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On the title-page of the Fourth Edition, instead of the English appears
the Vulgate version of the text, thus

"Quae est ista, quae progreditur quasi aurora consurgens,
terribilis ut castrorum acies ordinata?"

3>o!w Hani's

(JUtertaar&H arbitral)

(9 slit ttwt loofittlj fortj 93 Itif morning, fait as ttif moon,
tltar as tfit sun, ano tnrftlt a an arraj iuitl) iannws ? "

Honlron anti l^fto fork

|First ani

Heprtntetr in tlje Wirfc attft yourtlr (Btritinns
"imtfr a fein literary r0rmtintts"

r ~PHE following sketches, which, with two or three
^ exceptions, have appeared in the British Magazine
during 1833 and the following years, do not, as the
author is very conscious, warrant a title of such high
pretension as that which was there prefixed to them
and is here preserved. But that title will at least show
the object with which they were written; viz. to illus-
trate, as far as they go, the tone and modes of thought,
the habits and manners of the early times of the

The author is aware how much a work is open to
imperfection, and therefore to criticism, which is made
up in so great measure of minute historical details and
of translations; nor would he subject himself either
to the one or the other did he not think that the chance
of bringing out or recommending one or two of the
characteristics of primitive Christianity was worth the
risk of mistakes which, after all, would but affect him-
self and not his readers.

As to the translations, he is very sensible what con-
stant and unflagging attention is requisite to catch the
sense of the original, and what discrimination in the


choice of English to do justice to it. And further, over
and above actual faults, variety of tastes and fluctuation
of moods among readers, make it impossible so to
translate as to please every one ; and if a translator be
conscious to himself, as he may well be, of viewing
either his original or version differently, according to
the time or feeling with which he takes it up, much
more will he resign himself to such differences of
judgment in the case of other minds. It should be
considered, too, that translation in itself is, after all,
but a problem how, two languages being given, the
nearest approximation may be made in the second to
the expression of ideas already conveyed through the
medium of the first. The problem almost starts with
the assumption that something must be sacrificed, and
the chief question is, What is the least sacrifice? In
a balance of difficulties one translator will aim at being
critically correct, and will become obscure, cumbrous,
and foreign; another will aim at being English, and
will appear deficient in scholarship. While grammatical
particles are followed out the spirit evaporates; and,
while ease is secured, new ideas are intruded, or the
point of the original is lost, or the drift of the context

Under these circumstances perhaps it is fair to lay
down that, while every care must be taken against the
introduction of new or the omission of existing ideas
in the original text, yet in a book intended for general
reading faithfulness may be considered simply to consist
in expressing in English the sense of the original, the
actual words of the latter being viewed mainly as directions
into its meaning, and scholarship being necessary in
order to gain the full insight which they afford; and
next that, where something must be sacrificed, precision
or intelligibility, it is better in a popular work to be


understood by those who are not critics than to be
applauded by those who are.

In the present translations this principle has been
taken to justify the omission of passages, and now and
then the condensation of sentences, when the extract
otherwise would have been too long, a studious en-
deavour being all along made to preserve the sense
from injury.

Febmary 2ist> 1840.


HTHE volume here presented to the reader contains
some of the earliest compositions of what is called
the Oxford, or Tractarian, School. They are portions
of a series which appeared in the British Magazine of
1833 an d the following years, and they are here reprinted
from the Edition of 1842 with such trivial alterations as
were rendered necessary by the circumstances under
which they were written.

No alterations, however, many or few, can obliterate
the polemical character of a work directed originally
against Protestant ideas. And this consideration must
plead for certain peculiarities which it exhibits, such as
its freedom in dealing with saintly persons, the gratuitous
character of some of its assertions, and the liberality of
many of its concessions. It must be recollected that,
in controversy, a writer grants all that he can afford to
grant, and avails himself of all that he can get granted :
in other words, if he seems to admit, it is mainly "for
argument's sake " ; and if he seems to assert, it is mainly
as an " argumentum ad hornmem" As to positive state-
ments of his own, he commits himself to as few as he
can, just as a soldier in campaign takes no more
baggage than is enough, and considers the conveniences
of home life as only impedimenta in his march.

This being kept in view, it follows that, if the author
of this volume allows the appearance of infirmity or


error in St. Basil or St. Gregory or St. Martin, he allows
it because he can afford to say " transeat " to allegations
which, even though they were ever so well founded,
would not at all interfere with the heroic sanctity of
their lives or the doctrinal authority of their words.
And if he can bear to hear St. Anthony called an en-
thusiast without protesting, it is because that hypothesis
does not even tend to destroy the force of the argument
against the religion of Protestants, which is suggested by
the contrast existing between their spirit and his.

Nor is this the sole consideration on which an author
may be justified in the use of frankness, after the
manner of Scripture, in speaking of the saints ; for their
lingering imperfections surely make us love them more,
without leading us to reverence them less, and act as a
relief to the discouragement and despondency which
may come over those who, in the midst of much error
and sin, are striving to imitate them, according to the
saying of St. Gregory on a graver occasion, " Plus nobis
Thomae infidelitas ad fidem, quam fides credentium
discipulorum profuit."

And in like manner, the dissatisfaction of Saints, of
St. Basil, or again of St. Thomas, with the contemporary
policy or conduct of the Holy See, while it is no justi-
fication of ordinary men, bishops, clergy, or laity, in
feeling the same, is no reflection either on those Saints
or on the Vicar of Christ. Nor is his infallibility in
dogmatic decisions compromised by any personal and
temporary error into which he may have fallen, in his
estimate, whether of a heretic, such as Pelagius, or of a
Doctor of the Church, such as Basil. Accidents of this
nature are unavoidable in the state of being which we
are allotted here below.

Lady 'day ', 1857.

T N an Advertisement to the fourth Edition the author
* states that the omissions made in the third Edition
are of the chapters on St. Ambrose, on Vincent of
Lerins, on Jovinian and his companions, and on the
Canons of the Apostles. The chapters on St. Ambrose
he withdrew " with the hope of rewriting them at some
future day with care and pains less unworthy of the
great Saint commemorated in them, and because one
of them had already been rewritten in his Essay on
Ecclesiastical Miracles." The chapter on the celebrated
Treatise of Vincentius he considered to have been super-
seded by the extracts made from that Treatise in one of
the Oxford Tracts (Records of the Church), and by the
Oxford Edition of the whole work. The chapters on
Jovinian and the rest, and on the Apostolical Canons,
he rejected on account of their controversial and anti-
quarian character. The two chapters on St. Martin he
abridged and brought into one.

The text here given is that of the original edition.

t0 ifre JFirst anft j^ewttf (KMturns







t0 tire W:r& antr subsequent Outturns









March *$th t 1857

Cimrdr of

Chapter i


"No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper : and every
tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment, thou shall
condemn. "

NO considerate person will deny, that there is much
in the spirit of the times, and in the actual changes
which the British constitution has lately undergone,
which makes it probable, or not improbable, that a
material alteration will soon take place in the relations
of the Church towards the State, to which it has been
hitherto united. I do not say that it is out of the
question that things may return to their former quiet
and pleasant course, as in the good old time of king
George III. ; but the very chance that they will not,
makes it a practical concern for every churchman to
prepare himself for a change, and a practical question
for the clergy, by what instruments the authority of
religion is to be supported, should the protection and
recommendation of the government be withdrawn.
Truth, indeed, will always support itself in the world by
its native vigour; it will never die while heaven and
earth last, but be handed down from saint to saint until
the end of all things. But this was the case before our
Lord came, and is still the case, as we may humbly
trust, in heathen countries. My question concerns the


2 . ,, . .fj (Kljttrdj of the Ifatfjm. [CHAP.

Church, that peculiar institution which Christ set up as
1 & ViBjhJe Jigme and memorial of truth ; and which, as
being m'tmV w*6rld, must be manifested by means of
this world. I know it is common to make light of this
solicitude about the Church, under the notion that the
Gospel may be propagated without it, or that men are
about the same under every dispensation, their hearts
being in fault, and not their circumstances, or for other
reasons, better or worse as it may be ; to all which 1 am
accustomed to answer, (and I do not see how I can be
in error,) that, if Christ had not meant His Church to
answer a purpose, He would not have set it up, and that
our business is not to speculate about possible dispensa-
tions of religion, but to resign and devote ourselves to
that in which we are actually placed.

Hitherto the English Church has depended on the
State, i.e. on the ruling powers in the country the king
and the aristocracy ; and this is so natural and religious
a position of things when viewed in the abstract, and in
its actual working has been productive of such excellent
fruits in the Church, such quietness, such sobriety, such
external propriety of conduct, and such freedom from
doctrinal excesses, that we must ever look back upon the
period of ecclesiastical history so characterised with
affectionate thoughts ; particularly on the reigns of our
blessed martyr St. Charles, and king George the Good.
But these recollections of the past must not engross our
minds, or hinder us from looking at things as they are,
and as they will be soon, and from inquiring what is
intended by Providence to take the place of the time-
honoured instrument, which He has broken (if it be yet
broken), the regal and aristocratical power. I shall
offend many men when I say, we must look to the people ;
but let them give me a hearing.

Well can I understand their feelings. Who at first
sight does not dislike the thoughts of gentlemen and
clergymen depending for their maintenance and their
reputation on their flocks ? of their strength, as a visible
power, lying not in their birth, the patronage of the
great, and the endowment of the Church (as hitherto),
but in the homage of a multitude? I confess I have
before now had a great repugnance to the notion myself;

i.] 3Unbr0stf antr Jusiina. 3

and if I have overcome it, and turned from the govern-
ment to the people, it has been simply because I was
forced to do so. It is not we who desert the government,
but the government that has left us ; we are forced back
upon those below us, because those above us will not
honour us : there is no help for it, I say. But, in truth,
the prospect is not so bad as it seems at first sight. The
chief and obvious objection to the clergy being thrown
on the people, lies in the probable lowering of Christian
views, and the adulation of the vulgar, which would be
its consequence ; and the state of dissenters is appealed
to as an evidence of the danger. But let us recollect
that we are an apostolical body ; we were not made, nor
can be unmade by our flocks ; and if our influence is to
depend on t/iem, yet the sacraments reside with us. We
have that with us, which none but ourselves possess, the
mantle of the Apostles ; and this, properly understood
and cherished, will ever keep us from being the creatures
of a populace.

And what in time to come may become necessary, is a
more religious state of things also. It will not be denied
that, according to the Scripture view of the Church,
though all are admitted into her pale, and the rich in-
clusively, yet, the poor are her members with a peculiar
suitableness, and by a special right. Scripture is ever
casting slurs upon wealth, and making much of poverty.
" To the poor the Gospel is preached." " God hath
chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith and heirs of
the kingdom." " If thou wilt be perfect, sell all that
thou hast, and give- to the poor." To this must be
added, the undeniable fact that the Church, when purest
and when most powerful, has depended for its influence
on its consideration with the many. Becket's letters,
lately published, 1 have struck me not a little; but of
course I now refer, not to such dark ages as most
Englishmen consider these, but to the primitive Church,
the Church of St. Athanasius and St. Ambrose. With
a view of showing the power of the Church at that time,
I will in this chapter give some account of certain eccle-
siastical proceedings in the city of Milan, A.D. 385,

1 Vide British Magazine, 1832, &c. And Froude's Remains,
Part ii. vol. II.

4 ffib* (tljurrlj 0f t\it ifatljm. [CHAP.

during the holy season of Lent, Ambrose being bishop,
and Justina and her son, the younger Valentinian, the
reigning powers.

Ambrose was eminently a popular bishop, as every
one knows who has read ever so little of his history.
His very promotion to the sacred office was owing to
an excitement of the populace. Auxentius, his Arian
predecessor in the see of Milan, died, A.D. 374, upon
which the bishops of the province wrote to the then
emperor, Valentinian the First, who was in Gaul, re-
questing him to name the person who was to succeed
him. This was a prudent step on their part, Arianism
having introduced such matter for discord and faction
among the Milanese, that it was dangerous to submit
the election to the people at large, though the majority
of them were orthodox. Valentinian, however, declined
to avail himself of the permission thus given him ; the
choice was thrown upon the voices of the people, and
the cathedral, which was the place of assembling, was
soon a scene of disgraceful uproar, as the bishops had
anticipated. Ambrose was at that time civil governor of
the province of which Milan was the capital: and, the
tumult increasing, he was obliged to interfere in person,
with a view of preventing its ending in open sedition.
He was a man of grave character, and had been in
youth brought up with a sister who had devoted herself
to the service of God in a single life; but as yet was
only a catechumen, though above thirty years of age.
Arrived at the scene of tumult, he addressed the as-
sembled crowds, exhorting them to peace and order.
While he was speaking, a child's voice, as is reported,
was heard in the midst of the crowd to say, " Ambrose
is bishop;" the populace took up the cry, and both
parties in the Church, Catholic and Arian, whether in-
fluenced by a sudden enthusiasm, or willing to take a
man who was unconnected with party, voted unanimously
for the election of Ambrose. It is not wonderful that
the subject of this sudden decision should have been
unwilling to quit his civil office for a station of such
high responsibility ; for many days he fought against the
popular voice, and that by the most extravagant ex-
pedients. He absconded, and was not recovered till

i.j 3Vmbr0S anir Justitta. 5

the emperor, confirming the act of the people of Milan,
published an edict against all who should conceal him.
Under these strange circumstances, Ambrose was at
length consecrated bishop. His ordination was canonical
only on the supposition that it came under those rare
exceptions, for which the rules of the Church allow,
when they speak of election "by divine grace," by the
immediate suggestion of God ; and if ever a bishop's
character and works might be appealed to as evidence
of the divine purpose, surely Ambrose was the subject
of that singular and extraordinary favour. From the
time of his call he devoted his life and abilities to the
service of Christ. He bestowed his personal property
on the poor : his lands on the Church ; making his
sister tenant for life. Next he gave himself up to the
peculiar studies necessary for the due execution of his
high duties, till he gained that deep insight into Catholic
truth, which is evidenced in his works, and in no
common measure in relation to Arianism, which had
been the dominant creed in Milan for the twenty years
preceding his elevation. Basil of Csesarea was at this
time the main pillar of Catholic truth in the East,
having succeeded Athanasius of Alexandria, who died
about the time that both Basil and Ambrose were ad-
vanced to their respective sees. He addresses the new
bishop in these words in an extant epistle :

" Proceed in thy work, thou man of God ; and since
thou hast not received the Gospel of Christ of men,
neither wast taught it, but the Lord Himself translated
thee from among the world's judges to the chair of the
Apostles, fight the good fight, set right the infirmities of
the people, wherever the Arian madness has affected
them ; renew the old foot-prints of the Fathers, and
by frequent correspondence build up thy love towards
us, of which thou hast already laid the foundation."
Ep. 197.

Ambrose had presided in his see about eleven years
at the time when the events took place which are here to
be related. Valentinian was dead, as well as his eldest
son Gratian. His second son, who bore his own name,

(Kljiirrlj of tlj Jatljm. [CHAP.

was emperor of the West, under the tutelage of Justina,
who had been his second wife.

Justina was an Arian, and brought up her son in her
own heretical views. This was about the time when the
heresy was finally subdued in the Eastern Churches ;
the council of Constantinople had lately been held,
many Arian bishops had conformed, and laws had been
passed by Theodosius against those who held out. It
was natural under such circumstances that a number of
the latter should flock to the court of Milan for pro-
tection and patronage. The Gothic officers of the
palace were Arians also, as might be supposed, after the
creed of their nation. At length they obtained a bishop
of their persuasion from the East ; and having now the
form of an ecclesiastical body, they used the influence
of Valentinian, or rather of his mother, to extort from
Ambrose one of the churches of Milan for their worship.

The bishop was summoned to the palace before the
assembled court, and was formally asked to relinquish
St. Victor's Church, then called the Portian Basilica,
which was without the walls, for the Arian worship. His
duty was plain; the churches were the property of
Christ; he was the representative of Christ, and was
therefore bound not to cede what was committed to him
in trust. This is the account of the matter given by

"Do not," he says, "O emperor, embarrass yourself
with the thought that you have an emperor's right over
sacred things. Exalt not yourself, but, as you would
enjoy a continuance of power, be God's subject. It is
written, God's to God, and Caesar's to Caesar. The
palace is the emperor's, the churches are the bishop's."
Ep. 20.

This argument, which is true at all times, was much
more convincing in an age like the primitive, before
men had begun to deny that Christ had left a visible
representative of Himself in His Church. If there was
a body to whom the concerns of religion were intrusted,
there could be no doubt it was that over which Ambrose
presided. It had been there planted ever since Milan

i.] JVmbrosB antr Jxtstina* 7

became Christian, its ministers were descended from the
Apostles, and it was the legitimate trustee of the sacred
property. But in our day men have been taught to
doubt whether there is one Apostolic Church, though it
is mentioned in the Creed : nay, it is grievous to say,
clergymen have sometimes forgotten, sometimes made
light of their own privileges. Accordingly, when a
question arises now about the spoliation of the Church,
we are obliged to betake ourselves to the rules of
national law ; we appeal to precedents, or we urge the
civil consequences of the measure, or we use other
arguments which, good as they may be, are too refined
to be very popular. Ambrose rested his resistance on
grounds which the people understood at once, and
recognised as irrefragable. They felt that he was only
refusing to surrender a trust. They rose in a body, and
thronged the palace gates. A company of soldiers was
sent to disperse them; and a riot was on the point of
ensuing, when the ministers of the court became alarmed,
and despatched Ambrose to appease the tumult, with the
pledge that no further attempt should be made on the
possessions of the Church. Now some reader will here
interrupt the narrative, perhaps, with something of an
indignant burst about connecting the cause of religion
with mobs and outbreaks. To whom I would reply,
that the multitude of men is always rude and intem-
perate, and needs restraint, religion does not make
them so. But being so, it is better they should be
zealous about religion, and repressed by religion, as
in this case, than flow and ebb again under the irra-
tional influences of this world. A mob, indeed, is
always wayward and faithless; but it is a good sign
when it is susceptible of the hopes and fears of the
world to come. Is it not probable that, when religion
is thus a popular subject, it may penetrate, soften, or
stimulate hearts which otherwise would know nothing
of its power? However, this is not, properly speak-
ing, my present point, which is to show how a Church
may be in "favour with all the people" without any
subserviency to them. To return to our history.

Justina, failing to intimidate, made various underhand
attempts to remove the champion of orthodoxy. She

b* (Kljurrlj of tbe JFatb^rsu [CHAP.

endeavoured to raise the people against him. Failing
in this object, next, by the promise of offices and places
of dignity, she set on foot various projects to seize him
in church, and carry him off into banishment. One man
went so far as to take lodgings near the church, and had
a carriage in readiness, in order to avail himself of any
opportunity which offered to convey him away. But
none of these attempts succeeded.

This was in the month of March ; as Easter drew on,
more vigorous steps were taken by the court. On April 4,
the Friday before Palm Sunday, the demand of a church
for the Arians was renewed; the pledges which the
government had given, that no further steps should be
taken in the matter, being perhaps evaded by changing
the church which was demanded. Ambrose was now
asked for the New or Roman Basilica, which was within
the walls, and larger than the Portian. It was dedicated
to the Apostles, and (I may add, for the sake of the
antiquarian) was built in the form of a cross. When
the bishop refused in the same language as before, the
imperial minister returned to the demand of the Portian
Church ; but the people interfering, and being clamorous
against the proposal, he was obliged to retire to the

Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanThe church of the fathers → online text (page 1 of 28)