Francis J. McGrath and Gerard Tracey (eds), The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, Vol. 9: Littlemore and the Parting of Friends: May 1842–October 1843
pg 6422.6. From: James Thomas O'Brien, A Charge delivered to the Clergy of the United Dioceses of Ossory,Ferns, and Leighlin, at his Primary Visitation in September 1842.
My Reverend Brethren,
'. . . While many thinking and honest minds were vainly perplexed with the question, how men who entertained such principles and feelings, and who so laboured to propagate them, could remain ministers of the Church of England, a startling solution of the difficulty appeared in a Tract for the Times, which in some respects went beyond all that had gone before it. It was professedly a proof, that though the Articles were the offspring of an uncatholic age, and conceived in a Protestant tone, they yet admitted a Catholic interpretation, and might consequently be signed by those who held "Catholic views." This was the professed object of the Tract . What the practical meaning of "Catholic views," as professed and maintained by the school to which the author belonged, was, ought to have ceased to be matter of doubt long before this publication. In fact from the time that in their vocabulary Protestant became synonymous with Anti-Catholic, it ought to have been very clear that Catholic could not very materially differ from Roman. But if any doubt had rested upon this point, the way in which the writer of this Tract chooses to prove that the Articles may be subscribed by men of "Catholic views," was well fitted to take it away: for the mode of proof which is adopted for the most part is, by showing that there is in fact no irreconcilable opposition between the Thirty-nine Articles, and the leading principles of the Church of Rome, as promulgated in the Decrees and Canons of the Council of Trent! This in itself would be enough to give any one acquainted in any measure with the true state of the case, some conception of the character of the publication. Nothing better, in fact, as all such persons must well know, than sophistry and evasion, could be brought in support of such a thesis. And certainly both are employed in the Tract, in as ample measure as any one could be disposed to anticipate.
Not to advert to any of the less direct difficulties which are thrown in the way of such an undertaking by those Articles, of which the bearing on the principles of the Church of Rome, might be matter of argument and inference,—some of them seem to offer an insurmountable obstacle to the attempt, by denouncing explicitly the Romish doctrine upon certain important points. The mode taken with respect to such cases is to distinguish between the doctrine condemned as Romish in the Articles, and that which was established as Romish by the Tridentine Decrees. And the writer lays down as the groundwork of the distinction, that the Articles cannot have been directed against those Decrees, for they were written before the Decrees. Waiving the inquiry how far this is true in point of fact,1 it would not seem to be of much importance to the question. For even if the Articles do not refer to the Decrees, yet if both refer to the same thing,—if the former are intended to condemn what the latter were intended to establish, it would seem enough. And that this at least is the case, would not appear to admit of any reasonable doubt. For first, when it is considered who were the framers of our Articles, it must be seen that if there were a doctrine of the Romish Church, at the time, upon any of the points treated of by the Convocation, it cannot be supposed to have been otherwise than perfectly known to them. So that what they condemn under the name of the Romish Doctrine, was undoubtedly the doctrine of the Church of Rome. And on the other hand it would seem to be just as little to be doubted that the purpose and the effect of the Decrees of the Council, were not to alter the doctrine of the Church, but to establish it.
It would seem that neither of these points could fairly be disputed. In the Tract , however, without openly disputing them, doubts are thrown upon both. And before I consider what is said for that purpose, I may remind you that even if it were successful, still there is another way of establishing the opposition between the Articles and the Decrees, which seems open to no doubt. No one who is acquainted with the Tridentine Canons and Decrees, can doubt that they are directed against the Protestant Doctrine upon the various controverted points on which they treat. If ever they leave it doubtful what it is which they mean to establish as the doctrine of the Church of Rome, they take all due pains to make it very clear what is the doctrine which they mean to oppose and overthrow. They state distinctly (however very often unfairly) the various points in which the Protestant doctrine is opposed to the doctrine of Rome, and they distinctly condemn and anathematize it in every particular. And though sometimes this doctrine is disfigured in their enunciations of it, it retains enough of its pg 643substance, and of its shape too, to identify it beyond any doubt with the Protestant doctrine which our Articles are intended to set forth. So that here is the opposition between the Articles and the Decrees unquestionably established. It is therefore not as a matter of necessity, but as a matter of interest, and as further exhibiting the character of this extraordinary Tract, that I give you the trouble of considering the attempt which it makes to throw doubt upon the fact, that what the Articles condemn as Romish doctrine, is the very doctrine which the Decrees were intended to establish.
It is not denied that when the Reformers in the Articles condemned the Romish doctrine, they perfectly knew what the doctrine of the Church of Rome was; nor, on the other hand, is it expressly asserted that the Council of Trent did not intend to establish that doctrine. But both points are dealt with in this way. It is laid down on the one hand, that "what is opposed (in the Articles) is the received doctrine of the day, and unhappily of this day too, or the doctrine of the Romish schools." And it is asserted or acknowledged, that this doctrine of the Romish schools is rightly considered "the authoritative teaching of the Church of Rome." But in discussing details it is attempted to be shown, that what the Articles have in view, is some of the grosser errors of the popular creed, or the more flagrant abuses of the popular practice. And it is maintained on the other hand, that the errors of the scholastic doctrine are not established by the Decrees, and that the abuses of the popular practice are at times condemned and discountenanced by them, so that the Articles "gain a witness and concurrence from the Council of Trent."
Now, that there was any thing which could bear the name of the authoritative teaching of the Church of Rome, at the time of the Council of Trent, which was not established by its Decrees, was a very new view of the effects of the Council, both to Protestants and Roman Catholics. No one, it is true, could read the Decrees without seeing that they were very artfully framed to avoid an open patronage of whatever had brought most scandal upon the Church; but, then, it seemed equally apparent that they were framed with a full determination to retain the substance of the errors in principle, which were the root and spring of all that was offensive in her practice. Hitherto few seemed to doubt that they had fully succeeded. And by none had this view of the effect of the Council been expressed more decidedly, or more strongly, than by the authors of the Tracts; so that it would be hard to produce from any other source more explicit and pointed contradictions of this novel representation of the Tridentine Decrees.1
Their special charge, indeed, against the Council of Trent, had been, that it fixed upon the Church as its unalterable doctrine, what, up to the time, only existed in such a shape as would allow of its being got rid of. It was the discovering that this was the effect of what he styles "the atrocious council," which, Mr. Froude says, changed altogether his notions of the Roman Catholics, and made him wish for the total overthrow of their system.2 And, in the Tracts, the same view meets us in various shapes. It is stated, that the Council of Trent converted certain theological opinions into (what they maintained to be) Catholic verities.3 And the body of the Romish Church is described as having become uncatholic by the act. Indeed, it is asserted in an earlier Tract, that Rome then first became an heretical Church; and, it is added, "If she has apostatized, it was at the time of the Council of Trent. Then, if at any time, surely not before, did the Roman communion bind itself in covenant to the cause of Antichrist."4
This may be enough to say, in answer to this attempt to distinguish between the Roman doctrine, as established by the decrees of the Council of Trent, and "the authoritative pg 644teaching" of the Church of Rome at the time. But,—perhaps in some distrust of the soundness of the distinction,—more pains are expended upon the other head, viz. that upon the various points on which the Articles condemn "the Romish doctrine" in name, it is, in fact, the grosser errors of the popular creed, or the presumptuous subtilties of the teaching of the schools, which they have in view, and not the substance of the doctrine of the Church of Rome. Of the nature and amount of the sophistry expended upon this point, nothing like an adequate conception could be given, without such a detailed review, as it would be impossible for us now to enter upon. In fact, throughout the whole Tract, but more especially upon this point, the dishonest casuistry to which the Jesuits have given a name, is employed upon a scale to which it would be hard to find a parallel, except in the more notorious of their own writings. One of the society, indeed, Gregory de Valentia, seems to supply the type of the whole argument on this head, when he infers, that as St. Peter speaks of abominable idolatries, there must be some idolatries under the Gospel which are not abominable.1 The Articles furnish the author of the Tract with but slender materials for this kind of logic. But their deficiencies are supplied by resorting to the Homilies, to determine their sense. As might be expected from the purpose of those discourses, and the time and circumstances under which they were written, they contain not a few passages in which the grosser forms in which Romish errors and superstitions manifested themselves, are dwelt upon and exposed. Such passages were evidently intended to exhibit the erroneous principles of the Church of Rome in a stage of development, which was at once fitted to show their true nature, to the many who might not discern it under a less flagrant manifestation of it, and to deepen and quicken the dread and hatred of those false principles in the minds of others, who might not stand in the same need of aids to apprehension; to bring distinctly before the minds of all the members of the Church, what the practical evils of the system had been from which the Reformation had delivered them. But they are not brought forward in the Tract as if such was their purpose, but as if they were to be taken as strict designations of those parts of the Romish system which it was intended to condemn. And forthwith it is inferred, that it is only these forms and degrees of the false doctrine, or the superstitious practice which the Church in the Homily, and therefore in the Article, intends to denounce. And so every degree short of that which figures in these descriptions, and every doctrine and practice akin to those described, but not formally comprehended under these illustrations, are held to be outside the denunciations of the Articles, so that their truth and falsehood, lawfulness or unlawfulness, are open questions among those who have subscribed the Articles. Such unfairness appears hardly to admit of aggravation. But yet it must be felt to be not a little aggravated by the fact, that there are passages in the Homilies,—sometimes in the very Homily from which these quotations are made,—sometimes even in direct connexion with the passages quoted,—which plainly testify that the Church was opposed to the Romish doctrine on the points referred to, in every degree and under every form, and not merely in those extreme degrees and those grosser forms, which, for obvious reasons, it takes most pains to present in full detail.2
But I should, as I said, despair of conveying anything like a full impression of the shifting, evasive, and disingenuous sophistry, with which the purpose of the Tract is followed out, except by an actual review in detail of the mode of treating some of the heads. And for this we have no time. I must satisfy myself, therefore, with this general account of this celebrated publication, and return to the history which it has interrupted. It seemed as if some mistake had been committed in supposing the public mind ripe for so open a demonstration. For this attempt to show how unavailing were the barriers against Romanism, which the Reformers had reared, and in which their posterity had hitherto confided, seemed everywhere to excite painful and indignant surprise. Any one who had reflected upon what these authors had been saying upon almost every point which divides us from the Church of Rome, must have seen that some such process as that which is given in the Tract, must have been gone through, in order to reconcile them to remaining where they were. But few had so reflected. And even those who had, were startled (as often happens) when they saw the process exhibited nakedly, pg 645and in detail, which they had thought over in a general way, it might be, with but feeble sentiments of disgust and alarm.
It was impossible in the first place for any thinking person to see, without much alarm, the advance in their progress towards Rome, which the party had made in a comparatively short period. How far this was to be set down to a rapid development of their principles, and how far to a more open disclosure of them, it was not easy to determine. For, besides other evidences of a politic concealment of their opinions and feelings, we find the writer of this Tract complaining of having been forced to a premature disclosure of them on one point by circumstances in his position at Oxford, which were often, he intimates, interfering with the reserve concerning them which it might be prudent to adopt.1 But whichever it were, development or disclosure, the visible advance which the movement had made towards Rome in a very short period, was enough to amaze and terrify those who saw no cause of alarm in the first steps in the same path. One example of this, which is so important a fact with reference to the movement, I shall give, as it may be given in a very few words. Mr. Froude's Remains, as I have before mentioned, offended all who were outside the party, and many who, up to the publication of them, had been regarded as belonging to it; and in nothing more than by the undisguised admiration with which he regarded much in the Romish system which Protestants in general had been taught to view in a very different light. He seems very earnestly to have desired a reunion with Rome, but to have felt that in the Council of Trent there was an insurmountable obstacle to the accomplishment of his wishes. We have seen, in consequence, in what terms he spoke of the Council. It appears indeed that, when at Rome, he consulted an eminent Ecclesiastic upon the terms on which the English Church (or a portion of it) would be received back again; and that, upon finding that the Council must be taken whole, by any who would return to the Church of Rome, he was driven to despair of the event, feeling the condition to be impossible. And he declares thereupon his resolution to abandon reunion with Rome, as the object to be agitated for by his party, and to substitute in its stead, a return to the principles of the Non-jurors, under the name of "The Ancient Church of England." And the strength of his feeling upon this point was further evinced by a saying, which is recorded in his Remains, and which was circulated very extensively, together with other extracts of an Anti-Romish character from the publications of the school, when the object was to clear them from the charge of a leaning to Popery. Upon one saying that the Romanists were schismatics in England, but Catholics abroad, he replied, No, they are wretched Tridentines every where. And yet in the few years which had elapsed, what had appeared to his sanguine and not over-scrupulous mind an insurmountable obstacle, seemed to have been almost, if not altogether, cleared away. The detestation with which the Council was regarded had disappeared, and the impediments to reunion with Rome no longer lay in its immutable canons and decrees, but in the popular belief and in the teaching of the schools; which so many of these writers held to be a bad reason for separating from her at the first, and which they were so little likely long to regard (if they still regarded it) as a sufficient ground for keeping up the separation. But be that as it might, so far as the Tridentine Decrees and the Thirty-nine Articles were concerned, there was no impediment to a reconciliation—it was only to master thoroughly, and employ boldly, the scheme of interpretation provided in the Tract, and the supposed opposition between them would disappear.2
pg 646Such an advance as this, made any further advance credible;1 and the process by which it was justified, made any further advance easy.2 And both not unnaturally excited very general alarm and indignation. But with whatever measure of such feelings the publication was received, while it was regarded as a defence of the author, and those who felt with him, for continuing ministers of the Church of England, they fell far short of those which it raised, when pg 647it was known what its true object was. It was distinctly stated by the author of the Tract himself, in an apologetic letter which he was led to publish, in the beginning of the pamphlet war to which it gave rise, that it was written at the earnest instance of some whom he revered, who urged him to do all that he could to keep members of our Church from straggling in the direction of Rome. He does not expressly say who they were who were in danger of thus falling away, but little doubt could be entertained that they were principally the younger members of the University, and those who had lately left its walls; whose attachment to their own Church had been shaken by the unwearied labours of the writer and his colleagues. That such views were entertained by those who possessed such means of extending them, and who used them all so actively and perseveringly, was indeed alarming. And no honest mind could learn without surprise and indignation that these men were not merely professed members, but ministers, of our own Church. But their actual success in propagating their principles in such a quarter, was still more startling tidings to the many who heard them for the first time. It could not but fill every sound mind with still livelier indignation, and still more anxious apprehensions, to learn, that young men, confided to the University to be trained in the principles of the Church, had been taught so different a lesson; that their warm and susceptible minds had been so acted upon, that instead of being confirmed in the feelings of reverence and attachment to their own Church with which they had begun their course, they now needed the sophistry of this Tract to keep them within its pale. But it was still worse to know that they were capable of making use of it. I repeat deliberately, that distressing and alarming as it was to find, that a portion of the flower and hope of the country had had their Protestant principles so shaken by those who should have established them, that they stood in actual need themselves of this singular Preservative from Popery; it was still more distressing and alarming to learn, that their honesty had been so tainted in the process, that they were capable of employing it,—that one who must have been supposed to have known intimately the minds on which he had exercised so baleful an influence, should have been able to calculate on their readiness to avail themselves of such a mode of escape from the fair force of the most solemn and sacred obligations, by such sophistry and evasion, such shifts and contrivances as a man could not apply to the very lightest of the engagements of common life, without forfeiting all reputation for integrity and good faith.
Soon after, the Board of the Heads of Houses, the executive authority of Oxford, in vindication of the character of the University, and to impede the further propagation of such principles among its members, visited the Tract with their solemn censure. The grave and well-considered document in which it was conveyed, after referring first to the statutes of the University, in which it is enjoined that every student shall be instructed in the Thirty-nine Articles, and shall subscribe to them, disclaims on behalf of the University all sanction of the Series of Tracts with which its name had been associated; and then proceeds to pronounce the following measured but severe sentence upon the particular number which had attracted so much attention:
"Resolved, That modes of interpretation such as are suggested in the said Tract, evading rather than explaining the sense of the Thirty-nine Articles, and reconciling subscription to them with the adoption of errors which they were designed to counteract, defeat the objects and are inconsistent with the due observance of the above-mentioned statutes."
I shall not attempt to advert in any way to the various pamphlets to which this celebrated publication gave rise, except to say that they included very strenuous defences of its principles from every person of note who had contributed to the series.—Here then at last was something which must be received, one would say, as evidence, not less authentic than it was unequivocal, of the Rome-ward tendencies of the principles of the authors of the Tracts for the Times. It was itself a Tract for the limes. It was written by one who was esteemed the real head of the Tractarian party, though the popular voice had assigned that place to another. But however that might be, that other, and every other member of the party of any name, had come forward, to avow and defend the general principles of the Tract, though not subscribing to every particular position in it.
The Tract is of very great importance in this point of view, as an authentic declaration of the principles of this formidable party; and perhaps of no less in another, that is, as an authentic pg 648defence of the principles of the authors of the Tracts for the Times, (considered as ministers of the Church of England) devised by one of these authors, inferior to none in ingenuity, and countersigned by the most eminent of his colleagues;—which may, therefore, be fairly taken as the best attempt that can be devised to reconcile their principles to the obligations under which they lie by subscription to the Articles of the Church. And accordingly I believe that it was conclusive with many, who had held out against all other proofs of the principles and objects of the party.
At the recommendation of the Bishop of the Diocese, the series of Tracts for the Times terminated with this Number. But the movement, as might have been predicted, has gone on at an accelerated rate. The party have long possessed a most formidable, and indeed astonishing command of the press, and speak through a great variety of organs. The one which furnishes perhaps the fullest and clearest evidence of their steady advance is the British Critic; the length of its articles admitting of a more detailed and orderly exhibition of the views of the school than is compatible with the character of the less deliberate publications, magazines and newspapers, through which their principles are most industriously disseminated. I shall give from its pages, a few specimens of the recent and actual tone of the party.
The contemptuous and bitter passages in which the Reformation, and the Reformed Church are spoken of, were very generally felt to be a very offensive part of Tract 90.1
. . . It had been ostentatiously stated, from time to time, that we can have no union with Rome as she is: that she must change before we can become one again: that she must move towards us, before we can move towards her. And such declarations were confidently referred to, as a full answer to all apprehensions on that head. But, after allowing her a reasonable time, it was found, that she continued what and where she was, and that she gave no sign of any disposition to move towards us, or to make any such changes as might facilitate our moving towards her. And then it became necessary to discover that the hindrances which it was hopeless to expect that she would take away, were, in reality, no hindrances at all. And this work was set about in earnest,2 and has already advanced so far, that it cannot but be apparent that, (when their desires for reunion are so fervent,) these men must be kept back from joining her, by some better and stronger reasons, than any which can be furnished by the shadow of the differences between pg 649the Churches which they have allowed to remain in their Creed. Tract No. XC. showed, indeed, how they might, if they pleased, remain in the Church, how much soever of the belief of Rome they had embraced, but it docs not explain why they should choose to do so. And why men who seem to have extirpated from their religious system every trace of anything which could raise a serious objection to union with Rome; and who entertain so high a sense of the blessings to be enjoyed in her communion, and so fervent a longing for them;—why they continue to exclude themselves from such blessings; and to subject themselves to the isolation under which they groan, and to all the perplexities and disadvantages of communion with a Church, which can barely be proved to be, not schismatical, and not uncatholic, and even that, by a process of interpretation, of which it has been pronounced, by what they acknowledge to be the highest authority, that it is so subtle, that by it the Articles may be made to mean anything or nothing,—is certainly a question which may well perplex simple minds. It can hardly fail to suggest itself, that they remain in our Church rather for her sake than for their own,—for what they hope to do for her, rather than what they enjoy in her, or hope from her.
. . . May we all, my brethren, each in his place, be kept faithful to our duty in this trying time. An arduous one at best it is. But it ought to be somewhat lightened by our being forewarned of its difficulties. And we now know what is before us. A struggle—for I do trust we are united in a determination to struggle in this cause—a struggle, with those who avow that it is their purpose, at all hazards, and at all costs, to unprotestantize the National Church;—and who, far as they have already receded, acknowledge and proclaim, that they are bound, and that they are resolved, to recede more and more from the principles of the English Reformation .
These are bold words. And if we looked at the ability of the "ecclesiastical agitators," (as they style themselves,) who employ them—at their energy, combination, and perseverance, at the means which they have at command, and at the effects which they have produced—we might well listen to their words with fear. And moreover, when we look back upon the use which we have been making of the blessings and privileges which we enjoy in our Reformed Church, we have added reason to dread, that it may be the will of God to withdraw for a time from the land, the light, which has shone for so long, and which has been so neglected and so abused. But we are not without cheering indications on the other hand, that He whose mercy endureth forever, docs not intend for us this heavy chastisement, which we most righteously have deserved. And, among these indications of His gracious purposes for us, one to which here and now I naturally turn, us this: that He has not brought us into these unexampled perils, without making a visible preparation to enable us to meet them. I believe, that while at no former period did the clergy manifest more piety and zeal, there never was a period in which they were so soundly informed; and that, in particular, the true principles of our Church were never so well known by her ministers, and never more deeply valued. I believe that this is the case in England: I am sure it is amongst ourselves. And I do hope, that these men will find that they have under-rated the attachment of the clergy, and of the people of England too, to the principles against which they have declared open war;—that the astonishing success which has intoxicated them, and beguiled them in this salutary manifesto, has been the result of ignorance,—most incomprehensible, and inexcusable, but still real, ignorance—of their designs, and that now that they have unequivocally declared themselves, their success will come to an end.'
1 'See Note D 2. Appendix.'
1 'A number of extracts from the Tracts, and from the other writings of their chief authors, are appended to Dr. Pusey's Letter to the Bishop of Oxford, with a view to clearing the party of the imputation of a leaning to Rome. Amongst these passages, are several from Mr. Newman's works, one of which is as follows. "The Council of Trent did, as regards Roman errors, what, for all we know, though God forbid, some future synod of the English Church may do, as regards Protestant errors, take them into her system, make them forms of communion, bind upon her hitherto-favoured sons their grievous chain. And what that unhappy council did for Rome, that does every one in his place, and according to his power, who by declaiming against, and denouncing those who dare to treat Protestant errors as unestablished, gives a helping hand to their establishment." Newman's Letter to Faussett, p. 15. And again, "Why are the Tracts to be censured for stating a plain historical fact, that the Roman Church did not, till Trent, embody in her Creed, the mass of her present tenets, while they do not deny, but expressly acknowledge her great corruptions before that era." Ibid. p. 18.'
3 'No. LXI. p. 3.'
1 'Quoted by Bishop Hall. "How must he, [that is well grounded in the doctrine of the Second Commandment,] needs bless himself at the strange collection of a Valentia, because St. Peter cries out of abominable idolatries, that therefore there are some idolatries under the gospel which are not abominable." The Peace-Maker, Sect. II.'
2 'See Note E.'
1 '"And perhaps I may be permitted to add, that our difficulties are much increased in a place like this, when there are a number of persons of practised intellects, who, with or without unfriendly motives, are ever drawing out the ultimate conclusions in which our principles result, and forcing us to affirm or deny what we would fain not consider or pronounce upon. . . . Accordingly I left, for instance, the portion which treated of the invocation of saints, without any definite conclusion at all, after bringing together various passages in illustration. However, friends and opponents discovered that my premises required, what I was very unwilling to state categorically, for various reasons, that the ora pro nobis was not on my shewing necessarily included in the invocation of saints which the Article condemns." Newman's Letter to the Bishop of Oxford, p. 18.'
2 'The substance of a Letter from the Rev. G. Spencer to the Editor of the Univers, on the Catholic movement in England, has been circulated a good deal in this country. As there seems no reason to doubt its genuineness, the portion of it which bears upon this point seems worth extracting here. "They constantly maintain that though the Thirty-nine Articles, which are the confession of faith of the Anglican Church, were the work of men, like Cranmer, infected with heresy, yet that God did not permit that there should be inserted into them any declarations absolutely contrary to the Catholic faith. They prove by facts drawn from the history of their church, that, ever since the pretended Reformation, this church has ever had within her bosom, and in an uninterrupted succession, Doctors, Priests, and Bishops, who have signed the aforesaid Articles in a sense altogether Catholic; still further they openly avow, that they themselves have no objection to urge against the decisions of the Council of Trent, that it is in the sense of the Catholic faith as agreed upon at that Council, that they profess to understand the formularies of their own church. Lastly, as a proof that the spirit of the Anglican Church is essentially Catholic, and that its formularies cannot be regarded as implying a formal condemnation of Catholic doctrines, they point to this significant fact, viz. that since they have openly proclaimed these sentiments to the world, nobody has been able to offer them any effectual opposition. At first there was an outcry against them, but latterly they have been allowed to go on pretty much as they liked."
'Another letter addressed to the Editor of the Univers, professing to be written by "a young member of the University of Oxford," and dated, "Oxford, Passion Sunday, 1841," was reprinted in the Catholic Magazine for May in the same year, in which it is said that "the Editor of the Univers vouches for its authenticity." It furnishes the following extract upon the same point. "Mr. Newman, one of our theologians, published a few days since, the 90th Number of the "Tracts for the Times," in which he designs to demonstrate that the Church of Rome has fallen into no formal error in the Council of Trent, that the invocations of the saints, (the ora pro nobis for example) purgatory, and the supremacy of the Holy See of Rome, are in no way contrary to the Catholic traditions, or even to our authorized formularies; in fine, that the dogma of transubstantiation should be no obstacle to the union of churches, as in this article there is only a verbal difference between them. At the same time, that he is but little satisfied with our Thirty-nine Articles, although he maintains throughout that the providence of God hindered the Reformers from openly inserting in them the Protestant dogmas to which they were but too much attached. You will perceive, Sir, all the importance of those opinions, and the more so, as they are not the opinions of an isolated theologian. I can assure you, that at the same time that an opposition was raised by the elder members of the university, (as might be expected, seeing that they lived under the light of the eighteenth century,) that very opposition gave me an opportunity of observing, that even the most moderate of the Catholic party at Oxford were ready to sustain the author of the tracts."'
1 'It was referred to at the time by Dr. Wiseman, in a Letter to the author of Tract No. XC. And the remarkable change which his views upon this point had undergone, was gravely, but pointedly pressed upon him, as a motive to forbearance in the use of severe language concerning those portions of the Romish system which he had not yet adopted, but to the truth and holiness of which, as past experience ought to teach him, his eyes might be so opened as to make him bitterly regret his present asperities towards them. The fairness and propriety of this "charitable warning" were sufficiently vindicated by the past; but they have been further curiously justified, since these pages went to press, by an explicit retractation by the author of the Tract, of all the strong and hard things which he had published for the last eight years against Rome, whether with or without his name; the strength and severity of which were so often referred to in that eventful time, as proving that the Anti-Protestantism of the writer and his party was not Romanism. This palinode was given to the public in a letter to the Editor of the Conservative Journal in February last. It was for some unexplained reason, published without any signature; but there can be no doubt whose it is, as in the body of it the writer refers to a work published with the name of the author of the 90th Tract, and treats it as his own. He accounts for his having ventured to use the language which he employed in speaking against the Church of Rome, in the following remarkable passage: "If you ask me how an individual could venture, not simply to hold, but to publish such views of a communion so ancient, so wide-spreading, so fruitful in saints, I answer, that I said to myself, "I am not speaking my own words, I am but following almost a consensus of the divines of my Church. They have ever used the strongest language against Rome, even the most able and learned of them. I wish to throw myself into their system. While I say what they say, I am safe. Such views too are necessary to our position." Yet I have reason to fear that such language is to be ascribed, in no small measure, to an impetuous temper, a hope of approving myself to persons' respect, and a wish to repel the charge of Romanism."'
2 'That the meaning proposed to be assigned to the Articles is not that which those who framed them intended them to bear, is not denied. And on the other hand it cannot be pretended that the sense proposed to be put on the Tridentine Decrees is that which their framers intended to express. Indeed the author in his explanatory letter to Dr. Jelf, says: "Those decrees expressed her [Rome's] authoritative teaching, and they will still continue to express it, while she so teaches. The simple question is, whether taken by themselves in the mere letter, they express it; whether, in fact, other senses, short of the sense conveyed in the present authoritative teaching of the Romish Church will not fulfil their letter, and may not now even in point of fact be held in that Church." P. 4. So far as the Tract itself was concerned, it might be doubtful whether the new scheme of interpretation, which it provides, was intended to show those who hold the substance of the Articles, that they may assent to the letter of the Decrees; or those who hold the substance of the Decrees, that they may subscribe to the letter of the Articles. From the circumstances we presume that the latter was the real object . But indeed it is evidently equally capable of being employed to enable a man who believes neither, to assent to both.'
1 'See Appendix, Note F.'
2 'What promised to be the most formidable obstacle, I do not mean from its own nature, which would be a very precarious way of judging, but from the language maintained by all the eminent Tractarians upon it, was, the extent to which the honour due to the Creator is given to the creature, in the worship of saints in the Church of Rome, and especially of the blessed Virgin. If the Church were really guilty of idolatry, it would seem impossible that we should reunite with it. This would seem then an important point to be inquired into. But Mr. Newman lays down, quietly and incidentally, a broad general principle, which would preclude us from examining any of the offices of the Church, to see whether they are chargeable with this guilt or not, and which decides this important question, independently of any such evidence, and in spite of it: "I consider its existing creed and popular worship to be as near idolatry as any portion of that Church can be from which it is said that "the idols" shall be 'utterly abolished.'" Letter to Dr. Jelf p. 7. Whatever then be the proofs which the public offices of the Church of Rome may give of idolatry, they are not to be believed; for being a portion of that Church from which it is said that "the idols" shall be "utterly abolished," however near she may appear to come to this crime, she cannot be guilty of it. [The object in this place is to distinguish between the decree of Trent on the subject of images, &c. and "the existing creed and popular worship," on the ground that the "very words of themselves" of the decree, do not affirm or recommend what is believed and practised in the Church of Rome. But whether the distinction be satisfactory or not, it is quite superfluous. For suppose the very words of the Decree, of themselves, did affirm distinctly, and enjoin, idolatry in belief and practice, it is evident that the prophecy referred to by Mr. New man (Isaiah ii. 18.) would be just as available to prove the Church's innocence of the crime, as it is in the case for which he uses it. But indeed, supposing every thing which is taken for granted in his application of the prophecy, (which is a good deal), his inference is plainly just as legitimate as it would be to collect from the fourth verse of the same chapter, that there never has been, and never can be, any such thing as war in Christendom; though Christian states may go as near to actual warfare as any kingdoms can, of which it is said, "Neither shall they learn war any more."] This principle, rightly used, would be enough for its purpose, but important contributions to the object have been since made. Thus with reference to the mediæval honour to saints, it is denied that we have any right to pronounce upon the question, whether it gave to the creature what is due to the Creator. We may believe, if we will, that we could not use such language as St. Bernard, and St. Bonaventure are known to have used, without encroaching on God's honour, but to say that it did so in them is inconceivable boldness. "Is it not a conceivable hypothesis (to say the very least) that holy and mortified men, whose conversation was in Heaven, may have entertained feelings of devotion and love e. g. towards the blessed Virgin, which no human language can at all adequately express, and yet that their feeling towards our Lord should be altogether different in kind, and indefinitely stronger in degree? Yet what words could they find stronger than those already applied to the blessed Virgin? What words can be stronger than the strongest?" British Critic, No. LXIV. p. 410, note.
'Here is another pregnant principle. And finally, the whole subject is declared to be one upon which it is entirely beyond the competence of ordinary Christians to form an opinion. "No one who has not fully mastered this great doctrine, [of the exaltation of the human nature by virtue of its union of the divine, in the person of our Lord,] is entitled to any opinion on a subject, which many however treat in an off-hand manner which is perfectly startling, the question, namely, what is the full and legitimate development of Catholic doctrine on the exaltation and intercessory power of the blessed Virgin." Ibid, p. 406. note.'