Page images

duty to remain in the University : it seems very like presumption on my part, and a coming forward without authority, when those, who have authority, judge that there is no occasion for any protest. My defence must be, that the principle to which I so object, and which appears to me to be involved by a continuance in the University, may not appear to others to be at stake on the present occasion : that I am not professing, therefore, or pretending to be more zealous for Christianity than other members of the Senate, but that what appears to me to be dangerous appears to them to be perfectly innocent; and that they naturally, therefore, think most of the good which the University will do, while I fear that all that good will be purchased by a greater evil, and cannot, therefore, take any part in the good, as I should wish to do, because, to my apprehension, it will be bought too dearly. On the whole, my leaning is towards resigning; and then I think that I ought to do it speedily, as my own act, and not one into which I may seem to have been shamed by the remonstrances or example of others--of King's College, for instance; if, as seems possible, they may renounce all connexion with us after our late decision.

[blocks in formation]

February 17, 1838. You will feel, I think, the exceedingly difficult situation in which I am placed. I am personally very anxious to resign; but the engine is so powerful, that I hardly dare to abandon all share in the guidance of it, while there is any chance of turning it to good. I feel, also, that the decision of King's College would greatly assist in determining me how to act. If they break off all connexion with us, and thus leave us wholly in the condition of an University for men of one party only, I should be in haste to be gone : but if they stay on, and are willing to avail themselves of our religious Examination, I should like to

stay on too, to make that Examination as good as I could. If you know what Hugh Rose's sentiments are on this point, will you have the goodness to write me a few lines about it. Your Consecration Sermon for the Bishop of Salisbury never reached me, or othewise I hope that I should have had the grace to thank you for it long ere now. I used to think that we agreed well, but I heard that you had been shocked by my Church Reform Pamphlet; and many men with whom I once agreed have been scared in these later days, and have, as I think, allowed their fears to drive them to the wrong quarter for relief. I could tell you readily enough with what parties I disagreed-namely, with all. My own TENSIÓTATOV Téros I shall never see fulfilled, and what is the least bad, deutépos Trous, I hardly know. ... I heard of


bad illness, and was glad to find that you were recovered again. I, too, have felt lately that I am not so young as when we skirmished in the common room at Oriel, or speared on Shotover; but God gives me still so much health and strength, that I have no excuse for not serving Him more actively.




Rugby, February 28, 1838. Some passages of your letter have, I confess, , alarmed me, as seeming to show that you do not enough allow for the effect of the local influences around you ; that questions assume an unreal importance in your eyes, because of their accidental magnitude within the immediate range of your own view ; that you are disposed to dispute great truths, because in the society into which you happen to be thrown, it has become the fashion to assail them. Now, I remember that in Henry Martyn's Journal, written when he was in Persia, there is a passage to this effect :-“I reviewed the evidence in proof of the falsehood of Mahommedanism, and found it clear and convincing.” It was natural that to him, living in Persia, Mahommedanism should have acquired an importance of which we in Europe can form no idea ; it was natural that he should endeavour to satisfy himself of the falsehood of that which we in England may dismiss from our minds with little hesitation. But I think it would have startled us, had we found him attaching so much weight to the goodness and the ability of the Persian Imaums around him, as to conceive it possible that they might be right, and that he might find himself obliged to abandon his faith in Christ, and adopt Islam. Now, you will forgive me for saying that a passage in your letter did startle me nearly as much, when-impressed as it seems by the local and present authority of Newmanism-you imagined the possibility that you might be forced to look elsewhere than in the New Testament for the full picture of Christianity; that you might, on the supposed result of reading through certain books, written in the second and third centuries, be inclined to adopt the views of St. Paul's Judaizing opponents, and reject his own. I think that you state the question fairly,- that it does in fact involve a choice between the Gospel of Christ, as declared by himself and by his Apostles, and that deadly apostacy which St. Paul in his lifetime saw threatening, -nay, the effects of which, during his captivity, had well nigh supplanted his own Gospel in the Asiatic Churches, and which, he declares, would come speedily with a fearful power of lying wonders. The Newmanites would not, I think, yet dare to admit that their religion was different from that of the New Testament; but I am perfectly satisfied that it is so, and that what they call Ecclesiastical Tradition, contains things wholly inconsistent with the doctrines of our Lord, of St. Paul, of St. Peter, and of St. John. And it is because I see these on the one side, and on the other not the writings merely of fallible men, but of men who, even in human matters, are most unfit to be an authority, from their being merely the echo of the opinions of their time,

instead of soaring far above them into the regions of eternal truth; (the unvarying mark of all those great men who are and have been--not infallible indeed—but truly an authority, claiming à priori our deference, and making it incumbent on us to examine well before we pronounce in the peculiar line of their own greatness against them) because the question is truly between Paul and Cyprian; and because all that is in any way good in Cyprian, which is much, is that which he gained from Paul and from Christianity,—that I should not feel myself called upon, except from local or temporary circumstances, to enter into the inquiry. And, if I did enter into it, I should do it in Martyn's spirit, to satisfy myself, by a renewed inquiry, that I had unshaken grounds for rejecting the apostacy, and for cleaving to Christ and to His Apostles ; not as if by possibility I could change my Master, and having known Christ and the perfections of His Gospel, could ever, whilst life and reason remained, go from Him, to bow down before an unsightly idol.

And what is there à priori to tempt me to think that this idol should be a god? This, merely,--that in a time of much excitement, when popular opinions in their most vulgar form were very noisy, and seemed to some very alarming, there should have arisen a strong reaction, in which the common elements of Toryism and High Church feeling, at all times rife in Oxford, should have been moulded into a novel form by the peculiar spirit of the place,—that sort of religious aristocratical chivalry so catching to young men, to students, and to members of the aristocracy,--and still more, by the revival of the spirit of the Nonjurors in two or three zealous and able men, who have given a systematic character to the whole. The very same causes produced the same result after the Reformation, in the growth and spread of Jesuitism. No man can doubt the piety of Loyola and many of his followers; yet, what Christian, in England at least, can doubt that, as Jesuitism, it was not of God; that it was grounded on

falsehood, and strove to propagate falsehood? So, again, the Puritans led to the Nonjurors; zealous, many of them, and pious, but narrow-minded in the last degree, fierce and slanderous; and, even when they were opposing that which was very wrong, meeting it with something as wrong or worse, Kenn, and Hickes, and Dodwell, and Leslie, are now historical characters; we can see their party in its beginning, middle, and end, and it bears on it all the marks of an heresy and of a faction, whose success would have obstructed good, and preserved or restored evil. Whenever you see the present party acting as a party, they are just like the Nonjurors,—busy, turbulent, and narrow-minded; with no great or good objects, but something that is at best fantastic, and generally mischievous. That many of these men, as of the Nonjurors and of the Jesuits, are far better than their cause and principles, I readily allow; but their cause is ever one and the same—a violent striving for forms and positive institutions, which, ever since Christ's Gospel has been preached, has been always wrong,—wrong, as the predominant mark of a party ; because there has always been a greater good which needed to be upheld, and a greater evil which needed to be combated, even when what they upheld was good, and what they combated was bad. And if this same spirit infected the early Church also, as from the circumstances of the times and the position of the Church it was exceedingly likely to do,-if it infected all the eminent ecclesiastical leaders, whose power and influence it was so eminently fitted to promote,-if they by their credit, (in many respects most deserved,) persuaded the Church to adopt it,-shall we dignify their error by the specious name of the “ Consent of Antiquity," and call it an“ Apostolical Tradition,” and think that it should guide us in the interpretation of Scripture; when we see distinctly in the Scripture itself that this very same spirit was uniformly opposed to our Lord and His Apostles, and when it is one of the commonest sophisms which History ex

« PreviousContinue »