John Henry Newman.

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ing and good taste to wish to obtrude them upon the
world. They neither wish to shock people, nor to
earn for themselves a confessorship which brings with
it no gain. They know the strength of prejudice,
and the penalty of innovation ; they wish to go through
life quietly ; they scorn polemics ; they shrink, as from
a real humiliation, from being mixed up in religious
controversy ; they are ashamed of the very name.
However, they have had occasion at some time to
publish on some literary or scientific subject ; they
have wished to give no offence ; but after all, to their
great annoyance, they find when they least expect it,
or when they have taken considerable pains to avoid
it, that they have roused by their publication what
they would style the bigoted and bitter hostility of a
party. This misfortune is easily conceivable, and has
befallen many a man. Before he knows where he is,
a cry is raised on all sides of him ; and so little does
he know what we may call the Re of the land, that his
attempts at apology perhaps only make matters worse.
In other words, an exclusive line of study has led him,
whether he will or no, to run counter to the principles
of Religion ; which principles he has never made his
landmarks, and which, whatever might be their effect
upon himself, at least would have warned him against
practising upon the faith of others, had they been
authoritatively held up before him.

Instances of this kind are far from uncommon.
Men who are old enough will remember the trouble
which came upon a person, eminent as a professional
man in London even at that distant day, and still
more eminent since, in consequence of his publishing a
book in which he so treated the subject of Comparative
Anatomy as to seem to deny the immateriality of the

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soul. I speak here neither as excusing nor reprobat-
ing sentiments about which I have not the means of
forming a judgment ; all indeed I have heard of him
makes me mention him with interest and respect ;
anyhow of this I am sure, that if there be a calling
which feels its position and its dignity to lie in abstain-
ing from controversy and cultivating kindly feelings
with men of all opinions, it is the medical profession,
and I cannot believe that the person in question would
purposely have raised the indignation and incurred the
censure of the religious public. What then must have
been his fault or mistake, but that he unsuspiciously
threw himself upon his own particular science, which
is of a material character, and allowed it to carry him
forward into a subject-matter, where it had no right
to give the law, viz., that of spiritual beings, which
directly belongs to the science of Theology ?

Another instance occurred at a later date. A living
dignitary of the Established Church wrote a History
of the Jews ; in which, with what I consider at least
bad judgment, he took an external view of it, and
hence was led to assimilate it as nearly as possible to
secular history. A great sensation was the consequence
among the members of his own communion, from which
he still suffers. Arguing from the dislike and con-
tempt of polemical demonstrations which that accom-
plished writer has ever shown, I must conclude that he
was simply betrayed into a false step by the treacherous
fascination of what is called the Philosophy of History,
which is good in its place, but can scarcely be applied
in cases where the Almighty has superseded the natural
laws of society and history. From this he would
have been saved had he been a Catholic ; but in the
Establishment he knew of no teaching, to which he



OF KNOWLEDGE ON THEOLOGY

was bound to defer, which ruled that to be false which
attracted him by its speciousness.

I will now take an instance from another science.
Political economy is the science, I suppose, of wealth
a science simply lawful and useful, for it is no sin to
make money, any more than it is a sin to seek honour ;
a science at the same time dangerous and leading to
occasions of sin, as is the pursuit of honour too ; and
in consequence, if studied by itself, and apart from the
control of Revealed Truth, sure to conduct a speculator
to unchristian conclusions. Holy Scripture tells us dis-
tinctly, that " covetousness," or more literally the love
of money, " is the root of all evils ; " and that " they
that would become rich fall into temptation ; " and
that " hardly shall they that have riches enter into the
kingdom of God ; " and after drawing the picture of
a wealthy and flourishing people, it adds, " They have
called the people happy that hath these things ; but
happy is that people whose God is the Lord : "
while on the other hand it says with equal distinctness,
" If any will not work, neither let him eat ; " and,
" If any man have not care of his own, and especially
of those of his house, he hath denied the faith, and is
worse than an infidel." These opposite injunctions
are summed up in the wise man's prayer, who says,
" Give me neither beggary nor riches, give me only
the necessaries of life.'* With this most precise view
of a Christian's duty, viz., to labour indeed, but to
labour for a competency for himself and his, and to be
jealous of wealth, whether personal or national, the
holy Fathers are, as might be expected, in simple
accordance. " Judas," says St. Chrysostom, "was
with Him who knew not where to lay His head, yet
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could not restrain himself; and how canst thou hope
to escape the contagion without anxious effort?"
" It is ridiculous," says St. Jerome, " to call it
idolatry to offer to the creature the grains of incense
that are due to God, and not to call it so, to offer the
whole service of one's life to the creature." " There
is not a trace of justice in that heart," says St. Leo,
" in which the love of gain has made itself a dwell-
ing." The same thing is emphatically taught us
by the counsels of perfection, and by every holy
monk and nun anywhere, who has ever embraced
them ; but it is needless to collect when Scripture is
so clear.

Now observe, gentlemen, my drift in setting Scrip-
ture and the Fathers over against Political Economy.
Of course if there is a science of wealth, it must give
rules for gaining wealth and disposing of wealth, and
can do nothing more ; it cannot itself declare that it is
a subordinate science, that its end is not the ultimate
end of all things, and that its conclusions are only
hypothetical, depending on its premisses, and liable to
be overruled by a higher teaching. I do not then
blame the Political Economist for anything which
follows from the very idea of his science, from the
very moment that it is recognised as a science. He
must of course direct his inquiries towards his end ;
but then at the same time it must be recollected, that
so far he is not practical, but only pursues an ab-
stract study, and is busy himself in establishing
logical conclusions from indisputable premisses. Given
that wealth is to be sought, this and that is the method
of gaining it. This is the extent to which a Political
Economist has a right to go ; he has no right to de-
termine that wealth is at any rate to be sought, or that



OF KNOWLEDGE ON THEOLOGY

it is the way to be virtuous and the price of happiness ;
I say, this is to pass the bounds of his science, inde-
pendent of the question whether he be right or wrong
in so determining, for he is only concerned with an
hypothesis.

To take a parallel case. A physician may tell you,
that if you are to preserve your health, you must give
up your employment and retire to the country. He
distinctly says "if" ; that is all in which he is con-
cerned, he is no judge whether there are objects dearer
to you, more urgent upon you, than the preservation
of your health ; he does not enter into your circum-
stances, your duties, your liabilities, the persons de-
pendent on you ; he knows nothing about what is
advisable or what is not ; he only says, " I speak as a
physician ; if you would be well, give up your profes-
sion, your trade, your office, whatever it is." How-
ever he may wish it, it would be impertinent to him to
say more, unless indeed he spoke not as a physician but
as a friend ; and it would be extravagant, if he asserted
that bodily health was the summum bonum, and that no
one could be virtuous whose animal system was not in
good order.

But now let us turn to the teaching of the Poli-
tical Economist, a fashionable philosopher just now.
I will take a very favourable instance of him ; he shall
be represented by a gentleman of high character whose
religious views are sufficiently guaranteed to us, by
his being the special choice, in this department of
science, of a University removed more than any other
Protestant body of the day from sordid or unchristian
principles on the subject of money-making. I say, if
there be a place where Political Economy would be
kept in order, and would not be suffered to leave the
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high-road and ride across the pastures and the gardens
dedicated to other studies, it is the University of Ox-
ford. And if a man could anywhere be found who
would have too much good taste to offend the religious
feeling of the place, or to say anything which he
would himself allow to be inconsistent with Revela-
tion, I conceive it is the person whose temperate and
well-considered composition, as it would be generally
accounted, I am going to offer to your notice. Nor did
it occasion any excitement whatever on the part of the
academical or the religious public, as did the instances
which I have hitherto been adducing. I am repre-
senting then the science of Political Economy, in its
independent or unbridled action, to great advantage,
when I select, as its specimen, the Inaugural Lecture
upon it, delivered in the University in question, by its
first Professor. Yet with all these circumstances in its
favour, you will soon see, gentlemen, into what ex-
travagance, for so I must call it, a grave lawyer is led in
praise of his chosen science, merely from the circum-
stance that he has fixed his mind upon it, till he has
forgotten there are subjects of thought higher and more
heavenly than it. You will find beyond mistake,
that it is his object to recommend the science of
wealth, by claiming for it an ethical quality, viz., by
extolling it as the road to virtue and happiness,
whatever Scripture and holy men may say to the
contrary.

He begins by predicting of Political Economy, that
in the course of a very few years, " it will rank in
public estimation among the first of moral sciences
in interest and in utility." Then he explains most
lucidly its objects and duties, considered as "the
science which teaches in what wealth consists, by
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what agents it is produced, and according to what
laws it is distributed, and what are the institutions and
customs by which production may be facilitated and
distribution regulated, so as to give the largest possible
amount of wealth to each individual." And he dwells
upon the interest which attaches to the inquiry,
" whether England has run her full career of wealth
and improvement, but stands safe where she is, or
whether to remain stationary is impossible." After
this he notices a certain objection, which I shall set
before you in his own words, as they will furnish me
with the illustration I propose.

This objection, he says, is, that, " as the pursuit of
wealth is one of the humblest of human occupations,
far inferior to the pursuit of virtue, or of knowledge, or
even of reputation, and as the possession of wealth is
not necessarily joined perhaps it will be said, is not
conducive to happiness, a science, of which the only
subject is wealth, cannot claim to rank as the first, or
nearly the first, of moral sciences." l Certainly, to
an enthusiast in behalf of any science whatever, the
temptation is great to meet an objection urged against
its dignity and worth ; however, from the very form
of it, such an objection cannot receive a satisfactory
answer by means of the science itself. It is an objec-
tion external to the science, and reminds us of the
truth of Lord Bacon's remark, " No perfect discovery
can be made upon a flat or a level ; neither is it pos-
sible to discover the more remote and deeper parts of
any science, if you stand upon the level of the science,
and ascend not to a higher science." 2 The objection
that Political Economy is inferior to the science of

1 Introd. Lecture on Pol. Econ., pp. n, 12.
a "Advancement of Learning."

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virtue, or does not conduce to happiness, is an ethical
or theological objection ; the question of its " rank "
belongs to that Architectonic Science or Philosophy,
whatever it be, which is itself the arbiter of all truth,
and which disposes of the claims and arranges the
places of all the departments of knowledge which
man is able to master. I say, when an opponent of
a particular science asserts that it does not conduce to
happiness, and much more when its champion con-
tends in reply that it certainly does conduce to virtue,
as this author proceeds to contend, the obvious ques-
tion which occurs to one to ask is, what does Religion,
what does Revelation, say on the point? Political
Economy must not be allowed to give judgment in its
own favour, but must come before a higher tribunal.
The objection is an appeal to the Theologian ; how-
ever, the Professor does not so view the matter ; he
does not consider it a question for Philosophy ; nor
indeed on the other hand a question for Political
Economy ; not a question for Science at all ; but for
Private Judgment, so he answers it himself, and as
follows :

" My answer," he says, " is, first, that the pursuit
of wealth, that is, the endeavour to accumulate the
means of future subsistence and enjoyment, is, to the
mass of mankind, the great source of moral improve-
ment." Now observe, gentlemen, how exactly this
bears out what I have been saying. It is just so far
true, as to be able to instil what is false, far as the
author was from any such design. I grant then, that
beggary is not the means of moral improvement ;
and that the orderly habits which attend upon the
hot pursuit of gain, not only may effect an external
decency, but may at least shelter the soul from the
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temptations of vice. Moreover, these habits of good
order guarantee regularity in a family or household,
and thus are accidentally the means of good ; more-
over, they lead to the education of its younger branches,
and they thus accidentally provide the rising generation
with a virtue or a truth which the present has not :
but without going into these considerations, further
than to allow them generally, and under circumstances,
let us rather contemplate what the author's direct
assertion is. He says, "the endeavour to accumulate"
the words should be weighed, and for what ? " for
enjoyment ; " " to accumulate the means of future
subsistence and enjoyment, is, to the mass of man-
kind, the great source," not merely a source, but the
great source, and of what ? of social and political pro-
gress ? such an answer would have been more within
the limits of his art no, but of something individual
and personal, " of moral improvement" The soul, to
speak of the " mass of mankind/' improves in moral
excellence from this more than anything else, viz., from
heaping up the means of enjoying this world in time to
come ! I really should on every account be sorry,
gentlemen, to exaggerate, but indeed one is taken by
surprise on meeting with so very categorical a con-
tradiction of our Lord, St. Paul, St. Chrysostom, St.
Leo, and all Saints.

" No institution," he continues, " could be more
beneficial to the morals of the lower orders, that is, to
at least nine-tenths of the whole body of any people,
than one which should increase their power and their
wish to accumulate ; none more mischievous than one
which should diminish their motives and means to
save." No institution more beneficial than one which
should increase the wish to accumulate ! then Chris-

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tianity is not one of such beneficial institutions, for it
expressly says, " Lay not up to yourselves treasures on
earth ... for where thy treasure is, there is thy heart
also ; " no institution more mischievous than one
which should diminish the motives to save! then
Christianity is one of such mischiefs, for the inspired
text proceeds, " Lay up to yourselves treasures in
heaven, 'where neither the rust nor the moth doth
consume, and where thieves do not dig through nor
steal."

But it is not enough that morals and happiness are
made to depend on gain and accumulation : the prac-
tice of Religion is ascribed to these causes also, and in
the following way. Wealth depends upon the pursuit
of wealth ; education depends upon wealth ; know-
ledge depends on education, and Religion depends on
knowledge ; therefore Religion depends on the pursuit
of wealth. He says, after speaking of a poor and
savage people, " Such a population must be grossly
ignorant. The desire of knowledge is one of the last
results of refinement; it requires in general to have
been implanted in the mind during childhood ; and it
is absurd to suppose that persons thus situated would
have the power or the will to devote much to the
education of their children. A further consequence
is the absence of all real religion ; for the religion of
the grossly ignorant, if they have any, scarcely ever
amounts to more than a debasing superstition." * The
pursuit of gain then is the basis of virtue, religion,
happiness; though it is all the while, as a Christian
knows, the " root of all evils," and the " poor on
the contrary arc blessed, for theirs is the kingdom
of God." '

i Ibid., p. 16.
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OF KNOWLEDGE ON THEOLOGY



As to the argument contained in the logical Sorites
which I have been drawing out, I anticipated just now
what I should say to it in reply. I repeat, doubtless
" beggary," as the wise man says, is not desirable ;
doubtless, if men will not work, they should not eat ;
there is doubtless a sense in which it may be said that
mere social or political virtue tends to moral and
religious excellence ; but the sense needs to be defined
and the statement to be kept within bounds. This is
the very point on which I am all along insisting. I
am not denying, I am granting, I am assuming, that
there is reason and truth in the "leading ideas," as
they are called, and " large views " of scientific men ;
I only say that, though they speak truth, they do not
speak the whole truth ; that they speak a narrow
truth, and think it a broad truth ; that their deductions
must be compared with other truths, which are ac-
knowledged as such, in order to verify, complete,
and correct them. They say what is true, exccptis
exclplendis ; what is true, but requires guarding ; true,
but must not be ridden too hard, or made what is
called a hobby; true, but not the measure of all things ;
true, but if thus inordinately, extravagantly, ruinously
carried out, in spite of other sciences, in spite of
Theology, sure to become but a great bubble, and to
burst.

I am getting to the end of this Discourse, before
I have noticed one-tenth part of the instances with
which I might illustrate the subject of it. Else I
should have wished especially to have dwelt upon the
not unfrequent perversion which occurs of antiquarian
and historical research, to the prejudice of Theology.
It is undeniable that the records of former ages are of
primary importance in determining Religious Truth ;

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it is undeniable also that there is a silence or a con-
trariety abstractedly conceivable in those records, as
to an alleged portion of that truth, sufficient to invali-
date its claims ; but it is quite as undeniable that the
existing documentary evidences of Catholicism and
Christianity may be so unduly exalted as to be made
the absolute measure of Revelation, as if no part of
theological teaching were true which cannot bring its
express text, as it is called, from Scripture, and autho-
rities from the Fathers or profane writers whereas
there are numberless facts in past times which we cannot
deny, for they are indisputable, though history is silent
about them. I suppose, on this score, we ought to
deny that the round towers of this country had any
origin, because history does not disclose it; or that
any individual came from Adam who cannot produce
the table of his ancestry. Yet Gibbon argues against
the darkness at the Passion, from the accident that it
is not mentioned by Pagan historians : as well might
he argue against the existence of Christianity itself in
the first century, because Seneca, Pliny, Plutarch, the
Jewish Mishna, and other authorities are silent about
it. In a parallel way Protestants argue against Tran-
substantiation, and Arians against our Lord's Divinity,
viz., because extant writings of certain Fathers do
not witness those doctrines to their satisfaction :
as well might they say that Christianity was not spread
by the Twelve Apostles, because we know so little
of their labours. The evidence of History, I say,
is invaluable in its place ; but, if it assumes to be
the sole means of gaining Religious Truth, it goes
beyond its place. We are putting it to a larger office
than it can undertake, if we countenance the usurpa-
tion ; and we are turning a true guide and blessing into
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a source of inexplicable difficulty and interminable
doubt.

And so of other sciences : just as Comparative
Anatomy, Political Economy, the Philosophy of
History, and the Science of Antiquities may be and
are turned against Religion, by being taken by them-
selves, as I have been showing, so a like mistake may
befall any other. Grammar, for instance, at first
sight does not appear to admit of a perversion ; yet
Home Tooke made it the vehicle of his peculiar
scepticism. Law would seem to have enough to do
with its own clients, and their affairs ; and yet Mr.
Bentiam made a treatise on Judicial Proofs a covert
attack upon the miracles of Revelation. And in like
manner Physiology may deny moral evil and human
responsibility; Geology may deny Moses; and Logic
may deny the Holy Trinity ; 1 and other sciences, now
rising into notice, are or will be victims of a similar abuse.

And now to sum up what I have been saying in a
few words. My object, it is plain, has been not to
show that Secular Science in its various departments
may take up a position hostile to Theology ;-^-this is
rather the basis of the objection with which I opened
this Discourse; but to point out the cause of an_
hostility to which all parties will bear witness. l"have~~
been insisting then on this, that the hostility in question,
when it occurs, is coincident with an evident deflection
or exorbitance of Science from its proper course ; and
that this exorbitance is sure to take place, almost from
the necessity of the case, if Theology be not present to
defend its own boundaries and to hinder the encroach-
ment. The human mind cannot keep from speculating

Vid. Abelard, for instance.



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and systematising ; and if Theology is not allowed
to occupy its own territory, adjacent sciences, nay,
sciences which are quite foreign to Theology, will
take possession of it. And it is proved to be a
usurpation by this circumstance, that those sciences
will assume certain principles as true, and act upon
them, which they neither have authority to lay down
themselves, nor appeal to any other higher science to
lay down for them. For example, it is a mere un-
warranted assumption to say with the Antiquarian,
" Nothing has ever taken place but is to be found in his-
torical documents ; " or with the Philosophic Historian,
"There is nothing in Judaism different from other
political institutions ; " or with the Anatomist, " There
is no soul beyond the brain ; " or with the Political
Economist, " Easy circumstances make men virtuous."
These are enunciations, not of Science, but of Private
Judgment; and it is Private Judgment that infects
every science which it touches with a hostility to
Theology, a hostility which properly attaches to no
science in itself whatever.

If then, gentlemen, I now resist such a course of
acting as unphilosophical, what is this but to do as men
of Science do when the interests of their own respective
pursuits are at stake ? If they certainly would resist


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Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanOn the scope & nature of university education → online text (page 9 of 22)