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Occasional Papers by R.W. Church

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to be disloyal to his superiors.

So far generally; now in particular as to myself. After twenty
years of Catholic life, I feel no delicacy in giving my opinion on
any point when there is a call for me,--and the only reason why I
have not done so sooner or more often than I have, is that there
has been no call. I have now reluctantly come to the conclusion
that your Volume _is_ a call. Certainly, in many instances in
which theologian differs from theologian, and country from
country, I have a definite judgment of my own; I can say so
without offence to any one, for the very reason that from the
nature of the case it is impossible to agree with all of them. I
prefer English habits of belief and devotion to foreign, from the
same causes, and by the same right, which justifies foreigners in
preferring their own. In following those of my people, I show less
singularity, and create less disturbance than if I made a flourish
with what is novel and exotic. And in this line of conduct I am
but availing myself of the teaching which I fell in with on
becoming a Catholic; and it is a pleasure to me to think that what
I hold now, and would transmit after me if I could, is only what I
received then.

He observes that when he first joined the Roman Catholic Church the
utmost delicacy was observed in giving him advice; and the only warning
which he can recollect was from the Vicar-General of the London
district, who cautioned him against books of devotion of the Italian
school, which were then just coming into England, and recommended him
to get, as safe guides, the works of Bishop Hay. Bishop Hay's name is
thus, probably for the first time, introduced to the general English
public. It is difficult to forbear a smile at the great Oxford teacher,
the master of religious thought and feeling to thousands, being gravely
set to learn his lesson of a more perfect devotion, how to meditate and
how to pray, from "the works of Bishop Hay"; it is hardly more easy to
forbear a smile at his recording it. But Bishop Hay was a sort of
symbol, and represents, he says, English as opposed to foreign habits
of thought; and to these English habits he not only gives his
preference, but he maintains that they are more truly those of the
whole Roman Catholic body in England than the more showy and extreme
doctrines of a newer school. Dr. Pusey does wrong, he says, in taking
this new school as the true exponent of Roman Catholic ideas. That it
is popular he admits, but its popularity is to be accounted for by
personal qualifications in its leaders for gaining the ear of the
world, without supposing that they speak for their body.

Though I am a convert, then, I think I have a right to speak out;
and that the more because other converts have spoken for a long
time, while I have not spoken; and with still more reason may I
speak without offence in the case of your present criticisms of
us, considering that in the charges you bring the only two English
writers you quote in evidence are both of them converts, younger
in age than myself. I put aside the Archbishop of course, because
of his office. These two authors are worthy of all consideration,
at once from their character and from their ability. In their
respective lines they are perhaps without equals at this
particular time; and they deserve the influence they possess. One
is still in the vigour of his powers; the other has departed amid
the tears of hundreds. It is pleasant to praise them for their
real qualifications; but why do you rest on them as authorities?
Because the one was "a popular writer"; but is there not
sufficient reason for this in the fact of his remarkable gifts, of
his poetical fancy, his engaging frankness, his playful wit, his
affectionateness, his sensitive piety, without supposing that the
wide diffusion of his works arises out of his particular
sentiments about the Blessed Virgin? And as to our other friend,
do not his energy, acuteness, and theological reading, displayed
on the vantage ground of the historic _Dublin Review_, fully
account for the sensation he has produced, without supposing that
any great number of our body go his lengths in their view of the
Pope's infallibility? Our silence as regards their writings is
very intelligible; it is not agreeable to protest, in the sight of
the world, against the writings of men in our own communion whom
we love and respect. But the plain fact is this--they came to the
Church, and have thereby saved their souls; but they are in no
sense spokesmen for English Catholics, and they must not stand in
the place of those who have a real title to such an office.

And he appeals from them, as authorities, to a list of much more sober
and modest writers, though, it may be, the names of all of them are not
familiar to the public. He enumerates as the "chief authors of the
passing generation," "Cardinal Wiseman, Dr. Ullathorne, Dr. Lingard,
Mr. Tierney, Dr. Oliver, Dr. Rock, Dr. Waterworth, Dr. Husenbeth, Mr.
Flanagan." If these well-practised and circumspect veterans in the
ancient controversy are not original and brilliant, at least they are
safe; and Dr. Newman will not allow the flighty intellectualism which
takes more hold of modern readers to usurp their place, and for himself
he sturdily and bluffly declines to give up his old standing-ground for
any one:--

I cannot, then, without remonstrance, allow you to identify the
doctrine of our Oxford friends in question, on the two subjects I
have mentioned, with the present spirit or the prospective creed
of Catholics; or to assume, as you do, that because they are
thoroughgoing and relentless in their statements, therefore they
are the harbingers of a new age, when to show a deference for
Antiquity will be thought little else than a mistake. For myself,
hopeless as you consider it, I am not ashamed still to take my
stand upon the Fathers, and do not mean to budge. The history of
their time is not yet an old almanac to me. Of course I maintain
the value and authority of the "Schola," as one of the _loci
theologici_; still I sympathise with Petavius in preferring to its
"contentious and subtle theology" that "more elegant and fruitful
teaching which is moulded after the image of erudite antiquity."
The Fathers made me a Catholic, and I am not going to kick down
the ladder by which I ascended into the Church. It is a ladder
quite as serviceable for that purpose now as it was twenty years
ago. Though I hold, as you remark, a process of development in
Apostolic truth as time goes on, such development does not
supersede the Fathers, but explains and completes them.

Is he right in saying that he is not responsible as a Roman Catholic
for the extravagances that Dr. Pusey dwells upon? He is, it seems to
us, and he is not. No doubt the Roman Catholic system is in practice a
wide one, and he has a right, which we are glad to see that he is
disposed to exercise, to maintain the claims of moderation and
soberness, and to decline to submit his judgment to the fashionable
theories of the hour. A stand made for independence and good sense
against the pressure of an exacting and overbearing dogmatism is a good
thing for everybody, though made in a camp with which we have nothing
to do. He goes far enough, indeed, as it is. Still, it is something
that a great writer, of whose genius and religious feeling Englishmen
will one day be even prouder than they are now, should disconnect
himself from the extreme follies of his party, and attempt to represent
what is the nobler and more elevated side of the system to which he has
attached himself. But it seems to us much more difficult for him to
release his cause from complicity with the doctrines which he dislikes
and fears. We have no doubt that he is not alone, and that there are
numbers of his English brethren who are provoked and ashamed at the
self-complacent arrogance and childish folly shown in exaggerating and
caricaturing doctrines which are, in the eyes of most Englishmen,
extravagant enough in themselves. But the question is whether he or the
innovators represent the true character and tendencies of their
religious system. It must be remembered that with a jealous and touchy
Government, like that of the Roman Church, which professes the duty and
boasts of the power to put down all dangerous ideas and language, mere
tolerance means much. Dr. Newman speaks as an Englishman when he writes

This is specially the case with great ideas. You may stifle them;
or you may refuse them elbow-room; or you may torment them with
your continual meddling; or you may let them have free course and
range, and be content, instead of anticipating their excesses, to
expose and restrain those excesses after they have occurred. But
you have only this alternative; and for myself, I prefer much,
wherever it is possible, to be first generous and then just; to
grant full liberty of thought, and to call it to account when

But that has never been the principle of his Church. At least, the
liberty which it has allowed has been a most one-sided liberty. It has
been the liberty to go any length in developing the favourite opinions
about the power of the Pope, or some popular form of devotion; but as
to other ideas, not so congenial, "great" ones and little ones too, the
lists of the Roman Index bear witness to the sensitive vigilance which
took alarm even at remote danger. And those whose pride it is that they
are ever ready and able to stop all going astray must be held
responsible for the going astray which they do not stop, especially
when it coincides with what they wish and like.

But these extreme writers do not dream of tolerance. They stoutly and
boldly maintain that they but interpret in the only natural and
consistent manner the mind of their Church; and no public or official
contradiction meets them. There may be a disapproving opinion in their
own body, but it does not show itself. The disclaimer of even such a
man as Dr. Newman is in the highest degree guarded and qualified. They
are the people who can excite attention and gain a hearing, though it
be an adverse one. They have the power to make themselves the most
prominent and accredited representatives of their creed, and, if
thoroughgoing boldness and ability are apt to attract the growth of
thought and conviction, they are those who are likely to mould its
future form. Sober prudent people may prefer the caution of Dr.
Newman's "chief authors," but to the world outside most of these will
be little more than names, and the advanced party, which talks most
strongly about the Pope's infallibility and devotion to St. Mary, has
this to say for itself. Popular feeling everywhere in the Roman
communion appears to go with it, and authority both in Rome and in
England shelters and sanctions it. Nothing can be more clearly and
forcibly stated than the following assertions of the unimpeachable
claim of "dominant opinions" in the Roman Catholic system by the
highest Roman Catholic authority in England. "It is an ill-advised
overture of peace," writes Archbishop Manning,

to assail the popular, prevalent, and dominant opinions,
devotions, and doctrines of the Catholic Church with hostile
criticism.... The presence and assistance of the Holy Ghost, which
secures the Church within the sphere of faith and morals, invests
it also with instincts and a discernment which preside over its
worship and doctrines, its practices and customs. We may be sure
that whatever is prevalent in the Church, under the eye of its
public authority, practised by the people, and not censured by its
pastors, is at least conformable to faith and innocent as to
morals. Whosoever rises up to condemn such practices and opinions
thereby convicts himself of the private spirit which is the root
of heresy. But if it be ill-advised to assail the mind of the
Church, it is still more so to oppose its visible Head. There can
be no doubt that the Sovereign Pontiff has declared the same
opinion as to the temporal power as that which is censured in
others, and that he defined the Immaculate Conception, and that he
believes in his own infallibility. If these things be our
reproach, we share it with the Vicar of Jesus Christ. They are not
our private opinions, nor the tenets of a school, but the mind of
the Pontiff, as they were of his predecessors, as they will be of
those who come after him.--Archbishop Manning's _Pastoral_, pp.
64-66, 1866.

To maintain his liberty against extreme opinions generally is one of
Dr. Newman's objects in writing his letter; the other is to state
distinctly what he holds and what he does not hold, as regards the
subject on which Dr. Pusey's appeal has naturally made so deep an

I do so, because you say, as I myself have said in former years,
that "That vast system as to the Blessed Virgin ... to all of us
has been the special _crux_ of the Roman system" (p. 101). Here, I
say, as on other points, the Fathers are enough for me. I do not
wish to say more than they, and will not say less. You, I know,
will profess the same; and thus we can join issue on a clear and
broad principle, and may hope to come to some intelligible result.
We are to have a treatise on the subject of Our Lady soon from the
pen of the Most Rev. Prelate; but that cannot interfere with such
a mere argument from the Fathers as that to which I shall confine
myself here. Nor, indeed, as regards that argument itself, do I
profess to be offering you any new matter, any facts which have
not been used by others,--by great divines, as Petavius, by living
writers, nay, by myself on other occasions. I write afresh,
nevertheless, and that for three reasons--first, because I wish to
contribute to the accurate statement and the full exposition of
the argument in question; next, because I may gain a more patient
hearing than has sometimes been granted to better men than myself;
lastly, because there just now seems a call on me, under my
circumstances, to avow plainly what I do and what I do not hold
about the Blessed Virgin, that others may know, did they come to
stand where I stand, what they would and what they would not be
bound to hold concerning her.

If this "vast system" is a _crux_ to any one, we cannot think that even
Dr. Newman's explanation will make it easier. He himself recoils, as
any Englishman of sense and common feeling must, at the wild
extravagances into which this devotion has run. But he accepts and
defends, on the most precarious grounds, the whole system of thought
out of which they have sprung by no very violent process of growth. He
cannot, of course, stop short of accepting the definition of the
Immaculate Conception as an article of faith, and, though he
emphatically condemns, with a warmth and energy of which no one can
doubt the sincerity, a number of revolting consequences drawn from the
theology of which that dogma is the expression, he is obliged to defend
everything up to that. For a professed disciple of the Fathers this is
not easy. If anything is certain, it is that the place which the
Blessed Virgin occupies in the Roman Catholic system--popular or
authoritative, if it is possible fairly to urge such a distinction in a
system which boasts of all-embracing authority--is something perfectly
different from anything known in the first four centuries. In all the
voluminous writings on theology which remain from them we may look in
vain for any traces of that feeling which finds words in the common
hymn, "_Ave, marls Stella_" and which makes her fill so large a space
in the teaching and devotion of the Roman Church. Dr. Newman attempts
to meet this difficulty by a distinction. The doctrine, he says, was
there, the same then as now; it is only the feelings, behaviour, and
usages, the practical consequences naturally springing from the
doctrine, which have varied or grown:--

I fully grant that the _devotion_ towards the Blessed Virgin has
increased among Catholics with the progress of centuries. I do not
allow that the _doctrine_ concerning her has undergone a growth,
for I believe it has been in substance one and the same from the

There is, doubtless, such a distinction, though whether available for
Dr. Newman's purpose is another matter. But when we recollect that
modern "doctrine," besides defining the Immaculate Conception, places
her next in glory to the Throne of God, and makes her the Queen of
Heaven, and the all-prevailing intercessor with her Son, the assertion
as to "doctrine" is a bold one. It rests, as it seems to us, simply on
Dr. Newman identifying his own inferences from the language of the
ancient writers whom he quotes with the language itself. They say a
certain thing--that Mary is the "second Eve." Dr. Newman, with all the
theology and all the controversies of eighteen centuries in his mind,
deduces from this statement a number of refined consequences as to her
sinlessness, and greatness, and reward, which seem to him to flow from
it, and says that it means all these consequences. Mr. Ruskin somewhere
quotes the language of an "eminent Academician," who remarks, in answer
to some criticism on a picture, "that if you look for curves, you will
see curves; and if you look for angles, you will see angles." So it is
here. The very dogma of the Immaculate Conception itself Dr. Newman
sees indissolubly involved in the "rudimentary teaching" which insists
on the parallelism between Eve and Mary:--

Was not Mary as fully endowed as Eve?... If Eve was (as Bishop
Bull and others maintain) raised above human nature by that
indwelling moral gift which we call grace, is it rash to say that
Mary had a greater grace?... And if Eve had this supernatural
inward gift given her from the moment of her personal existence,
is it possible to deny that Mary, too, had this gift from the very
first moment of her personal existence? I do not know how to
resist this inference:--well, this is simply and literally the
doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. I say the doctrine of the
Immaculate Conception is in its substance this, and nothing more
or less than this (putting aside the question of degrees of
grace), and it really does seem to me bound up in that doctrine of
the Fathers, that Mary is the second Eve.

It seems obvious to remark that the Fathers are not even alleged to
have themselves drawn this irresistible inference; and next, that even
if it be drawn, there is a long interval between it and the elevation
of the Mother of Jesus Christ to the place to which modern Roman
doctrine raises her. Possibly, the Fathers might have said, as many
people will say now, that, in a matter of this kind, it is idle to draw
inferences when we are, in reality, utterly without the knowledge to
make them worth anything. At any rate, if they had drawn them, we
should have found some traces of it in their writings, and we find
none. We find abundance of poetical addresses and rhetorical
amplification, which makes it all the more remarkable that the plain
dogmatic view of her position, which is accepted by the Roman Church,
does not appear in them. We only find a "rudimentary doctrine," which,
naturally enough, gives the Blessed Virgin a very high and sacred place
in the economy of the Incarnation. But how does the doctrine, as it is
found in even their rhetorical passages, go a step beyond what would be
accepted by any sober reader of the New Testament? They speak of what
she was; they do not presume to say what she is. What Protestant could
have the slightest difficulty in saying not only what Justin says, and
Tertullian copies from him, and Irenaeus enlarges upon, but what Dr.
Newman himself says of her awful and solitary dignity, always excepting
the groundless assumption which, from her office in this world takes
for granted, first her sinlessness, and then a still higher office in
the next? We do not think that, as a matter of literary criticism, Dr.
Newman is fair in his argument from the Fathers. He lays great stress
on Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Irenaeus, as three independent
witnesses from different parts of the world; whereas it is obvious that
Tertullian at any rate copies almost literally from Justin Martyr, and
it is impossible to compare a mere incidental point of rhetorical, or,
if it be so, argumentative illustration, occurring once or twice in a
long treatise, with a doctrine, such as that of the Incarnation itself,
on which the whole treatise is built, and of which it is full. The
wonder is, indeed, that the Fathers, considering how much they wrote,
said so little of her; scarcely less is it a wonder, then, that the New
Testament says so little, but from this little the only reason which
would prevent a Protestant reader of the New Testament from accepting
the highest statement of her historical dignity is the reaction from
the development of them into the consequences which have been notorious
for centuries in the unreformed Churches. Protestants, left to
themselves, are certainly not prone to undervalue the saints of
Scripture; it has been the presence of the great system of popular
worship confronting them which has tied their tongues in this matter.
Yet Anglican theologians like Mr. Keble, popular poets like Wordsworth,
broad Churchmen like Mr. Robertson, have said things which even Roman
Catholics might quote as expressions of their feeling. But Dr. Newman
must know that many things may be put, and put most truly, into the
form of poetical expression which will not bear hardening into a dogma.
A Protestant may accept and even amplify the ideas suggested by
Scripture about the Blessed Virgin; but he may feel that he cannot tell
how the Redeemer was preserved from sinful taint; what was the grace
bestowed on His mother; or what was the reward and prerogative which
ensued to her. But it is just these questions which the Roman doctrine
undertakes to answer without a shadow of doubt, and which Dr. Newman
implies that the theology of the Fathers answered as unambiguously.

But from what has happened in the history of religion, we do not think
that Protestants in general who do not shrink from high language about
Abraham, Moses, or David, would find anything unnatural or
objectionable in the language of the early Christian writers about the
Mother of our Lord, though possibly it might not be their own; but the
interval from this language to that certain knowledge of her present
office in the economy of grace which is implied in what Dr. Newman
considers the "doctrine" about her is a very long one. The step to the
modern "devotion" in its most chastened form is longer still. We cannot
follow the subtle train of argument which says that because the
"doctrine" of the second century called her the "second Eve," therefore
the devotion which sets her upon the altars of Christendom in the
nineteenth is a right development of the doctrine. What is wanted is
not the internal thread of the process, but the proof and confirmation
from without that it was the right process; and this link is just what
is wanting, except on a supposition which begs the question. It is
conceivable that this step from "doctrine" to "devotion" may have been
a mistake. It is conceivable that the "doctrine" may have been held in
the highest form without leading to the devotion; for Dr. Newman, of
course, thinks that Athanasius and Augustine held "the doctrine," yet,
as he says, "we have no proof that Athanasius himself had any special
devotion to the Blessed Virgin," and in another place he repeats his
doubts whether St. Chrysostom or St. Athanasius invoked her; "nay," he
adds, "I should like to know whether St. Augustine, in all his
voluminous writings, invokes her once." What has to be shown is, that
this step was not a mistake; that it was inevitable and legitimate.

"This being the faith of the Fathers about the Blessed Virgin," says
Dr. Newman, "we need not wonder that it should in no long time be
transmuted into devotion." The Fathers expressed a historical fact
about her in the term [Greek: Theotokos]; therefore, argues the later
view, she is the source of our present grace now. It is the _rationale_
of this inference, which is not an immediate or obvious one, which is
wanted. And Dr. Newman gives it us in the words of Bishop Butler:--

Christianity is eminently an objective religion. For the most part
it tells us of persons and facts in simple words, and leaves the
announcement to produce its effect on such hearts as are prepared
to receive it. This, at least, is its general character; and
Butler recognises it as such in his _Analogy_, when speaking of
the Second and Third Persons of the Holy Trinity:--"The internal
worship," he says, "to the Son and Holy Ghost is no farther matter
of pure revealed command than as the relations they stand in to us
are matters of pure revelation; but the relations being known, the
obligations to such internal worship are _obligations of reason
arising out of those relations themselves_."

We acknowledge the pertinency of the quotation. So true is it that "the
relations being known," the obligations of worship arise of themselves
from these relations, that if the present relation of the Blessed
Virgin to mankind has always been considered to be what modern Roman
theology considers it, it is simply inconceivable that devotion to her
should not have been universal long before St. Athanasius and St.
Augustine; and equally inconceivable, to take Dr. Newman's remarkable
illustration, that if the real position of St. Joseph is next to her,
it should have been reserved for the nineteenth century, if not,
indeed, to find it out, at least to acknowledge it; but the whole
question is about the fact of the "relations" themselves. If we believe
that the Second and Third Persons are God, we do not want to be told to
worship them. But such a relation as Dr. Newman supposes in the case of
the Blessed Virgin does not flow of itself from the idea contained, for
instance, in the word [Greek: Theotokos], and even if it did, we should
still want to be told, in the case of a creature, and remembering the
known jealousy of religion of even the semblance of creature worship,
what _are_ the "religious regards," which, not flowing from the nature
of the case, but needing to be distinctly authorised, are right and

The question is of a dogmatic and a popular system. We most fully admit
that, with Dr. Newman or any other of the numberless well-trained and
excellent men in the Roman Church, the homage to the Mother does not
interfere with the absolutely different honour rendered to the Son. We
readily acknowledge the elevating and refining beauty of that
character, of which the Virgin Mother is the type, and the services
which that ideal has rendered to mankind, though we must emphatically
say that a man need not be a Roman Catholic to feel and to express the
charm of that moral beauty. But here we have a doctrine as definite and
precise as any doctrine can be, and a great system of popular devotion,
giving a character to a great religious communion. Dr. Newman is not
merely developing and illustrating an idea: he is asserting a definite
revealed fact about the unseen world, and defending its consequences in
a very concrete and practical shape. And the real point is what proof
has he given us that this is a revealed fact; that it is so, and that
we have the means of knowing it? He has given us certain language of
the early writers, which he says is a tradition, though it is only what
any Protestant might have been led to by reading his Bible. But between
that language, taken at its highest, and the belief and practice which
his Church maintains, there is a great gap. The "Second Eve," the
[Greek: Theotokos], are names of high dignity; but enlarge upon them as
we may, there is between them and the modern "Regina Coeli" an interval
which nothing but direct divine revelation can possibly fill; and of
this divine revelation the only evidence is the fact that there is the
doctrine. So awful and central an article of belief needs corresponding
proof. In Dr. Newman's eloquent pages we have much collateral thought
on the subject--sometimes instinct with his delicacy of perception and
depth of feeling, sometimes strangely over-refined and irrelevant, but
always fresh and instructive, whether to teach or to warn. The one
thing which is missing in them is direct proof.

He does not satisfy us, but he does greatly interest us in his way of
dealing with the practical consequences of his doctrine, in the
manifold development of devotion in his communion. What he tells us
reveals two things. By this devotion he is at once greatly attracted,
and he is deeply shocked. No one can doubt the enthusiasm with which he
has thrown himself into that devotion, an enthusiasm which, if it was
at one time more vehement and defiant than it is now, is still a most
intense element in his religious convictions. Nor do we feel entitled
to say that in him it interferes with religious ideas and feelings of a
higher order, which we are accustomed to suppose imperilled by it. It
leads him, indeed, to say things which astonish us, not so much by
their extreme language as by the absence, as it seems to us, of any
ground to say them at all. It forces him into a championship for
statements, in defending which the utmost that can be done is to frame
ingenious pleas, or to send back a vigorous retort. It tempts him at
times to depart from his generally broad and fair way of viewing
things, as when he meets the charge that the Son is forgotten for the
Mother, not merely by a denial, but by the rejoinder that when the
Mother is not honoured as the Roman Church honours her the honour of
the Son fails. It would have been better not to have reprinted the
following extract from a former work, even though it were singled out
for approval by the late Cardinal. The italics are his own:--

I have spoken more on this subject in my _Essay on Development_,
p. 438, "Nor does it avail to object that, in this contrast of
devotional exercises, the human is sure to supplant the Divine,
from the infirmity of our nature; for, I repeat, the question is
one of fact, whether it has done so. And next, it must be asked,
_whether the character of Protestant devotion towards Our Lord has
been that of worship at all_; and not rather such as we pay to an
excellent human being.... Carnal minds will ever create a carnal
worship for themselves, and to forbid them the service of the
saints will have no tendency to teach them the worship of God.
Moreover, ... great and constant as is the devotion which the
Catholic pays to St. Mary, it has a special province, and _has far
more connection with the public services and the festive aspect of
Christianity_, and with certain extraordinary offices which she
holds, _than with what is strictly personal and primary in religion_".
Our late Cardinal, on my reception, singled out to me this last
sentence, for the expression of his especial approbation.

Can Dr. Newman defend the first of these two assertions, when he
remembers such books of popular Protestant devotion as Wesley's Hymns,
or the German hymn-books of which we have examples in the well-known
_Lyra Germanica_? Can he deny the second when he remembers the
exercises of the "Mois de Marie" in French churches, or if he has heard
a fervid and earnest preacher at the end of them urge on a church full
of young people, fresh from Confirmation and first Communion, a special
and personal self-dedication to the great patroness for protection amid
the daily trials of life, in much the same terms as in an English
Church they might be exhorted to commit themselves to the Redeemer of
mankind? Right or wrong, such devotion is not a matter of the "festive
aspect" of religion, but most eminently of what is "personal and
primary" in it; and surely of such a character is a vast proportion of
the popular devotion here spoken of.

But for himself, no doubt, he has accepted this _cultus_ on its most
elevated and refined side. He himself makes the distinction, and says
that there is "a healthy" and an "artificial" form of it; a devotion
which does not shock "solid piety and Christian good sense; I cannot
help calling this the English style." And when other sides are
presented to him, he feels what any educated Englishman who allows his
English feelings play is apt to feel about them. What is more, he has
the boldness to say so. He makes all kinds of reserves to save the
credit of those with whom he cannot sympathise. He speaks of the
privileges of Saints; the peculiarities of national temperament; the
distinctions between popular language and that used by scholastic
writers, or otherwise marked by circumstances; the special characters
of some of the writers quoted, their "ruthless logic," or their
obscurity; the inculpated passages are but few and scattered in
proportion to their context; they are harsh, but sound worse than they
mean; they are hardly interpreted and pressed. He reminds Dr. Pusey
that there is not much to choose between the Oriental Churches and Rome
on this point, and that of the two the language of the Eastern is the
most florid; luxuriant, and unguarded. But, after all, the true feeling
comes out at last, "And now, at length," he says, "coming to the
statements, not English, but foreign, which offend you, I will frankly
say that I read some of those which you quote with grief and almost
anger." They are "perverse sayings," which he hates. He fills a page
and a half with a number of them, and then deliberately pronounces his
rejection of them.

After such explanations, and with such authorities to clear my
path, I put away from me as you would wish, without any
hesitation, as matters in which my heart and reason have no part
(when taken in their literal and absolute sense, as any Protestant
would naturally take them, and as the writers doubtless did not
use them), such sentences and phrases as these:--that the mercy of
Mary is infinite, that God has resigned into her hands His
omnipotence, that (unconditionally) it is safer to seek her than
her Son, that the Blessed Virgin is superior to God, that He is
(simply) subject to her command, that our Lord is now of the same
disposition as His Father towards sinners--viz. a disposition to
reject them, while Mary takes His place as an Advocate with the
Father and Son; that the Saints are more ready to intercede with
Jesus than Jesus with the Father, that Mary is the only refuge of
those with whom God is angry; that Mary alone can obtain a
Protestant's conversion; that it would have sufficed for the
salvation of men if our Lord had died, not to obey His Father, but
to defer to the decree of His Mother, that she rivals our Lord in
being God's daughter, not by adoption, but by a kind of nature;
that Christ fulfilled the office of Saviour by imitating her
virtues; that, as the Incarnate God bore the image of His Father,
so He bore the image of His Mother; that redemption derived from
Christ indeed its sufficiency, but from Mary its beauty and
loveliness; that as we are clothed with the merits of Christ so we
are clothed with the merits of Mary; that, as He is Priest, in
like manner is she Priestess; that His body and blood in the
Eucharist are truly hers, and appertain to her; that as He is
present and received therein, so is she present and received
therein; that Priests are ministers as of Christ, so of Mary; that
elect souls are, born of God and Mary; that the Holy Ghost brings
into fruitfulness His action by her, producing in her and by her
Jesus Christ in His members; that the kingdom of God in our souls,
as our Lord speaks, is really the kingdom of Mary in the soul--and
she and the Holy Ghost produce in the soul extraordinary
things--and when the Holy Ghost finds Mary in a soul He flies

Sentiments such as these I never knew of till I read your book,
nor, as I think, do the vast majority of English Catholics know
them. They seem to me like a bad dream. I could not have conceived
them to be said. I know not to what authority to go for them, to
Scripture, or to the Fathers, or to the decrees of Councils, or to
the consent of schools, or to the tradition of the faithful, or to
the Holy See, or to Reason. They defy all the _loci theologici_.
There is nothing of them in the Missal, in the Roman Catechism, in
the Roman _Raccolta_, in the Imitation of Christ, in Gother,
Challoner, Milner, or Wiseman, so far as I am aware. They do but
scare and confuse me. I should not be holier, more spiritual, more
sure of perseverance, if I twisted my moral being into the
reception of them; I should but be guilty of fulsome frigid
flattery towards the most upright and noble of God's creatures if
I professed them--and of stupid flattery too; for it would be like
the compliment of painting up a young and beautiful princess with
the brow of a Plato and the muscle of an Achilles. And I should
expect her to tell one of her people in waiting to turn me off her
service without warning. Whether thus to feel be the _scandalum
parvulorum_ in my case, or the _scandalum Pharisaeorum_, I leave
others to decide; but I will say plainly that I had rather believe
(which is impossible) that there is no God at all, than that Mary
is greater than God. I will have nothing to do with statements,
which can only be explained by being explained away. I do not,
however, speak of these statements, as they are found in their
authors, for I know nothing of the originals, and cannot believe
that they have meant what you say; but I take them as they lie in
your pages. Were any of them, the sayings of Saints in ecstasy, I
should know they had a good meaning; still I should not repeat
them myself; but I am looking at them, not as spoken by the
tongues of Angels, but according to that literal sense which they
bear in the mouths of English men and English women. And, as
spoken by man to man in England in the nineteenth century, I
consider them calculated to prejudice inquirers, to frighten the
unlearned, to unsettle consciences, to provoke blasphemy, and to
work the loss of souls.

Of course; it is what might be expected of him. But Dr. Newman has
often told us that we must take the consequences of our principles and
theories, and here are some of the consequences which meet him; and, as
he says, they "scare and confuse him." He boldly disavows them with no
doubtful indignation. But what other voice but his, of equal authority
and weight, has been lifted up to speak the plain truth about them?
Why, if they are wrong, extravagant, dangerous, is his protest
solitary? His communion has never been wanting in jealousy of dangerous
doctrines, and it is vain to urge that these things and things like
them have been said in a corner. The Holy Office is apt to detect
mischief in small writers as well as great, even if these teachers were
as insignificant as Dr. Newman would gladly make them. Taken as a
whole, and in connection with notorious facts, these statements are
fair examples of manifest tendencies, which certainly are not on the
decline. And if a great and spreading popular _cultus_, encouraged and
urged on beyond all former precedent, is in danger of being developed
by its warmest and most confident advocates into something of which
unreason is the lightest fault, is there not ground for interfering?
Doubtless Roman writers maybe quoted by Dr. Newman, who felt that there
was a danger, and we are vaguely told about some checks given to one or
two isolated extravagances, which, however, in spite of the checks, do
not seem to be yet extinct. But Allocutions and Encyclicals are not for
errors of this kind. Dr. Newman says that "it is wiser for the most
part to leave these excesses to the gradual operation of public
opinion,--that is, to the opinion of educated and sober Catholics; and
this seems to me the healthiest way of putting them down." We quite
agree with him; but his own Church does not think so; and we want to
see some evidence of a public opinion in it capable of putting them
down. As it is, he is reduced to say that "the line cannot be logically
drawn between the teaching of the Fathers on the subject and our own;"
an assertion which, if it were true, would be more likely to drag down
one teaching than to prop up the other; he has to find reasons, and
doubtless they are to be found thick as blackberries, for accounting
for one extravagance, softening down another, declining to judge a
third. But in the meantime the "devotion" in its extreme form, far
beyond what he would call the teaching of his Church, has its way; it
maintains its ground; it becomes the mark of the bold, the advanced,
the refined, as well as of the submissive and the crowd; it roots
itself under the shelter of an authority which would stop it if it was
wrong; it becomes "dominant"; it becomes at length part of that "mind
of the living Church" which, we are told, it is heresy to impugn,
treason to appeal from, and the extravagance of impertinent folly to
talk of reforming.

It is very little use, then, for Dr. Newman to tell Dr. Pusey or any
one else, "You may safely trust us English Catholics as to this
devotion." "English Catholics," as such,--it is the strength and the
weakness of their system,--have really the least to say in the matter.
The question is not about trusting "us English Catholics," but the
Pope, and the Roman Congregation, and those to whom the Roman
authorities delegate their sanction and give their countenance. If Dr.
Newman is able, as we doubt not he is desirous, to elevate the tone of
his own communion and put to shame some of its fashionable excesses, he
will do a great work, in which we wish him every success, though the
result of it might not really be to bring the body of his countrymen
nearer to it. But the substance of Dr. Pusey's charges remain after all
unanswered, and there is no getting over them while they remain. They
are of that broad, palpable kind against which the refinements of
argumentative apology play in vain. They can only be met by those who
feel their force, on some principle equally broad. Dr. Newman suggests
such a ground in the following remarks, which, much as they want
qualification and precision, have a basis of reality in them:--

It is impossible, I say, in a doctrine like this, to draw the line
cleanly between truth and error, right and wrong. This is ever the
case in concrete matters which have life. Life in this world is
motion, and involves a continual process of change. Living things
grow into their perfection, into their decline, into their death.
No rule of art will suffice to stop the operation of this natural
law, whether in the material world or in the human mind.... What
has power to stir holy and refined souls is potent also with the
multitude, and the religion of the multitude is ever vulgar and
abnormal; it ever will be tinctured with fanaticism and
superstition while men are what they are. A people's religion is
ever a corrupt religion. If you are to have a Catholic Church you
must put up with fish of every kind, guests good and bad, vessels
of gold, vessels of earth. You may beat religion out of men, if you
will, and then their excesses will take a different direction; but
if you make use of religion to improve them, they will make use of
religion to corrupt it. And then you will have effected that
compromise of which our countrymen report so unfavourably from
abroad,--a high grand faith and worship which compels their
admiration, and puerile absurdities among the people which excite
their contempt.

It is like Dr. Newman to put his case in this broad way, making large
admissions, allowing for much inevitable failure. That is, he defends
his Church as he would defend Christianity generally, taking it as a
great practical system must be in this world, working with human nature
as it is. His reflection is, no doubt, one suggested by a survey of the
cause of all religion. The coming short of the greatest promisee, the
debasement of the noblest ideals, are among the commonplaces of
history. Christianity cannot be maintained without ample admissions of
failure and perversion. But it is one thing to make this admission for
Christianity generally, an admission which the New Testament in
foretelling its fortunes gives us abundant ground for making; and quite
another for those who maintain the superiority of one form of
Christianity above all others, to claim that they may leave out of the
account its characteristic faults. It is quite true that all sides
abundantly need to appeal for considerate judgment to the known
infirmity of human nature; but amid the conflicting pretensions which
divide Christendom no one side can ask to have for itself the exclusive
advantage of this plea. All may claim the benefit of it, but if it is
denied to any it must be denied to all. In this confused and imperfect
world other great popular systems of religion besides the Roman may use
it in behalf of shortcomings, which, though perhaps very different, are
yet not worse. It is obvious that the theory of great and living ideas,
working with a double edge, and working for mischief at last, holds
good for other things besides the special instance on which Dr. Newman
comments. It is to be further observed that to claim the benefit of
this plea is to make the admission that you come under the common law
of human nature as to mistake, perversion, and miscarriage, and this in
the matter of religious guidance the Roman theory refuses to do. It
claims for its communion as its special privilege an exemption from
those causes of corruption of which history is the inexorable witness,
and to which others admit themselves to be liable; an immunity from
going wrong, a supernatural exception from the common tendency of
mankind to be led astray, from the common necessity to correct and
reform themselves when they are proved wrong. How far this is realised,
not on paper and in argument, but in fact, is indeed one of the most
important questions for the world, and it is one to which the world
will pay more heed than to the best writing about it There are not
wanting signs, among others of a very different character, of an honest
and philosophical recognition of this by some of the ablest writers of
the Roman communion. The day on which the Roman Church ceases to
maintain that what it holds must be truth because it holds it, and
admits itself subject to the common condition by which God has given
truth to men, will be the first hopeful day for the reunion of



_Parochial and Plain Sermons_. By John Henry Newman, B.D., formerly
Vicar of St. Mary's, Oxford. Edited by W.J. Copeland, B.D. _Saturday
Review_, 5th June 1869.

Dr. Newman's Sermons stand by themselves in modern English literature;
it might be said, in English literature generally. There have been
equally great masterpieces of English writing in this form of
composition, and there have been preachers whose theological depth,
acquaintance with the heart, earnestness, tenderness, and power have
not been inferior to his. But the great writers do not touch, pierce,
and get hold of minds as he does, and those who are famous for the
power and results of their preaching do not write as he does. His
sermons have done more perhaps than any one thing to mould and quicken
and brace the religious temper of our time; they have acted with equal
force on those who were nearest and on those who were farthest from him
in theological opinion. They have altered the whole manner of feeling
towards religious subjects. We know now that they were the beginning,
the signal and first heave, of a vast change that was to come over the
subject; of a demand from religion of a thoroughgoing reality of
meaning and fulfilment, which is familiar to us, but was new when it
was first made. And, being this, these sermons are also among the very
finest examples of what the English language of our day has done in the
hands of a master. Sermons of such intense conviction and directness of
purpose, combined with such originality and perfection on their purely
literary side, are rare everywhere. Remarkable instances, of course,
will occur to every one of the occasional exhibition of this
combination, but not in so sustained and varied and unfailing a way.
Between Dr. Newman and the great French school there is this
difference--that they are orators, and he is as far as anything can be
in a great preacher from an orator. Those who remember the tones and
the voice in which the sermons were heard at St. Mary's--we may refer
to Professor Shairp's striking account in his volume on Keble, and to a
recent article in the _Dublin Review_--can remember how utterly unlike
an orator in all outward ways was the speaker who so strangely moved
them. The notion of judging of Dr. Newman as an orator never crossed
their minds. And this puts a difference between him and a remarkable
person whose name has sometimes been joined with his--Mr. F. Robertson.
Mr. Robertson was a great preacher, but he was not a writer.

It is difficult to realise at present the effect produced originally by
these sermons. The first feeling was that of their difference in manner
from the customary sermon. People knew what an eloquent sermon was, or
a learned sermon, or a philosophical sermon, or a sermon full of
doctrine or pious unction. Chalmers and Edward Irving and Robert Hall
were familiar names; the University pulpit and some of the London
churches had produced examples of forcible argument and severe and
finished composition; and of course instances were abundant everywhere
of the good, sensible, commonplace discourse; of all that was heavy,
dull, and dry, and of all that was ignorant, wild, fanatical, and
irrational. But no one seemed to be able, or to be expected, unless he
avowedly took the buffoonery line which some of the Evangelical
preachers affected, to speak in the pulpit with the directness and
straightforward unconventionality with which men speak on the practical
business of life. With all the thought and vigour and many beauties
which were in the best sermons, there was always something forced,
formal, artificial about them; something akin to that mild pomp which
usually attended their delivery, with beadles in gowns ushering the
preacher to the carpeted pulpit steps, with velvet cushions, and with
the rustle and fulness of his robes. No one seemed to think of writing
a sermon as he would write an earnest letter. A preacher must approach
his subject in a kind of roundabout make-believe of preliminary and
preparatory steps, as if he was introducing his hearers to what they
had never heard of; make-believe difficulties and objections were
overthrown by make-believe answers; an unnatural position both in
speaker and hearers, an unreal state of feeling and view of facts, a
systematic conventional exaggeration, seemed almost impossible to be
avoided; and those who tried to escape being laboured and grandiloquent
only escaped it, for the most part, by being vulgar or slovenly. The
strong severe thinkers, jealous for accuracy, and loathing clap-trap as
they loathed loose argument, addressed and influenced intelligence; but
sermons are meant for heart and souls as well as minds, and to the
heart, with its trials and its burdens, men like Whately never found
their way. Those who remember the preaching of those days, before it
began to be influenced by the sermons at St. Mary's, will call to mind
much that was interesting, much that was ingenious, much correction of
inaccurate and confused views, much manly encouragement to high
principle and duty, much of refined and scholarlike writing. But for
soul and warmth, and the imaginative and poetical side of the religious
life, you had to go where thought and good sense were not likely to be

The contrast of Mr. Newman's preaching was not obvious at first. The
outside form and look was very much that of the regular best Oxford
type--calm, clear, and lucid in expression, strong in its grasp,
measured in statement, and far too serious to think of rhetorical
ornament. But by degrees much more opened. The range of experience from
which the preacher drew his materials, and to which he appealed, was
something wider, subtler, and more delicate than had been commonly
dealt with in sermons. With his strong, easy, exact, elastic language,
the instrument of a powerful and argumentative mind, he plunged into
the deep realities of the inmost spiritual life, of which cultivated
preachers had been shy. He preached so that he made you feel without
doubt that it was the most real of worlds to him; he made you feel in
time, in spite of yourself, that it was a real world with which you too
had concern. He made you feel that he knew what he was speaking about;
that his reasonings and appeals, whether you agreed with them or not,
were not the language of that heated enthusiasm with which the world is
so familiar; that he was speaking words which were the result of
intellectual scrutiny, balancings, and decisions, as well as of moral
trials, of conflicts and suffering within; words of the utmost
soberness belonging to deeply gauged and earnestly formed purposes. The
effect of his sermons, as compared with the common run at the time, was
something like what happens when in a company you have a number of
people giving their views and answers about some question before them.
You have opinions given of various worth and expressed with varying
power, precision, and distinctness, some clever enough, some clumsy
enough, but all more or less imperfect and unattractive in tone, and
more or less falling short of their aim; and then, after it all, comes
a voice, very grave, very sweet, very sure and clear, under whose words
the discussion springs up at once to a higher level, and in which we
recognise at once a mind, face to face with realities, and able to
seize them and hold them fast.

The first notable feature in the external form of this preaching was
its terse unceremonious directness. Putting aside the verbiage and
dulled circumlocution and stiff hazy phraseology of pulpit etiquette
and dignity, it went straight to its point. There was no waste of time
about customary formalities. The preacher had something to say, and
with a kind of austere severity he proceeded to say it. This, for
instance, is the sort of way in which a sermon would begin:--

Hypocrisy is a serious word. We are accustomed to consider the
hypocrite as a hateful, despicable character, and an uncommon one.
How is it, then, that our Blessed Lord, when surrounded by an
innumerable multitude, began, _first of all_, to warn His disciples
against hypocrisy, as though they were in especial danger of
becoming like those base deceivers the Pharisees? Thus an
instructive subject is opened to our consideration, which I will
now pursue.--Vol. I. Serm. X.

The next thing was that, instead of rambling and straggling over a
large subject, each sermon seized a single thought, or definite view,
or real difficulty or objection, and kept closely and distinctly to it;
and at the same time treated it with a largeness and grasp and ease
which only a full command over much beyond it could give. Every sermon
had a purpose and an end which no one could misunderstand. Singularly
devoid of anything like excitement--calm, even, self-controlled--there
was something in the preacher's resolute concentrated way of getting
hold of a single defined object which reminded you of the rapid spring
or unerring swoop of some strong-limbed or swift-winged creature on its
quarry. Whatever you might think that he did with it, or even if it
seemed to escape from him, you could have no doubt what he sought to
do; there was no wavering, confused, uncertain bungling in that
powerful and steady hand. Another feature was the character of the
writer's English. We have learned to look upon Dr. Newman as one of the
half-dozen or so of the innumerable good writers of the time who have
fairly left their mark as masters on the language. Little, assuredly,
as the writer originally thought of such a result, the sermons have
proved a permanent gift to our literature, of the purest English, full
of spring, clearness, and force. A hasty reader would perhaps at first
only notice a very light, strong, easy touch, and might think, too,
that it was a negligent one. But it was not negligence; real negligence
means at bottom bad work, and bad work will not stand the trial of
time. There are two great styles--the self-conscious, like that of
Gibbon or Macaulay, where great success in expression is accompanied by
an unceasing and manifest vigilance that expression shall succeed, and
where you see at each step that there is or has been much care and work
in the mind, if not on the paper; and the unconscious, like that of
Pascal or Swift or Hume, where nothing suggests at the moment that the
writer is thinking of anything but his subject, and where the power of
being able to say just what he wants to say seems to come at the
writer's command, without effort, and without his troubling himself
more about it than about the way in which he holds his pen. But both
are equally the fruit of hard labour and honest persevering
self-correction; and it is soon found out whether the apparent
negligence comes of loose and slovenly habits of mind, or whether it
marks the confidence of one who has mastered his instrument, and can
forget himself and let himself go in using it. The free unconstrained
movement of Dr. Newman's style tells any one who knows what writing is
of a very keen and exact knowledge of the subtle and refined secrets of
language. With all that uncared-for play and simplicity, there was a
fulness, a richness, a curious delicate music, quite instinctive and
unsought for; above all, a precision and sureness of expression which
people soon began to find were not within the power of most of those
who tried to use language. Such English, graceful with the grace of
nerve, flexibility, and power, must always have attracted attention;
but it had also an ethical element which was almost inseparable from
its literary characteristics. Two things powerfully determined the
style of these sermons. One was the intense hold which the vast
realities of religion had gained on the writer's mind, and the perfect
truth with which his personality sank and faded away before their
overwhelming presence; the other was the strong instinctive shrinking,
which was one of the most remarkable and certain marks of the beginners
of the Oxford movement, from anything like personal display, any
conscious aiming at the ornamental and brilliant, any show of gifts or
courting of popular applause. Morbid and excessive or not, there can be
no doubt of the stern self-containing severity which made them turn
away, not only with fear, but with distaste and repugnance, from all
that implied distinction or seemed to lead to honour; and the control
of this austere spirit is visible, in language as well as matter, in
every page of Dr. Newman's sermons.

Indeed, form and matter are closely connected in the sermons, and
depend one on another, as they probably do in all work of a high order.
The matter makes and shapes the form with which it clothes itself. The
obvious thing which presents itself in reading them is that, from first
to last, they are a great systematic attempt to raise the whole level
of religious thought and religious life. They carry in them the
evidence of a great reaction and a scornful indignant rising up against
what were going about and were currently received as adequate ideas of
religion. The dryness and primness and meagreness of the common Church
preaching, correct as it was in its outlines of doctrine, and sober and
temperate in tone, struck cold on a mind which had caught sight, in the
New Testament, of the spirit and life of its words. The recoil was even
stronger from the shallowness and pretentiousness and self-display of
what was popularly accepted as earnest religion; morally the preacher
was revolted at its unctuous boasts and pitiful performance, and
intellectually by its narrowness and meanness of thought and its
thinness of colour in all its pictures of the spiritual life. From
first to last, in all manner of ways, the sermons are a protest, first
against coldness, but even still more against meanness, in religion.
With coldness they have no sympathy, yet coldness may be broad and
large and lofty in its aspects; but they have no tolerance for what
makes religion little and poor and superficial, for what contracts its
horizon and dwarfs its infinite greatness and vulgarises its mystery.
Open the sermons where we will, different readers will rise from them
with very different results; there will be among many the strongest and
most decisive disagreement; there may be impatience at dogmatic
harshness, indignation at what seems overstatement and injustice,
rejection of arguments and conclusions; but there will always be the
sense of an unfailing nobleness in the way in which the writer thinks
and speaks. It is not only that he is in earnest; it is that he has
something which really is worth being in earnest for. He placed the
heights of religion very high. If you have a religion like
Christianity--this is the pervading note--think of it, and have it,
worthily. People will differ from the preacher endlessly as to how this
is to be secured. But that they will learn this lesson from the
sermons, with a force with which few other writers have taught it, and
that this lesson has produced its effect in our time, there can be no
doubt. The only reason why it may not perhaps seem so striking to
readers of this day is that the sermons have done their work, and we do
not feel what they had to counteract, because they have succeeded in
great measure in counteracting it. It is not too much to say that they
have done more than anything else to revolutionise the whole idea of
preaching in the English Church. Mr. Robertson, in spite of himself,
was as much the pupil of their school as Mr. Liddon, though both are so
widely different from their master.

The theology of these sermons is a remarkable feature about them. It is
remarkable in this way, that, coming from a teacher like Dr. Newman, it
is nevertheless a theology which most religious readers, except the
Evangelicals and some of the more extreme Liberal thinkers, can either
accept heartily or be content with, as they would be content with St.
Augustine or Thomas a Kempis--content, not because they go along with
it always, but because it is large and untechnical, just and
well-measured in the proportions and relative importance of its parts.
People of very different opinions turn to them, as being on the whole
the fullest, deepest, most comprehensive approximation they can find to
representing Christianity in a practical form. Their theology is
nothing new; nor does it essentially change, though one may observe
differences, and some important ones, in the course of the volumes,
which embrace a period from 1825 to 1842. It is curious, indeed, to
observe how early the general character of the sermons was determined,
and how in the main it continues the same. Some of the first in point
of date are among the "Plain Sermons"; and though they may have been
subsequently retouched, yet there the keynote is plainly struck of that
severe and solemn minor which reigns throughout. Their theology is
throughout the accepted English theology of the Prayer-book and the
great Church divines--a theology fundamentally dogmatic and
sacramental, but jealously keeping the balance between obedience and
faith; learned, exact, and measured, but definite and decided. The
novelty was in the application of it, in the new life breathed into it,
in the profound and intense feelings called forth by its ideas and
objects, in the air of vastness and awe thrown about it, in the
unexpected connection of its creeds and mysteries with practical life,
in the new meaning given to the old and familiar, in the acceptance in
thorough earnest, and with keen purpose to call it into action, of what
had been guarded and laid by with dull reverence. Dr. Newman can hardly
be called in these sermons an innovator on the understood and
recognised standard of Anglican doctrine; he accepted its outlines as
Bishop Wilson, for instance, might have traced them. What he did was
first to call forth from it what it really meant, the awful heights and
depths of its current words and forms; and next, to put beside them
human character and its trials, not as they were conventionally
represented and written about, but as a piercing eye and sympathising
spirit saw them in the light of our nineteenth century, and in the
contradictory and complicated movements, the efforts and failures, of
real life. He took theology for granted, as a Christian preacher has a
right to do; he does not prove it, and only occasionally meets
difficulties, or explains; but, taking it for granted, he took it at
its word, in its relation to the world of actual experience.

Utterly dissatisfied with what he found current as religion, Dr. Newman
sought, without leaving the old paths, to put before people a strong
and energetic religion based, not on feeling or custom, but on reason
and conscience, and answering, in the vastness of its range, to the
mysteries of human nature, and in its power to man's capacities and
aims. The Liberal religion of that day, with its ideas of natural
theology or of a cold critical Unitarianism, was a very shallow one;
the Evangelical, trusting to excitement, had worn out its excitement
and had reached the stage when its formulas, poor ones at the best, had
become words without meaning. Such views might do in quiet, easy-going
times, if religion were an exercise at will of imagination or thought,
an indulgence, an ornament, an understanding, a fashion; not if it
corresponded to such a state of things as is implied in the Bible, or
to man's many-sided nature as it is shown in Shakspeare. The sermons
reflect with merciless force the popular, superficial, comfortable
thing called religion which the writer saw before him wherever he
looked, and from which his mind recoiled. Such sermons as those on the
"Self-wise Enquirer" and the "Religion of the Day," with its famous
passage about the age not being sufficiently "gloomy and fierce in its
religion," have the one-sided and unmeasured exaggeration which seems
inseparable from all strong expressions of conviction, and from all
deep and vehement protests against general faults; but, qualify and
limit them as we may, their pictures were not imaginary ones, and there
was, and is, but too much to justify them. From all this trifling with
religion the sermons called on men to look into themselves. They
appealed to conscience; and they appealed equally to reason and
thought, to recognise what conscience is, and to deal honestly with it.
They viewed religion as if projected on a background of natural and
moral mystery, and surrounded by it--an infinite scene, in which our
knowledge is like the Andes and Himalayas in comparison with the mass
of the earth, and in which conscience is our final guide and arbiter.
No one ever brought out so impressively the sense of the impenetrable
and tremendous vastness of that amid which man plays his part. In such
sermons as those on the "Intermediate State," the "Invisible World,"
the "Greatness and Littleness of Human Life," the "Individuality of the
Soul," the "Mysteriousness of our Present Being," we may see
exemplified the enormous irruption into the world of modern thought of
the unknown and the unknowable, as much as in the writers who, with far
different objects, set against it the clearness and certainty of what
we do know. But, beyond all, the sermons appealed to men to go back
into their own thoughts and feelings, and there challenged them; were
not the preacher's words the echoes and interpreting images of their
own deepest, possibly most perplexing and baffling, experience? From
first to last this was his great engine and power; from first to last
he boldly used it. He claimed to read their hearts; and people felt
that he did read them, their follies and their aspirations, the blended
and tangled web of earnestness and dishonesty, of wishes for the best
and truest, and acquiescence in makeshifts; understating what ordinary
preachers make much of, bringing into prominence what they pass by
without being able to see or to speak of it; keeping before his hearers
the risk of mismanaging their hearts, of "all kinds of unlawful
treatment of the soul." What a contrast to ordinary ways of speaking on
a familiar theological doctrine is this way of bringing it into
immediate relation to real feeling:--

It is easy to speak of human nature as corrupt in the general, to
admit it in the general, and then get quit of the subject; as if,
the doctrine being once admitted, there was nothing more to be done
with it. But, in truth, we can have no real apprehension of the
doctrine of our corruption till we view the structure of our minds,
part by part; and dwell upon and draw out the signs of our
weakness, inconsistency, and ungodliness, which are such as can
arise from nothing but some strange original defect in our original
nature.... We are in the dark about ourselves. When we act, we are
groping in the dark, and may meet with a fall any moment. Here and
there, perhaps, we see a little; or in our attempts to influence
and move our minds, we are making experiments (as it were) with
some delicate and dangerous instrument, which works we do not know
how, and may produce unexpected and disastrous effects. The
management of our hearts is quite above us. Under these
circumstances it becomes our comfort to look up to God. "Thou, God,
seest me." Such was the consolation of the forlorn Hagar in the
wilderness. He knoweth whereof we are made, and He alone can uphold
us. He sees with most appalling distinctness all our sins, all the
windings and recesses of evil within us; yet it is our only comfort
to know this, and to trust Him for help against ourselves.--Vol. I.
Serm. XIII.

The preacher contemplates human nature, not in the stiff formal
language in which it had become conventional with divines to set out
its shortcomings and dangers, but as a great novelist contemplates and
tries to describe it; taking in all its real contradictions and
anomalies, its subtle and delicate shades; fixing upon the things which
strike us in ourselves or our neighbours as ways of acting and marks of
character; following it through its wide and varying range, its
diversified and hidden folds and subtle self-involving realities of
feeling and shiftiness; touching it in all its complex sensibilities,
anticipating its dim consciousnesses, half-raising veils which hide
what it instinctively shrinks from, sending through it unexpected
thrills and shocks; large-hearted in indulgence, yet exacting; most
tender, yet most severe. And against all this real play of nature he
sets in their full force and depth the great ideas of God, of sin, and
of the Cross; and, appealing not to the intelligence of an aristocracy
of choice natures, but to the needs and troubles and longings which
make all men one, he claimed men's common sympathy for the heroic in
purpose and standard. He warned them against being fastidious, where
they should be hardy. He spoke in a way that all could understand of
brave ventures, of resolutely committing themselves to truth and duty.

The most practical of sermons, the most real and natural in their way
of dealing with life and conduct, they are also intensely dogmatic. The
writer's whole teaching presupposes, as we all know, a dogmatic
religion; and these sermons are perhaps the best vindication of it
which our time, disposed to think of dogmas with suspicion, has seen.
For they show, on a large scale and in actual working instances, how
what is noblest, most elevated, most poetical, most free and searching
in a thinker's way of regarding the wonderful scene of life, falls in
naturally, and without strain, with a great dogmatic system like that
of the Church. Such an example does not prove that system to be true,
but it proves that a dogmatic system, as such, is not the cast-iron,
arbitrary, artificial thing which it is often assumed to be. It is,
indeed, the most shallow of all commonplaces, intelligible in ordinary
minds, but unaccountable in those of high power and range, whether they
believe or not, that a dogmatic religion is of course a hard, dry,
narrow, unreal religion, without any affinities to poetry or the truth
of things, or to the deeper and more sacred and powerful of human
thoughts. If dogmas are not true, that is another matter; but it is the
fashion to imply that dogmas are worthless, mere things of the past,
without sense or substance or interest, because they are dogmas. As if
Dante was not dogmatic in form and essence; as if the grandest and
worthiest religious prose in the English language was not that of
Hooker, nourished up amid the subtleties, but also amid the vast
horizons and solemn heights, of scholastic divinity. A dogmatic system
is hard in hard hands, and shallow in shallow minds, and barren in dull
ones, and unreal and empty to preoccupied and unsympathising ones; we
dwarf and distort ideas that we do not like, and when we have put them
in our own shapes and in our own connection, we call them unmeaning or
impossible. Dogmas are but expedients, common to all great departments
of human thought, and felt in all to be necessary, for representing
what are believed as truths, for exhibiting their order and
consequences, for expressing the meaning of terms, and the relations of
thought. If they are wrong, they are, like everything else in the
world, open to be proved wrong; if they are inadequate, they are open
to correction; but it is idle to sneer at them for being what they must
be, if religious facts and truths are to be followed out by the
thoughts and expressed by the language of man. And what dogmas are in
unfriendly and incapable hands is no proof of what they may be when
they are approached as things instinct with truth and life; it is no
measure of the way in which they may be inextricably interwoven with
the most unquestionably living thought and feeling, as in these
sermons. Jealous, too, as the preacher is for Church doctrines as the
springs of Christian life, no writer of our time perhaps has so
emphatically and impressively recalled the narrow limits within which
human language can represent Divine realities. No one that we know of
shows that he has before his mind with such intense force and
distinctness the idea of God; and in proportion as a mind takes in and
submits itself to the impression of that awful vision, the gulf widens
between all possible human words and that which they attempt to

When we have deduced what we deduce by our reason from the study of
visible nature, and then read what we read in His inspired word,
and find the two apparently discordant, _this_ is the feeling I
think we ought to have on our minds;--not an impatience to do what
is beyond our powers, to weigh evidence, sum up, balance, decide,
reconcile, to arbitrate between the two voices of God,--but a sense
of the utter nothingness of worms such as we are; of our plain and
absolute incapacity to contemplate things _as they really are_; a
perception of our emptiness before the great Vision of God; of our
"comeliness being turned into corruption, and our retaining no
strength"; a conviction that what is put before us, whether in
nature or in grace, is but an intimation, useful for particular
purposes, useful for practice, useful in its department, "until the
day break and the shadows flee away"; useful in such a way that
both the one and the other representation may at once be used, as
two languages, as two separate approximations towards the Awful
Unknown Truth, such as will not mislead us in their respective
provinces.--Vol. II. Serm. XVIII.

"I cannot persuade myself," he says, commenting on a mysterious
text of Scripture, "thus to dismiss so solemn a passage" (i.e. by
saying that it is "all figurative"). "It seems a presumption to say
of dim notices about the unseen world, 'they only mean this or
that,' as if one had ascended into the third heaven, or had stood
before the throne of God. No; I see herein a deep mystery, a hidden
truth, which I cannot handle or define, shining 'as jewels at the
bottom of the great deep,' darkly and tremulously, yet really
there. And for this very reason, while it is neither pious nor
thankful to explain away the words which convey it, while it is a
duty to use them, not less a duty is it to use them humbly,
diffidently, and teachably, with the thought of God before us, and
of our own nothingness."--Vol. III. Serm. XXV.

There are two great requisites for treating properly the momentous
questions and issues which have been brought before our generation. The
first is accuracy--accuracy of facts, of terms, of reasoning; plain
close dealing with questions in their real and actual conditions;
clear, simple, honest, measured statements about things as we find
them. The other is elevation, breadth, range of thought; a due sense of
what these questions mean and involve; a power of looking at things
from a height; a sufficient taking into account of possibilities, of
our ignorance, of the real proportions of things. We have plenty of the
first; we are for the most part lamentably deficient in the second. And
of this, these sermons are, to those who have studied them, almost
unequalled examples. Many people, no doubt, would rise from their
perusal profoundly disagreeing with their teaching; but no one, it
seems to us, could rise from them--with their strong effortless
freedom, their lofty purpose, their generous standard, their deep and
governing appreciation of divine things, their thoroughness, their
unselfishness, their purity, their austere yet piercing sympathy--and
not feel his whole ways of thinking about religion permanently enlarged
and raised. He will feel that he has been with one who "told him what
he knew about himself and what he did not know; has read to him his
wants or feelings, and comforted him by the very reading; has made him
feel that there was a higher life than this life, and a brighter world
than we can see; has encouraged him, or sobered him, or opened a way to
the inquiring, or soothed the perplexed." They show a man who saw very
deeply into the thought of his time, and who, if he partly recoiled
from it and put it back, at least equally shared it. Dr. Newman has
been accused of being out of sympathy with his age, and of disparaging
it. In reality, no one has proved himself more keenly sensitive to its
greatness and its wonders; only he believed that he saw something
greater still. We are not of those who can accept the solution which he
has accepted of the great problems which haunt our society; but he saw
better than most men what those problems demand, and the variety of
their often conflicting conditions. Other men, perhaps, have succeeded
better in what they aimed at; but no one has attempted more, with
powers and disinterestedness which justified him in attempting it. The
movement which he led, and of which these sermons are the
characteristic monument, is said to be a failure; but there are
failures, and even mistakes, which are worth many successes of other
sorts, and which are more fruitful and permanent in their effects.



_Guardian_, 21st May 1879.

It is not wonderful that people should be impressed by the vicissitudes
and surprises and dramatic completeness of Cardinal Newman's career.
It is not wonderful that he should be impressed by this himself. That
he who left us in despair and indignation in 1845 should have passed
through a course of things which has made him, Roman Catholic as he
is, a man of whom Englishmen are so proud in 1879, is even more
extraordinary than that the former Fellow of Oriel should now be
surrounded with the pomp and state of a Cardinal. There is only one
other career in our time which, with the greatest possible contrasts in
other points, suggests in its strangeness and antecedent improbabilities
something of a parallel. It is the train of events which has made
"Disraeli the Younger" the most powerful Minister whom England has seen
in recent years. But Lord Beaconsfield has aimed at what he has
attained to, and has fought his way to it through the chances and
struggles of a stirring public life. Cardinal Newman's life has been
from first to last the life of the student and recluse. He has lived in
the shade. He has sought nothing for himself. He has shrunk from the
thought of advancement. The steps to the high places of the world have
not offered themselves to him, and he has been content to be let alone.
Early in his course his rare gifts of mind, his force of character, his
power over hearts and sympathies, made him for a while a prominent
person. Then came a series of events which seemed to throw him out of
harmony with the great mass of his countrymen. He appeared to be, if not
forgotten, yet not thought of, except by a small number of friends--old
friends who had known him too well and too closely ever to forget, and
new friends gathered round him by the later circumstances of his life
and work. People spoke of him as a man who had made a great mistake and
failed; who had thrown up influence and usefulness here, and had not
found it there; too subtle, too imaginative for England, too
independent for Rome. He seemed to have so sunk out of interest and
account that off-hand critics, in the easy gaiety of their heart, might
take liberties with his name.

Then came the first surprise. The _Apologia_ was read with the keenest
interest by those who most differed from the writer's practical
conclusions; twenty years had elapsed since he had taken the unpopular
step which seemed to condemn him to obscurity; and now he emerged from
it, challenging not in vain the sympathy of his countrymen. They
awoke, it may be said--at least the younger generation of them--to
what he really was; the old jars and bitternesses had passed out of
remembrance; they only felt that they had one among them who could
write--for few of them ever heard his wonderful voice--in a way which
made English hearts respond quickly and warmly. And the strange thing
was that the professed, the persistent denouncer of Liberalism, was
welcomed back to his rightful place among Englishmen by none more
warmly than by many Liberals. Still, though his name was growing more
familiar year by year, the world did not see much more of him. The
head of a religious company, of an educational institution at
Birmingham, he lived in unpretending and quiet simplicity, occupied
with the daily business of his house, with his books, with his
correspondence, with finishing off his many literary and theological
undertakings. Except in some chance reference in a book or newspaper
which implied how considerable a person the world thought him, he was
not heard of. People asked about him, but there was nothing to tell.
Then at last, neglected by Pius IX., he was remembered by Leo XIII.
The Pope offered him the Cardinalship, he said, because he thought it
would be "grateful to the Catholics of England, and to England
itself." And he was not mistaken. Probably there is not a single thing
that the Pope could do which would be so heartily welcomed.

After breaking with England and all things English in wrath and sorrow,
nearly thirty-five years ago, after a long life of modest retirement,
unmarked by any public honours, at length before he dies Dr. Newman is
recognised by Protestant England as one of its greatest men. It watches
with interest his journey to Rome, his proceedings at Rome. In a crowd
of new Cardinals--men of eminence in their own communion--he is the
only one about whom Englishmen know or care anything. His words, when
he speaks, pass _verbatim_ along the telegraph wires, like the words of
the men who sway the world. We read of the quiet Oxford scholar's arms
emblazoned on vestment and furniture as those of a Prince of the
Church, and of his motto--_Cor ad cor loquitur_. In that motto is the
secret of all that he is to his countrymen. For that skill of which he
is such a master, in the use of his and their "sweet mother tongue," is
something much more than literary accomplishment and power. It means
that he has the key to what is deepest in their nature and most
characteristic in them of feeling and conviction--to what is deeper
than opinions and theories and party divisions; to what in their most
solemn moments they most value and most believe in.

His profound sympathy with the religiousness which still, with all the
variations and all the immense shortcomings of English religion, marks
England above all cultivated Christian nations, is really the bond
between him and his countrymen, who yet for the most part think so
differently from him, both about the speculative grounds and many of
the practical details of religion. But it was natural for him, on an
occasion like this, reviewing the past and connecting it with the
present, to dwell on these differences. He repeated once more, and
made it the keynote of his address, his old protest against
"Liberalism in religion," the "doctrine that there is no positive
truth in religion, but one creed is as good as another." He lamented
the decay of the power of authority, the disappearance of religion
from the sphere of political influence, from education, from
legislation. He deplored the increasing impossibility of getting men
to work together on a common religious basis. He pointed out the
increasing seriousness and earnestness of the attempts to "supersede,
to block out religion," by an imposing and high morality, claiming to
dispense with it.

He dwelt on the mischief and dangers; he expressed, as any Christian
would, his fearlessness and faith in spite of them; but do we gather,
even from such a speaker, and on such an occasion, anything of the
remedy? The principle of authority is shaken, he tells us; what can he
suggest to restore it? He under-estimates, probably, the part which
authority plays, implicitly yet very really, in English popular
religion, much more in English Church religion; and authority, even in
Rome, is not everything, and does not reach to every subject. But
authority in our days can be nothing without real confidence in it;
and where confidence in authority has been lost, it is idle to attempt
to restore it by telling men that authority is a good and necessary
thing. It must be won back, not simply claimed. It must be regained,
when forfeited, by the means by which it was originally gained. And
the strange phenomenon was obviously present to his clear and candid
mind, though he treated it as one which is disappearing, and must at
length pass away, that precisely here in England, where the only
religious authority he recognises has been thrown off, the hold of
religion on public interest is most effective and most obstinately

What is the history of this? What is the explanation of it? Why is it
that where "authority," as he understands it, has been longest
paramount and undisputed, the public place and public force of
religion have most disappeared; and that a "dozen men taken at random
in the streets" of London find it easier, with all their various
sects, to work together on a religious basis than a dozen men taken at
random from the streets of Catholic Paris or Rome? Indeed, the public
feeling towards himself, expressed in so many ways in the last few
weeks, might suggest a question not undeserving of his thoughts. The
mass of Englishmen are notoriously anti-Popish and anti-Roman. Their
antipathies on this subject are profound, and not always reasonable.
They certainly do not here halt between two opinions, or think that
one creed is as good as another. What is it which has made so many of
them, still retaining all their intense dislike to the system which
Cardinal Newman has accepted, yet welcome so heartily his honours in
it, notwithstanding that he has passed from England to Rome, and that
he owes so much of what he is to England? Is it that they think it
does not matter what a man believes, and whether a man turns Papist?
Or is it not that, in spite of all that would repel and estrange, in
spite of the oppositions of argument and the inconsistencies of
speculation, they can afford to recognise in him, as in a high
example, what they most sincerely believe in and most deeply prize,
and can pay him the tribute of their gratitude and honour, even when
unconvinced by his controversial reasonings, and unsatisfied by the
theories which he has proposed to explain the perplexing and
refractory anomalies of Church history? Is it not that with history,
inexorable and unalterable behind them, condemning and justifying,
supporting and warning all sides in turn, thoughtful men feel how much
easier it is to point out and deplore our disasters than to see a way
now to set them right? Is it not also that there are in the Christian
Church bonds of affinity, subtler, more real and more prevailing than
even the fatal legacies of the great schisms? Is it not that the
sympathies which unite the author of the _Parochial Sermons_ and the
interpreter of St. Athanasius with the disciples of Andrewes, and Ken,
and Bull, of Butler and Wilson, are as strong and natural as the
barriers which outwardly keep them asunder are to human eyes
hopelessly insurmountable?



_Guardian_, 13th August 1890.

The long life is closed. And men, according to their knowledge and
intelligence, turn to seek for some governing idea or aspect of things,
by which to interpret the movements and changes of a course which, in
spite of its great changes, is felt at bottom to have been a uniform
and consistent one. For it seems that, at starting, he is at once
intolerant, even to harshness, to the Roman Church, and tolerant,
though not sympathetic, to the English; then the parts are reversed,
and he is intolerant to the English and tolerant to the Roman; and then
at last, when he finally anchored in the Roman Church, he is seen
as--not tolerant, for that would involve dogmatic points on which he
was most jealous, but--sympathetic in all that was of interest to
England, and ready to recognise what was good and high in the English

Is not the ultimate key to Newman's history his keen and profound sense
of the life, society, and principles of action presented in the New
Testament? To this New Testament life he saw, opposed and in contrast,
the ways and assumptions of English life, religious as well as secular.
He saw that the organisation of society had been carried, and was still
being carried, to great and wonderful perfection; only it was the
perfection of a society and way of life adapted to the present world,
and having its ends here; only it was as different as anything can be
from the picture which the writers of the New Testament, consciously
and unconsciously, give of themselves and their friends. Here was a
Church, a religion, a "Christian nation," professing to be identical in
spirit and rules of faith and conduct with the Church and religion of
the Gospels and Epistles; and what was the identity, beyond certain
phrases and conventional suppositions? He could not see a trace in
English society of that simple and severe hold of the unseen and the
future which is the colour and breath, as well as the outward form, of
the New Testament life. Nothing could be more perfect, nothing grander
and nobler, than all the current arrangements for this life; its
justice and order and increasing gentleness, its widening sympathies
between men; but it was all for the perfection and improvement of this
life; it would all go on, if what we experience now was our only scene
and destiny. This perpetual antithesis haunted him, when he knew it, or
when he did not. Against it the Church ought to be the perpetual
protest, and the fearless challenge, as it was in the days of the New
Testament. But the English Church had drunk in, he held, too deeply the
temper, ideas, and laws of an ambitious and advancing civilisation; so
much so as to be unfaithful to its special charge and mission. The
prophet had ceased to rebuke, warn, and suffer; he had thrown in his
lot with those who had ceased to be cruel and inhuman, but who thought
only of making their dwelling-place as secure and happy as they could.
The Church had become respectable, comfortable, sensible, temperate,
liberal; jealous about the forms of its creeds, equally jealous of its
secular rights, interested in the discussion of subordinate questions,
and becoming more and more tolerant of differences; ready for works of
benevolence and large charity, in sympathy with the agricultural poor,
open-handed in its gifts; a willing fellow-worker with society in
kindly deeds, and its accomplice in secularity. All this was admirable,
but it was not the life of the New Testament, and it was _that_ which
filled his thoughts. The English Church had exchanged religion for
civilisation, the first century for the nineteenth, the New Testament
as it is written, for a counterfeit of it interpreted by Paley or Mr.
Simeon; and it seemed to have betrayed its trust.

Form after form was tried by him, the Christianity of Evangelicalism,
the Christianity of Whately, the Christianity of Hawkins, the
Christianity of Keble and Pusey; it was all very well, but it was not
the Christianity of the New Testament and of the first ages. He wrote
the _Church of the Fathers_ to show they were not merely evidences of
religion, but really living men; that they could and did live as they
taught, and what was there like the New Testament or even the first
ages now? Alas! there was nothing completely like them; but of all
unlike things, the Church of England with its "smug parsons," and
pony-carriages for their wives and daughters, seemed to him the most
unlike: more unlike than the great unreformed Roman Church, with its
strange, unscriptural doctrines and its undeniable crimes, and its
alliance, wherever it could, with the world. But at least the Roman
Church had not only preserved, but maintained at full strength through
the centuries to our day two things of which the New Testament was
full, and which are characteristic of it--devotion and self-sacrifice.
The crowds at a pilgrimage, a shrine, or a "pardon" were much more like
the multitudes who followed our Lord about the hills of Galilee--like
them probably in that imperfect faith which we call superstition--than
anything that could be seen in the English Church, even if the
Salvation Army were one of its instruments. And the spirit which
governed the Roman Church had prevailed on men to make the sacrifice of
celibacy a matter of course, as a condition of ministering in a regular
and systematic way not only to the souls, but to the bodies of men, not
only for the Priesthood, but for educational Brotherhoods, and Sisters
of the poor and of hospitals. Devotion and sacrifice, prayer and
self-denying charity, in one word sanctity, are at once on the surface
of the New Testament and interwoven with all its substance. He recoiled
from a representation of the religion of the New Testament which to his
eye was without them. He turned to where, in spite of every other
disadvantage, he thought he found them. In S. Filippo Neri he could
find a link between the New Testament and progressive civilisation. He
could find no S. Filippo--so modern and yet so Scriptural--when he
sought at home.

His mind, naturally alive to all greatness, had early been impressed
with the greatness of the Church of Rome. But in his early days it was
the greatness of Anti-Christ. Then came the change, and his sense of
greatness was satisfied by the commanding and undoubting attitude of
the Roman system, by the completeness of its theory, by the sweep of
its claims and its rule, by the even march of its vast administration.
It could not and it did not escape him, that the Roman Church, with all
the good things which it had, was, as a whole, as unlike the Church of
the New Testament and of the first ages as the English. He recognised
it frankly, and built up a great theory to account for the fact,
incorporating and modernising great portions of the received Roman
explanations of the fact. But what won his heart and his enthusiasm was
one thing; what justified itself to his intellect was another. And it
was the reproduction, partial, as it might be, yet real and
characteristic, in the Roman Church of the life and ways of the New
Testament, which was the irresistible attraction that tore him from the
associations and the affections of half a lifetime.

The final break with the English Church was with much heat and
bitterness; and both sides knew too much each of the other to warrant
the language used on each side. The English Church had received too
much loyal and invaluable service from him in teaching and example to
have insulted him, as many of its chief authorities did, with the
charges of dishonesty and bad faith; his persecutors forgot that a
little effort on his part might, if he had been what they called him,
and had really been a traitor, have formed a large and compact party,
whose secession might have caused fatal damage. And he, too, knew too
much of the better side of English religious life to justify the fierce
invective and sarcasm with which he assailed for a time the English
Church as a mere system of comfortable and self-deceiving worldliness.

But as time went over him in his new position two things made
themselves felt. One was, that though there was a New Testament life,
lived in the Roman Church with conspicuous truth and reality, yet the
Roman Church, like the English, was administered and governed by
men--men with passions and faults, men of mixed characters--who had,
like their English contemporaries and rivals, ends and rules of action
not exactly like those of the New Testament. The Roman Church had to
accept, as much as the English, the modern conditions of social and
political life, however different in outward look from those of the
Sermon on the Mount. The other was the increasing sense that the
civilisation of the West was as a whole, and notwithstanding grievous
drawbacks, part of God's providential government, a noble and
beneficent thing, ministering graciously to man's peace and order,
which Christians ought to recognise as a blessing of their times such
as their fathers had not, for which they ought to be thankful, and
which, if they were wise, they would put to what, in his phrase, was an
"Apostolical" use. In one of the angelical hymns in the _Dream of
Gerontius_, he dwells on the Divine goodness which led men to found "a
household and a fatherland, a city and a state" with an earnestness of
sympathy, recalling the enumeration of the achievements of human
thought and hand, and the arts of civil and social life--[Greek: kai
phthegma kai aenemoen phronaema kai astynomous orgas]--dwelt on so
fondly by Aeschylus and Sophocles.

The force with which these two things made themselves felt as age came
on--the disappointments attending his service to the Church, and the
grandeur of the physical and social order of the world and its Divine
sanction in spite of all that is evil and all that is so shortlived in
it--produced a softening in his ways of thought and speech. Never for a
moment did his loyalty and obedience to his Church, even when most
tried, waver and falter. The thing is inconceivable to any one who ever
knew him, and the mere suggestion would be enough to make him blaze
forth in all his old fierceness and power. But perfectly satisfied of
his position, and with his duties clearly defined, he could allow large
and increasing play, in the leisure of advancing age, to his natural
sympathies, and to the effect of the wonderful spectacle of the world
around him. He was, after all, an Englishman; and with all his
quickness to detect and denounce what was selfish and poor in English
ideas and action, and with all the strength of his deep antipathies,
his chief interests were for things English--English literature,
English social life, English politics, English religion. He liked to
identify himself, as far as it was possible, with things English, even
with things that belonged to his own first days. He republished his
Oxford sermons and treatises. He prized his honorary fellowship at
Trinity; he enjoyed his visit to Oxford, and the welcome which he met
there. He discerned how much the English Church counted for in the
fight going on in England for the faith in Christ. There was in all
that he said and did a gentleness, a forbearance, a kindly
friendliness, a warm recognition of the honour paid him by his
countrymen, ever since the _Apologia_ had broken down the prejudices
which had prevented Englishmen from doing him justice. As with his
chief antagonist at Oxford, Dr. Hawkins, advancing years brought with
them increasing gentleness, and generosity, and courtesy. But through
all this there was perceptible to those who watched a pathetic yearning
for something which was not to be had: a sense, resigned--for so it was
ordered--but deep and piercing, how far, not some of us, but all of us,
are from the life of the New Testament: how much there is for religion
to do, and how little there seems to be to do it.



_Guardian_, 20th August 1890.

Every one feels what is meant when we speak of a person's ways being
"natural," in contrast to being artificial, or overstrained, or
studied, or affected. But it is easier to feel what is meant than to
explain and define it. We sometimes speak as if it were a mere quality
of manner; as if it belonged to the outside show of things, and denoted
the atmosphere, clear and transparent, through which they are viewed.
It corresponds to what is lucid in talk and style, and what ethically
is straightforward and unpretentious. But it is something much more
than a mere surface quality. When it is real and part of the whole
character, and not put on from time to time for effect, it reaches a
long way down to what is deepest and most significant in a man's moral
nature. It is connected with the sense of truth, with honest
self-judgment, with habits of self-discipline, with the repression of
vanity, pride, egotism. It has no doubt to do with good taste and good
manners, but it has as much to do with good morals--with the resolute
habit of veracity with oneself--with the obstinate preference for
reality over show, however tempting--with the wholesome power of being
able to think little about oneself.

It is common to speak of the naturalness and ease of Cardinal Newman's
style in writing. It is, of course, the first thing that attracts
notice when we open one of his books; and there are people who think it
bald and thin and dry. They look out for longer words, and grander
phrases, and more involved constructions, and neater epigrams. They
expect a great theme to be treated with more pomp and majesty, and they
are disappointed. But the majority of English readers seem to be agreed
in recognising the beauty and transparent flow of his language, which
matches the best French writing in rendering with sureness and without
effort the thought of the writer. But what is more interesting than
even the formation of such a style--a work, we may be sure, not
accomplished without much labour--is the man behind the style. For the
man and the style are one in this perfect naturalness and ease. Any one
who has watched at all carefully the Cardinal's career, whether in old
days or later, must have been struck with this feature of his
character, his naturalness, the freshness and freedom with which he
addressed a friend or expressed an opinion, the absence of all
mannerism and formality; and, where he had to keep his dignity, both
his loyal obedience to the authority which enjoined it and the
half-amused, half-bored impatience that he should be the person round
whom all these grand doings centred. It made the greatest difference in
his friendships whether his friends met him on equal terms, or whether
they brought with them too great conventional deference or solemnity of
manner. "So and so is a very good fellow, but he is not a man to talk
to in your shirt sleeves," was his phrase about an over-logical and
over-literal friend. Quite aware of what he was to his friends and to
the things with which he was connected, and ready with a certain
quickness of temper which marked him in old days to resent anything
unbecoming done to his cause or those connected with it, he would not
allow any homage to be paid to himself. He was by no means disposed to
allow liberties to be taken or to put up with impertinence; for all
that bordered on the unreal, for all that was pompous, conceited,
affected, he had little patience; but almost beyond all these was his
disgust at being made the object of foolish admiration. He protested
with whimsical fierceness against being made a hero or a sage; he was
what he was, he said, and nothing more; and he was inclined to be rude
when people tried to force him into an eminence which he refused. With
his profound sense of the incomplete and the ridiculous in this world,
and with a humour in which the grotesque and the pathetic sides of life
were together recognised at every moment, he never hesitated to admit
his own mistakes--his "floors" as he called them. All this ease and
frankness with those whom he trusted, which was one of the lessons
which he learnt from Hurrell Froude, an intercourse which implied a
good deal of give and take--all this satisfied his love of freedom, his
sense of the real. It was his delight to give himself free play with
those whom he could trust; to feel that he could talk with "open
heart," understood without explaining, appealing for a response which
would not fail, though it was not heard. He could be stiff enough with
those who he thought were acting a part, or pretending to more than
they could perform. But he believed--what was not very easy to believe
beforehand--that he could win the sympathy of his countrymen, though
not their agreement with him; and so, with characteristic naturalness
and freshness, he wrote the _Apologia_.



_Guardian_, 27th Nov. 1889.

Lord Blachford, whose death was announced last week, belonged to a
generation of Oxford men of whom few now survive, and who, of very
different characters and with very different careers and histories, had
more in common than any set of contemporaries at Oxford since their
time. Speaking roughly, they were almost the last product of the old
training at public school and at college, before the new reforms set
in; of a training confessedly imperfect and in some ways deplorably
defective, but with considerable elements in it of strength and
manliness, with keen instincts of contempt for all that savoured of
affectation and hollowness, and with a sort of largeness and freedom
about it, both in its outlook and its discipline, which suited vigorous
and self-reliant natures in an exciting time, when debate ran high and
the gravest issues seemed to be presenting themselves to English
society. The reformed system which has taken its place at Oxford
criticises, not without some justice, the limitations of the older one;
the narrow range of its interests, the few books which men read, and
the minuteness with which they were "got up." But if these men did not
learn all that a University ought to teach its students, they at least
learned two things. They learned to work hard, and they learned to make
full use of what they knew. They framed an ideal of practical life,
which was very variously acted upon, but which at any rate aimed at
breadth of grasp and generosity of purpose, and at being thorough. This
knot of men, who lived a good deal together, were recognised at the
time as young men of much promise, and they looked forward to life with
eagerness and high aspiration. They have fulfilled their promise; their
names are mixed up with all the recent history of England; they have
filled its great places and governed its policy during a large part of
the Queen's long reign. Their names are now for the most part things of
the past--Sidney Herbert, Lord Canning, Lord Dalhousie, Lord Elgin,
Lord Cardwell, the Wilberforces, Mr. Hope Scott, Archbishop Tait. But
they still have their representatives among us--Mr. Gladstone, Lord
Selborne, Lord Sherbrooke, Sir Thomas Acland, Cardinal Manning. It is
not often that a University generation or two can produce such a list
of names of statesmen and rulers; and the list might easily be

To this generation Frederic Rogers belonged, not the least
distinguished among his contemporaries; and he was early brought under
an influence likely to stimulate in a high degree whatever powers a man
possessed, and to impress a strong character with elevated and enduring
ideas of life and duty. Mr. Newman, with Mr. Hurrell Froude and Mr.
Robert Wilberforce, had recently been appointed tutors of their college
by Dr. Copleston. They were in the first eagerness of their enthusiasm
to do great things with the college, and the story goes that Mr.
Newman, on the look-out for promising pupils, wrote to an Eton friend,
asking him to recommend some good Eton men for admission at Oriel.
Frederic Rogers, so the story goes, was one of those mentioned; at any
rate, he entered at Oriel, and became acquainted with Mr. Newman as a
tutor, and the admiration and attachment of the undergraduate ripened
into the most unreserved and affectionate friendship of the grown
man--a friendship which has lasted through all storms and difficulties,
and through strong differences of opinion, till death only has ended
it. From Mr. Newman his pupil caught that earnest devotion to the cause
of the Church which was supreme with him through life. He entered
heartily into Mr. Newman's purpose to lift the level of the English
Church and its clergy. While Mr. Newman at Oxford was fighting the
battle of the English Church, there was no one who was a closer friend
than Rogers, no one in whom Mr. Newman had such trust, none whose
judgment he so valued, no one in whose companionship he so delighted;
and the master's friendship was returned by the disciple with a noble
and tender, and yet manly honesty. There came, as we know, times which
strained even that friendship; when the disciple, just at the moment
when the master most needed and longed for sympathy and counsel, had to
choose between his duty to his Church and the claims and ties of
friendship. He could not follow in the course which his master and
friend had found inevitable; and that deepest and most delightful
friendship had to be given up. But it was given up, not indeed without
great suffering on both sides, but without bitterness or unworthy
thoughts. The friend had seen too closely the greatness and purity of
his master's character to fail in tenderness and loyalty, even when he
thought his master going most wrong. He recognised that the error,
deplorable as he thought it, was the mistake of a lofty and unselfish
soul; and in the height of the popular outcry against him he came
forward, with a distant and touching reverence, to take his old
friend's part and rebuke the clamour. And at length the time came when
disagreements were left long behind and each person had finally taken
his recognised place; and then the old ties were knit up again. It
could not be the former friendship of every day and of absolute and
unreserved confidence. But it was the old friendship of affection and
respect renewed, and pleasure in the interchange of thoughts. It was a
friendship of the antique type, more common, perhaps, even in the last
century than with us, but enriched with Christian hopes and Christian

Lord Blachford, in spite of his brilliant Oxford reputation, and though
he was a singularly vigorous writer, with wide interests and very
independent thought, has left nothing behind him in the way of
literature. This was partly because he very early became a man of
affairs; partly that his health interfered with habits of study. It
used to be told at Oxford that when he was working for his Double First
he could scarcely use his eyes, and had to learn much of his work by
being read to. The result was that he was not a great reader; and a man
ought to be a reader who is to be a writer. But, besides this, there
was a strongly marked feature in his character which told in the same
direction. There was a curious modesty about him which formed a
contrast with other points; with a readiness and even eagerness to put
forth and develop his thoughts on matters that interested him, with a
perfect consciousness of his remarkable powers of statement and
argument, with a constitutional impetuosity blended with caution which
showed itself when anything appealed to his deeper feelings or called
for his help; yet with all these impelling elements, his instinct was
always to shrink from putting himself forward, except when it was a
matter of duty. He accepted recognition when it came, but he never
claimed it. And this reserve, which marked his social life, kept him
back from saying in a permanent form much that he had to say, and that
was really worth saying. Like many of the distinguished men of his day,
he was occasionally a journalist. We have been reminded by the _Times_
that he at one time wrote for that paper. And he was one of the men to
whose confidence and hope in the English Church the _Guardian_ owes its

His life was the uneventful one of a diligent and laborious public
servant, and then of a landlord keenly alive to the responsibilities of
his position. He passed through various subordinate public employments,
and finally succeeded Mr. Herman Merivale as permanent Under-Secretary
for the Colonies. It is a great post, but one of which the work is done
for the most part out of sight. Colonial Secretaries in Parliament come
and go, and have the credit, often quite justly, of this or that
policy. But the public know little of the permanent official who keeps
the traditions and experience of the department, whose judgment is
always an element, often a preponderating element, in eventful
decisions, and whose pen drafts the despatches which go forth in the
name of the Government. Sir Frederic Rogers, as he became in time, had
to deal with some of the most serious colonial questions which arose
and were settled while he was at the Colonial Office. He took great
pains, among other things, to remove, or at least diminish, the
difficulties which beset the _status_ of the Colonial Church and
clergy, and to put its relations to the Church at home on a just and
reasonable footing. There is a general agreement as to the industry and
conspicuous ability with which his part of the work was done. Mr.
Gladstone set an admirable example in recognising in an unexpected way
faithful but unnoticed services, and at the same time paid a merited
honour to the permanent staff of the public offices, when he named Sir
Frederic Rogers for a peerage.

Lord Blachford, for so he became on his retirement from the Colonial
Office, cannot be said to have quitted entirely public life, as he
always, while his strength lasted, acknowledged public claims on his
time and industry. He took his part in two or three laborious
Commissions, doing the same kind of valuable yet unseen work which he
had done in office, guarding against blunders, or retrieving them,
giving direction and purpose to inquiries, suggesting expedients. But
his main employment was now at his own home. He came late in life to
the position of a landed proprietor, and he at once set before himself
as his object the endeavour to make his estate as perfect as it could
be made--perfect in the way in which a naturally beautiful country and
his own good taste invited him to make it, but beyond all, as perfect
as might be, viewed as the dwelling-place of his tenants and the
labouring poor. A keen and admiring student of political economy, his
sympathies were always with the poor. He was always ready to challenge
assumptions, such as are often loosely made for the convenience of the
well-to-do. The solicitude which always pursued him was the thought of
his cottages, and it was not satisfied till the last had been put in
good order. The same spirit prompted him to allow labourers who could
manage the undertaking to rent pasture for a few cows; and the
experiment, he thought, had succeeded. The idea of justice and the
general welfare had too strong a hold on his mind to allow him to be
sentimental in dealing with the difficult questions connected with
land. But if his labourers found him thoughtful of their comfort his
farmers found him a good landlord--strict where he met with dishonesty
and carelessness, but open-minded and reasonable in understanding their
points of view, and frank, equitable, and liberal in meeting their
wishes. Disclaiming all experience of country matters, and not minding
if he fell into some mistakes, he made his care of his estate a model
of the way in which a good man should discharge his duties to the land.

His was one of those natures which have the gift of inspiring
confidence in all who come near him; all who had to do with him felt
that they could absolutely trust him. The quality which was at the
bottom of his character as a man was his unswerving truthfulness; but
upon this was built up a singularly varied combination of elements not
often brought together, and seldom in such vigour and activity. Keen,
rapid, penetrating, he was quick in detecting anything that rung hollow
in language or feeling; and he did not care to conceal his dislike and
contempt. But no one threw himself with more genuine sympathy into the
real interests of other people. No matter what it was, ethical or
political theory, the course of a controversy, the arrangement of a
trust-deed, the oddities of a character, the marvels of natural
science, he was always ready to go with his companion as far as he
chose to go, and to take as much trouble as if the question started had
been his own. Where his sense of truth was not wounded he was most
considerate and indulgent; he seemed to keep through life his
schoolboy's amused tolerance for mischief that was not vicious. No one
entered more heartily into the absurdities of a grotesque situation; of
no one could his friends be so sure that he would miss no point of a
good story; and no one took in at once more completely or with deeper
feeling the full significance of some dangerous incident in public
affairs, or discerned more clearly the real drift of confused and
ambiguous tendencies. He was conscious of the power of his intellect,
and he liked to bring it to bear on what was before him; he liked to
probe things to the bottom, and see how far his companion in
conversation was able to go; but ready as he was with either argument
or banter he never, unless provoked, forced the proof of his power on
others. For others, indeed, of all classes and characters, so that they
were true, he had nothing but kindness, geniality, forbearance, the
ready willingness to meet them on equal terms. Those who had the
privilege of his friendship remember how they were kept up in their
standard and measure of duty by the consciousness of his opinion, his
judgment, his eagerness to feel with them, his fearless, though it
might be reluctant, expression of disagreement It was, indeed, that
very marked yet most harmonious combination of severity and tenderness
which gave such interest to his character. A strong love of justice, a
deep and unselfish and affectionate gentleness and patience, are
happily qualities not too rare. But to have known one at once so
severely just and so indulgently tender and affectionate makes a mark
in a man's life which he forgets at his peril.


_Printed by_ R. & R. Clark, Limited, _Edinburgh_.

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