John Henry Newman.

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much on prayer, and the Divine Blessing, for that is
impossible; but) we sometimes forget that we shall
please Him best, and get most from Him, when,
according to the Fable, we " put our shoulder to the
wheel," when we use what we have by nature to the
utmost, at the same time that we look out for what is
beyond nature in the confidence of faith and hope.
However, we are sometimes tempted to let things take
their course, as if they would in one way or another
turn up right at last for certain ; , and so we go on,
living from hand to mouth, getting into difficulties and
getting out of them, succeeding certainly on the whole,
but with failure in detail which might be avoided, and
with much of imperfection or inferiority in our appoint-
ments and plans, and much disappointment, discour-
agement, and collision of opinion in consequence. If
this be in any measure the state of the case, there is
certainly so far a reason for availing ourselves of the
investigations and experience of those who are not
Catholics, when we have to address ourselves to the
subject of Liberal Education.

v Nor is there surely anything derogatory to the
position of a Catholic in such a proceeding./ The
Church has ever appealed and deferred to witnesses
and authorities external to herself, in those matters in
which she thought they had means of forming a judg-
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raent : and that on the principle, Culque in sua arte
credcndum. She has even used unbelievers and pagans
in evidence of her truth, as far as their testimony
went. She avails herself of scholars, critics, and
antiquarians, who are not of her communion. She
has worded her theological teaching in the phraseology
of Aristotle; Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion, Origen,
Eusebius, and Apollinaris, all more or less heterodox,
have supplied materials for primitive exegetics. St.
Cyprian called Tertullian his master ; St. Augustin
refers to Ticonius ; Bossuet, in modern times, com-
plimented the labours of the Anglican Bull; the
Benedictine editors of the Fathers are familiar with
the labours of Fell, Ussher, Pearson, and Beveridge.
Pope Benedict XIV. cites according to the occasion
the works of Protestants without reserve, and the late
French collection of Christian Apologists contains the
writings of Locke, Burnet, Tillotson, and Paley. If,
then, I come forward in any degree as borrowing the
views of certain Protestant schools on the point which
is to be discussed, I do so, gentlemen, as believ-
ing, first, that the Catholic Church has ever, in the
plenitude of her divine illumination, made use of what-
ever truth or wisdom she has found in their teaching or
their measures ; and next, that in particular times or
places her children are likely to profit from external
suggestions or lessons, which cannot be considered t
necessary for herself.

And here I may mention a third reason for appeal-
ing at the outset to the proceedings of Protestant bodies
in regard to Liberal Education. It will serve to inti-
mate the mode in which I propose to handle my subject
altogether. * Observe then, gentlemen, I have no in-
tention, in anything I shall say, of bringing into the
7



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argument the authority of the Church, or any authority
at all ; but I shall consider the question simply on the
grounds of human reason and human wisdom. ^ I am
investigating in the abstract, and am determining what
is in itself right and true. For the moment I know
nothing, so to say, of history. I take things as I find
them ; I have no concern with the past ; I find myself
here ; I set myself to the duties I find here ; I set
myself to further, by every means in my power, doc-
trines and views, true in themselves, recognised by
Catholics as such, familiar to my own mind ; and to
do this quite apart from the consideration of questions
which have been determined without me and before
me. I am here the advocate apd the minister of a
certain great principle ; yet not merely advocate and
minister, else had I not been here at all. It has been
my previous keen sense and hearty reception of that
principle, that has been at once the cause, as I must
suppose, of my selection, and the ground of my
acquiescence. I am told on authority that a prin-
ciple is necessary, which I have ever felt to be
true. And I argue in its behalf on its own merits,
the authority, which brings me here, being my
reason for arguing, but not the ground of my argument
itself.

And a fourth reason is here suggested for consulting
the history of Protestant institutions, when I am going
to speak of the object and nature of University Educa-
tion. N It will serve to remind you, gentlemen, that
I am concerned with questions, not of immutable
truth, but of practice and expedience. < It would ill
have become me to undertake a subject, on which
points of dispute have arisen among persons so far
above me in authority and name, in relation to a state
8



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of society, about which I have so much to learn, if it
involved an appeal to sacred truths, or the determina-
tion of some imperative rule of conduct. It would
have been presumptuous in me so to have acted, nor
am I so acting. Even the question of the union of
Theology with the secular Sciences, which is its
religious side, simple as it is of solution in the abstract,
has, according to difference of circumstances, been at
different times differently decided. Necessity has no
law, and expedience is often one form of necessity.
It is no principle with sensible men, of whatever cast
of opinion, to do always what is abstractedly best.
Where no direct duty forbids, we may be obliged to
do, as being best under circumstances, what we murmur
and rise against, wh*le we do it. We see that to
attempt more is to effect less ; that we must accept so
much, or gain nothing ; and so perforce we reconcile
ourselves to what we would have far otherwise, if we
could. Thus a system of what is called Mixed
Education, in which Theology and the Sciences are
taught separately, may, in a particular place or time,
be the least of evils ; it may be of long standing ; it
may be dangerous to meddle with ; it may be pro-
fessedly a temporary arrangement ; it may be under a
process of improvement ; its disadvantages may be
neutralised by the persons by whom, or the provisions
under which, it is administered.

Hence it was, that in the early ages the Church
allowed her children to attend the heathen schools for
the acquisition of secular accomplishments, where, as
no one can doubt, evils existed, at least as great as
can attend on Mixed Education now. The gravest
Fathers recommended for Christian youth the use of
Pagan masters ; the most saintly Bishops and most
9



THEOLOGY



authoritative Doctors had been sent in their adoles-
cence by Christian parents to Pagan lecture halls. 1
And, not to take other instances, at this very time,
and in this very country, as regards at least the poorer
classes of the community, whose secular acquirements
ever must be limited, it has seemed best to the Irish
Bishops, under the circumstances, to suffer the intro-
duction into the country of a system of Mixed Educa-
tion in the schools called National. Such a state of
Ithings, however, is passing away ; as regards Univer-
sity education at least, the highest authority has now
decided that the plan, which is abstractedly best, is in
L ' this time and country also most expedient.

This is the branch of my subject on which I pro-
pose first to enter, and I do so without further delay.
It is one of the two questions, on which the Protestant
controversies turned to which I have alluded. The
earlier of them was the inutility of Oxford education,
the latter was its exc /usiveness ; in the former it was
debated whether Liberal Knowledge should have the
foremost place in University teaching ; in the latter,
whether Theology should be excluded. I am to
begin with the latter.



It is the fashion just now, gentlemen, as you very
well know, to erect so-called Universities, without
making any provision in them at all for Theological
chairs. Institutions of this kind exist both here and
in England. Such a procedure, though defended by
writers of the generation just passed with much
plausible argument and not a little wit, seems to me
an intellectual absurdity ; and my reason for saying

1 Vid. M. L'Abb Lalanne's recent work.
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A BRANCH OF KNOWLEDGE

so runs, with whatever abruptness, into the form of a
syllogism ; -A University y I should lay down, by its
very name professes to teach universal knowledge :
Theology is surely a branch of knowledge : how then
is it possible to profess all branches of knowledge, and
yet to exclude not the meanest, nor the narrowest, of
the number ? I do not see that either premiss oi this
argument is open to exception.

, As to the range of University teaching, certainly
the yery name is inconsistent with restrictions of
any kind. > Whatever was the original reason of
its adoption, which is unknown, 1 I am only putting
on it its popular, its recognised sense, when I say
that a University should teach universal knowledge.
That there is a real necessity for this universal teach-
ing in the highest schools of intellect, I will show
by-and-by; here it is sufficient to say that such uni-
versality is considered by writers on the subject as
the very characteristic of a University, as contrasted
with other seats of learning. Thus Johnson, in his
Dictionary, defines it to be "a school where all arts
and faculties are taught ; " and Mosheim, writing as
an historian, says that, before the rise of the Univer-
sity of Paris, for instance, at Padua, or Salamanca,
or Cologne, " the whole circle of sciences then
known was not taught ; " but that the school of Paris,
" which exceeded all others in various respects, as well
as in the number of teachers and students, was the first
to embrace all the arts and sciences, and therefore first
became a University." 2

1 In Roman law it means a Corporation. Vid. Keuffel,
de Scholis.

2 Hist., vol. ii. p. 529. London, 1841.

II



THEOLOGY



If, with other authors, we consider the word to be
derived from the invitation which is held out by a
University to students of every kind, the result is the
same ; for, if certain branches of knowledge were ex-
cluded, those students of course would be excluded
also, who desired to pursue them.

Is it, then, logically consistent in a seat of learning
to call itself a University, and to exclude Theology
from the number of its studies ? And again, is it won-
derful that Catholics, even in the view of reason, put-
ting aside faith or religious duty, should be dissatisfied
with existing institutions, which profess to be Univer-
sities, and refuse to teach Theology ; and that they
should in consequence desire to possess seats of learning,
which are, not only more Christian, but more philoso-
phical in their construction, and larger and deeper in
their provisions ?

But this, of course, is to assume that Theology is a
science, and an important one : so I will throw my
argument into another form. I say, then, that if
a University be, from the nature of the case, a place
of instruction, where universal knowledge is professed,
and if in a certain University, so called, the. subject of
Religion is excluded, one of two conclusions is inevit-
able, either, on the one hand, that the province of
Religion is very barren of real knowledge, or, on the
other hand, that in such University one special and
important branch of knowledge is omitted. I say the
advocate of such an institution must say this, or he must
say that ; he must own, either that little or nothing is
known about the Supreme Being, or that his seat of
learning calls itself what it is not. This is the thesis
which I lay down, and on which I shall insist in the
remainder of this Discourse. I repeat, such a compro-
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A BRANCH OF KNOWLEDGE

mise between religious parties, as is involved in the
establishment of a University which makes no religious
profession, implies that thfcse parties severally consider,
not indeed that their own respective opinions are
trifles in a moral and practical point of view of course
not ; but certainly as much as this, that they are not
knowledge. Did they in their hearts believe that their
private views of religion, whatever they are, were abso-
lutely and objectively true, it is inconceivable that they
would so insult them as to consent to their omission in
an Institution which is bound, from the nature of the
case from its very idea and its name to make a
profession of all sorts of knowledge whatever.

I think this will be found to be no matter of words.
I allow then fully, that, when men combine together
for any common object, they are obliged, as a matter
of course, in order to secure the advantages accruing
from united action, to sacrifice many of tneir private
opinions and wishes and to drop the minor differences,
as they are commonly called, which exist between
man and man. No two persons perhaps are to be
found, however intimate, however congenial in tastes
and judgments, however eager to have one heart and
one soul, but must deny themselves, for the sake of
each other, much which they like or desire, if they are
to live together happily. Compromise, in a large sense
of the word, is the first principle of combination ; and
any one who insists on enjoying his rights to the full,
and his opinions without toleration for his neighbour's,
and his own way in all things, will soon have all things
altogether to himself, and no one to share them with
him. But most true as this confessedly is, still there
is an obvious limit, on the other hand, to these
compromises, necessary as they are ; and this is found
'3



THEOLOGY

in the proviso, that the differences surrendered should
be but " minor," or that there should be no sacrifice of
the main object of the combination, in the concessions
which are mutually made. Any sacrifice which com-
promises that object is destructive of the principle of
the combination, and no one who would be consistent
can be a party to it.

Thus, for instance, if men of various religious de-
nominations join together for the dissemination of what
are called "evangelical" tracts, it is under the belief
that, the object of their uniting, as recognised on all
hands, being the spiritual benefit of their neighbours,
no religious exhortation, whatever be its character,
can essentially interfere with that benefit, which is
founded upon the Lutheran doctrine of Justification.
If, again, they agree together in printing and circulat-
ing the Protestant Bible, it is because they, one and
all, hold to the principle, that, however serious be their
differences of religious sentiment, such differences fade
away before the one great principle, which that circu-
lation symbolises that the Bible, the whole Bible,
and nothing but the Bible, is the religion of Pro-
testants. On the contrary, if the committee of some
such association inserted tracts into the copies of the
said Bible which they sold, and tracts in recommenda-
tion of the Athanasian Creed or the merit of good
works, I conceive any subscribing member would have
a just right to complain of a proceeding, which compro-
mised both the principle of Private Judgment and the
doctrine of Justification by Faith only. These instances
are sufficient to illustrate my general position, that coali-
tions and comprehensions for an object, have their life in
the prosecution of that object, and cease to haveany mean-
ing as soon as that object is compromised or disparaged.



A BRANCH OF KNOWLEDGE

When, then, a number of persons come forward,
not as politicians, not as diplomatists, lawyers, traders,
or speculators, but with the one object of advancing
Universal Knowledge, much we may allow them
to sacrifice ambition, reputation, leisure, comfort,
gold ; one thins they may not sacrifice, Know-
ledge itself. Knowledge being their object, they
need not of course insist on their own private views
about ancient or modern history, or national pros-
perity, or the balance of power ; they need not of
course shrink from the co-operation of those who hold
the opposite views ; but stipulate they must that Know-
ledge itself is not compromised ; and as to those views,
of whatever kind, which they do allow to be dropped,
it is plain they consider such to be opinions, and nothing
more, however dear, however important to themselves
personally ; opinions ingenious, admirable, pleasurable,
beneficial, expedient, but not worthy the name of
Knowledge or Science. Thus no one would insist
on the Malthusian teaching being a sine qua non in a
seat of learning, who did not think it simply ignorance
not to be a Malthusian ; and no one would consent
to drop the Newtonian theory, who thought it to
be proved true, in the same sense as the existence of
the sun and moon is true. If, then, in an Institution
which professes all knowledge, nothing is professed,
nothing is taught about the Supreme Being, it is fair
to infer that every individual in the number of those
who advocate that Institution, supposing him consis-
tent, distinctly holds that nothing is known for certain
about the Supreme Being ; nothing such, as to have any
claim to be regarded as an accession to the stock of
general knowledge existing in the world. If, on the
other hand, it turns out that something considerable is

15



THEOLOGY



known about the Supreme Being, whether from Reason
or Revelation, then the Institution in question professes
every science, and yet leaves out the foremost of them.
In a word, strong as may appear the assertion, I do
not see how I can avoid making it, and bear with me,
gentlemen, while I do so, viz., such an Institution can-
not be what it professes, if there be a God. I do not
wish to declaim ; but by the very force of the terms, it
is very plain, that a Divine Being and such a University
cannot co-exist.

Still, however, this may seem to many a a abrupt
conclusion, and will not be acquiesced in : what answer,
gentlemen, will be made to it? Perhaps this: It
will be said, that there are different kinds or spheres
of Knowledge, human, divine, sensible, intellectual,
and the like ; and that a University certainly takes in
all varieties of Knowledge in its own line, but still that
it has a line of its own. It contemplates, it occupies
a certain order, a certain platform, of Knowledge. I
understand the remark ; but I own to you, gentlemen,
I do not understand how it can be made to apply to the
matter in hand. I cannot so construct my definition of
the subject-matter of University Knowledge, and so
draw my boundary lines around it, as to include therein
the other sciences commonly studied at Universities, and
to exclude the science of Religion. Are we to limit
our idea of University Knowledge by the evidence of
our senses ? then we exclude history ; by testimony ? we
exclude metaphysics ; by abstract reasoning ? we ex-
clude physics. Is not the being of a God reported to us
by testimony, handed down by history, inferred by an
inductive process, brought home to us by metaphysical
necessity, urged on us by the suggestions of our con-
16



A BRANCH OF KNOWLEDGE

science ? It is a truth in the natural order, as well
as in the supernatural. So much for its origin ; and,
when obtained, what is it worth ? Is it a great truth
or a small one ? Is it a comprehensive truth ? Say
that no other religious idea whatever were given but
it, and you have enough to fill the mind ; you have
at once a whole dogmatic system. The word " God "
is a Theology in itself, indivisibly one, inexhaustibly
various, from the vastness and the simplicity of its
meaning. Admit a God, and you introduce among
the subjects of your knowledge, a fact encompassing,
closing in upon, absorbing, every other fact conceivable.
How can we investigate any part of any order of
Knowledge, and stop short of that which enters into
every order ? All true principles run over with it, all
phenomena converge to it ; it is truly the First and
the Last. In word indeed, and in idea, it is easy
enough to divide Knowledge into human and divine,
secular and religious, and to lay down that we will
address ourselves to the one, without interfering with
the other ; but it is impossible in fact. Granting
that divine truth differs in kind from human, so do
human truths differ in kind one from another. If
the knowledge of the Creator is in a different order
from knowledge of the creature, so, in like manner,
metaphysical science is in a different order from
physical, physics from history, history from ethics.
You will soon break up into fragments the whole
circle of secular knowledge, if you begin the mutilation
with divine.

J I have been speaking simply of Natural Theology ;
my argument of course is stronger when I go on to
Revelation. Let the doctrine of the Incarnation be
true : is it not at once of the nature of an historical

17 B



THEOLOGY



fact, and oi a metaphysical ? Let it be true that there
are Angels : how is this not a point of knowledge
in the same sense as the naturalist's asseveration, that
there are myriads of living things on the point of
a needle ? That the Earth is to be burned by fire,
is, if true, as large a fact as that huge monsters once
played amid its depths ; that Antichrist is to come, is
as categorical a heading to a chapter of history, as
that Nero or Julian was Emperor of Rome ; that a
divine influence moves the will, is a subject of thought
not more mysterious than the result of volition on the
animal frame, which we admit as a fact in metaphysics.

I do not see how it is possible for a philosophical
mind, first, to believe these religious facts to be true ;
next, K> consent to put them aside ; and thirdly, in
spite of this, to go on to profess to be teaching all the
while de omni scibili. No ; if a man thinks in his
heart that these religious facts are short of truth, are
not true in the sense in which the fall of a stone to
the earth is true, I understand his excluding Religion
from his University, though he professes other reasons
for its exclusion. In that case the varieties of re-
ligious opinion under which he shelters his conduct,
are not only his apology for publicly ignoring Religion,
but a cause of his privately disbelieving it. He does
not think that anything is known or can be known
for certain, about the origin of the world or the end of
man.

This, I fear, is the conclusion to which intellects,
clear, logical, and consistent, have come, or are com-
ing, from the nature of the case ; and, alas ! in addition
to this prima facie suspicion, there are actual tendencies
in the same direction in Protestantism, viewed whether
in its original idea, or again in the so-called Evangelical
18



A BRANCH OF KNOWLEDGE

movement in these islands during the last century. The
religious world, as it is styled, holds, generally speak-
ing, that Religion consists, not in knowledge, t>ut in
feeling or sentiment. The old Catholic notion, which
still lingers in the Established Church, was, that Faith
was an intellectual act, its object truth, and its result
knowledge. Thus if you look into the Anglican
Prayer Book, you will find definite credenda, as well
as definite agenda ; but in proportion as the Lutheran
leaven spread, it became fashionable to say that Faith
was, not an acceptance of revealed doctrine, not an act
of the intellect, but a feeling, an emotion, an affection,
an appetency ; and, as this view of Faith obtained, so
was the connection of Faith with Truth and Know-
ledge more and more either forgotten or denied. At
length the identity of this (so-called) spirituality of
heart and the virtue of Faith was acknowledged on all
hands. Some men indeed disapproved the pietism in
question, others admired it ; but whether they admired
or disapproved, both the one party and the other found
themselves in agreement on the main point, viz. in
considering that this really was in substance Religion,
and nothing else ; that Religion was based, not on
argument, but on taste and sentiment, that nothing
was objective, everything subjective, in doctrine. I
say, even those who saw through the affectation in
which the religious school of which I am speaking
clad itself, still came to think that Religion, as such,
consisted in something short of intellectual exercises,
viz., in the affections, in the imagination, in inward
persuasions and consolations, in pleasurable sensations,
sudden changes, and sublime fancies. They learned


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Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanOn the scope & nature of university education → online text (page 4 of 22)