Page images


ing obedience to the Rubrics l; upholders of human tradition when they were thanking God that the Church rested on no human names, but was derived from the Apostles ; founders of a party when they advocated the maintenance of One Catholic Church ; their position was unique; they were accused of being inventors of novelties and bigots of antiquity.

Of all those," writes the Quarterly Reviewer m, “who in these later years have quitted the Church of England for the Roman Communion-esteemed, honoured, and beloved as were many of them-no one, save Dr. Newman, appears to us to possess the rare gift of undoubted genius "." Dr. Newman has

n himself given us an account full of interest and instruction of the different processes through which he passed. He tells us how he was brought up in principles exactly the reverse of Catholic; how by education and choice he was in his early years a Calvinist, not without a tendency to scepticism. Yet he claims to have been always the same, only under Heaven-sent guidance; to have been from first to last under a continual state of progress and development; in the principles of dogma he was at all times equally clear ; what he held in 1816 he


I Tract 69.

Q. R., October, 1864. This was written in 1864, after the secession of Manning and the two Wilberforces; and if it was true then, it may be said with greater certainty that no convert beyond mediocrity has left us for the Church of Rome between that time and this.

held in 1833 and 1864, only having added articles to his faitho.

“When I was fourteen,” he says, “I read Paine's Tracts against the Old Testament, and found pleasure in thinking of the objections contained in them.” By the time he was twenty-one the doctrine which he had held “gradually faded away." His next teacher was Scott, the Commentator; Milner's Church History, and Newton on the Prophecies exercised a strong influence upon him. In 1822 he came under the influence of Hawkins, through whom he became acquainted with Sumner's “Treatise on Apostolical Preaching," from which, he says, “I learnt to give up my remaining Calvinism, and to receive the doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration." From Dr. Hawkins also he learnt the value of Tradition, which led to his abandoning the Bible Society, to which up to that time he had belonged. Dr. Whately, who was then Principal of St. Alban Hall, “emphatically opened my mind and taught me to think.” In 1826 he became acquainted with Robert Wilberforce and Hurrell Froude, the latter of whom he accompanied in 1832 in a tour in the Mediterranean. At Rome they met with Cardinal Wiseman ; the only service

: they attended there was the Tenebræ in the Sistine

• It was for these reasons he was charged with vacillation and untruthfulness, and to these charges we are indebted for the Apologia.

Chapel, and the only impression made upon Newman's mind was “All save the spirit of man is divine P." With Froude he remained on the most affectionate terms of friendship till the death of the latter in 18369. His opinions “arrested and influenced me even when they did not gain my assent. He professed openly his admiration of the Church of Rome and his hatred of the Reformers...and he gloried in accepting tradition as a main instrument of religious teaching." “He could not believe that I really held the Roman Church to be Antichristian.” “It is difficult to enumerate the precise additions to my theological creed which I derived from a friend to whom I owe so much. He made you look with admiration towards the Church of Rome, and in the same degree to dislike the Reformation. He fixed in me the idea of devotion to the Blessed Virgin, and he led me gradually to believe in the Real Presence."

We must briefly sum up the processes through which his mind passed at this period of his life. He describes himself as at one time an Anglo-Catholic, and as seeing Antichrist in Rome; he falls back upon the via media, and when that broke down

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

p On his way homeward, the vessel in which he travelled was becalmed in the Straits of Bonifacio, and it was there that he wrote the beautiful hymn commencing “ Lead, kindly light.”

4 In 1833 he brought out his “ History of the Arians,” in writing which he “saw the ghost which eventually drove him to Rome.”

he was left "very nearly a pure Protestant;" again he has a “new theory made expressly for the occasion, and is pleased with his new view ";" he rests in “Samaria" before he finds his way over to Rome. Still his standpoint all along had been what the great Anglican Divines had held, that the English Church is a true branch of the Catholic Church, and that it held all the essential parts of Catholicity; he saw the novelty of all that is distinctively Roman, the antiquity of everything that is distinctively Anglican.

The first great difficulty in his path dawned upon him in 1839. He tells us how in that year "about the middle of June I began to study the history of the Monophysites. I was absorbed in the doctrinal question. It was during this course of reading that for the first time a doubt came upon me as to the tenableness of Anglicanism.” The idea flashed across his mind that the English Church is in the position of the Monophysite heretics of the fifth century. "By the end of August I became seriously alarmed.

.. My stronghold was antiquity. Now here in the middle of the fifth century I found, as it seemed to me, the Christendom of the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries reflected. I saw my face in that mirror, and I was a Monophysite." "It was difficult,” he says, “to make out how the Eutychians, or Mono

Apologia, 269.

physites, were heretics, unless Protestants and Anglicans were heretics also 8." Whilst he was in this dilemma, “a friend, an anxiously religious man, now and then very dear to me, a Protestant still, pointed out the palmary words of St. Augustine, ‘Securus judicat Orbis terrarum'... they decided ecclesiastical questions on a simpler rule than that of antiquity. . . . By these great words of the ancient Father the theory of the via media was absolutely pulverized !.” This new rule of the Securus judicat Orbis terrarum “decided ecclesiastical questions in a simpler rule than that of antiquity;" he split up the theory of St. Vincent of Lerins, quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus, and preferred the theory of universality to that of antiquity, which latter, in his opinion, Rome had not and England had. Yet notwithstanding the Monophysite struggle that was going on within him, he was still satisfied with his position in the English Church, The thought for the moment had been the Church of Rome will be found right after all;' then it had vanished; my old convictions remained as before 1." But whilst pursuing his reading of St. Augustine, “the ghost had come a second time. I saw that in the history of the Arians, the pure Arians were the Protestants, the SemiArians the Anglicans, and that Rome now was what it was!"

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Ibid., 213.

+ Ibid., 212.

Ibid., 243.

« PreviousContinue »