« PreviousContinue »
hesitating, deflecting, as such minds invariably do, yet never once falling into the moral abyss of hypocrisy or false seeming. From his very childhood he is earnest, and earnest after religious truth. He begins life a dreamer of dreams, but they all point in the same direction. As a schoolboy
"I used to wish that the Arabian Nights' were true; my imagination ran on unknown influences, on magical powers and talismans. I thought life might be a dream, or I an angel, and all this world a deception; my fellow-angels, by a playful device, concealing themselves from me, and deceiving me with the semblance of a material world; and I was very superstitious, and for some time previous to my conversion (when I was fifteen) used constantly to cross myself on going into the dark."
A youth who could name the year of his conversion, took naturally to the school of Low-Church or Calvinistic divinity. Romaine, and Thomas Scott of Acton Sandford, became his spiritual guides, and the late Bishop Wilson of Calcutta his Coryphæus. It is characteristic of the man, however, that all this while young Newman was at once a reader of deistical publications, and prone to ornament his copy and Latin verse-books with pictures of crosses and rosaries. Already his mind was faltering amid its excess of steadfastness. The extremes of Evangelicalism fought against latent infidelity; indeed, the only settled principle which seems to have rooted itself within him was a conviction that men are divided into two classes: the elect, who, come what will, cannot be lost; the non-elect, on whose final destiny it is not for children of time to pronounce a judgment.
It was inevitable that a disciple of Romaine and Thomas Scott should read with interest Milner's 'Church History.' From Milner Mr Newman learned to become enamoured of the Fathers, whom, however, it is fair to add, both Milner and he studied through a medium of the most blinding prejudice. For
them St Augustine was the highest of all authorities, not in regard to matters of fact alone, but on points of dogma referring specially to the question of God's foreknowledge and man's free-will. And then came Newton on the Prophecies, creating an assurance, not absolutely set aside for many long years, that the Pope was the Antichrist predicted by Daniel. Strange to say, however, it was at that very timeat the period when Milner and Newton were studied and believed
that a conviction took possession of the young enthusiast that God had set him apart for a life of celibacy. The idea never afterwards departed from him. It became at once the cause, as to a certain extent it was the effect, of those ascetic habits to which from tender age he was addicted, and which, while they sharpened the imagination, went a great way to weaken the power of controlling it. Thus Newman, as years grew upon him, lived daily more and more the life of a visionary, but of a visionary whose aims were always of the loftiest kind. He accepted it as a settled truth, that his calling of God would require from him such a sacrifice as celibacy involved; and though it was long before he could determine what the calling really was, he felt that already he had become separated from the visible world, and that the severance would grow continually more decided.
In due time Mr Newman entered Trinity College, Oxford, where, in 1821, he graduated with high honours. He was soon afterwards elected a Fellow of Oriel, where he formed the acquaintance of Richard Whately, afterwards Archbishop of Dublin. Mr Whately appears to have exercised at first a great and salutary influence over the young enthusiast. He taught him to take interest in things of real life; and when nominated himself, in 1825, to the headship in St Alban Hall, he carried Newman with him in the twofold capacity of vice-principal and tutor.
Singularly plastic-open more than common men to receive impressions
Mr Newman falls in next with Blanco White, and learns from him, as he had already in part learned from Dr Hawkins, the Vicar of St Mary's, to anticipate erelong that attack upon the books and the canon of Scripture amid the din of which we are now living. His faith in revelation is not shaken thereby; but he listens, at first somewhat against his will, to the promulgation of the doctrine of tradition, and by-and-by accepts it in the fullest sense in which it has ever been received by leading men among the High Anglican party. It is not our province at all events we decline, on the present occasion, to act as if it were to decide how much or how little of truth the teaching of that party sets forth. But the lesson itself is this, as Whately equally with Hawkins accepted it, "that the sacred text was never intended to teach doctrine, but only to prove it; and that if we would learn doctrine, we must have recourse to the formularies of the Church,for instance, to the Catechisms and the Creeds."
A man imbued with these sentiments was little likely to feel at ease as a member of the British and Foreign Bible Society; and Mr Newman, though restrained by sentiment from breaking off from it
all at once, ceased to be, what he had heretofore been, active in promoting its operations in Oxford. His next step was to study and to embrace with all his heart the cognate doctrine of the apostolical succession. By-and-by Butler's 'Analogy' attracted his attention, inculcating for him the doctrine that probability is the great guide of life; and introducing him to the question of the logical cogency of faith -a curious theory, on which he has written much and with great eloquence. Already, however, he was beginning to refine to such an extent, that Whately became dissatisfied, almost angry, with him; and Blanco White told him plainly, though in perfect good-humour, that his views were Platonic, not Christian. In a word, that course of speculation was fairly begun which could hardly fail, with a temperament so sensitive as his, to end in one of two results. Either, like Blanco White, he must find himself eventually without faith, without hope-a disbeliever whose unbelief revolted every natural feeling within him; or he must escape from so terrible a doom by the absolute surrender of reason, imagination, will itself, to some authority which he could accept as resistless, and because it was resistless to which he could yield.
Mr Newman was in the very depth of this bewilderment-hesitating as to the fitness of the Athanasian Creed-speaking, and even writing, disdainfully of the Fathers, and not altogether satisfied about the miracles of the early Churchwhen Hurrell Froude (the brother of the historian) and John Keble succeeded in establishing over him the moral ascendency which Whately and Blanco White appear to have lost. Under the guidance of Keble, he who, in 1828, had voted against a petition unfavourable to the repeal of Roman Catholic disabilities, voted, in 1829, against the re-election of Peel, because he had brought a Bill into Parliament for the repeal of these disabilities.
Froude was Newman's junior, yet the sympathy between the men was very great; and Dr Pusey, and Mr Robert Wilberforce, afterwards archdeacon, took likewise kindly to him. No wonder. Apparently shunning, certainly not seeking, the intimacy of his contemporaries, Newman was still so gentle, so refined, so modest, that generous spirits turned to him of their own accord, and he acquired, without apparently being aware of it, enormous influence, especially with the young. This cannot be brought about, however, in any man's case, without sooner or later affecting, for good or ill, the individual who is the object of it. Newman felt his own power-as tutor of his college-as public examiner in the schools-as an essayist whose works were read, pondered, and discussed -as a university preacher; and, by little and little, he assumed his proper place as the real leader of a party within the Church of which he was a minister.
In 1826 there appeared a series of Letters on the Church, by an Episcopalian,' of which the authorship was attributed at the time to Dr Whately, and which he never, as far as we know, subsequently denied. It was a powerful protest against the profanation of Christ's kingdom by that double usurpation, the interference of the Church in temporals, and of the State in spirituals.' The first muttering, this, of that spirit of discontent with the state of public opinion on Church questions, which events were so speedily to swell into a perfect ferment. Newman read the book eagerly- -so did Dr Pusey-so did Keble, Froude, and Wilberforce. It seemed to point to ground which they might occupy in common, and to a great object, for the attainment of which they could, without any sacrifice of individual opinion, labour in common. Byand-by, in the year following, came out 'The Christian Year,' the publication of which seemed to knit the hearts of this little group
together. For it is a curious inci dent in the history which we are tracing, that, long after Newman's election to a fellowship of Oriel, Keble held back from him, disliking, as Newman naïvely expresses it, "the marks which I wore about me of the Evangelical and Liberal school." But now, through the agency of Froude, this coldness was set aside, and schemes for the reawakening in England of a true Church spirit began to be considered. It was the beginning of that movement which resulted byand-by in what came to be called Tractarianism. How Newman received the religious teaching of 'The Christian Year,' we shall best show by letting him speak for himself :
"It is not necessary, and scarcely becoming, to praise a book which has already become one of the classics of the language. When the general tone of religious literature was so nerveless and impotent as it was at that time, Keble struck an original note, and woke up in the hearts of thousands a new music-the music of a school long unknown in England. Nor can I pretend to analyse, in my own instance, the effect of religious teaching so deep, so pure, so beautiful. I have never, till now, tried to do so; yet I think I am intellectual truths which it brought not wrong in saying, that the two main home to me, were the same two which I had learned from Butler, though recast in the creative mind of my new master. The first of these was, what may be called in a large sense of the word, the sacramental system; that of the doctrine that material phenomena are both the types and the instruments of real things unseen-a doctrine which embraces not only what Anglicans as well as Catholics believe about sacraments properly so called, but also the article of The Communion of Saints' in its fulness, and likewise the mysteries of the faith. The connection of this philosophy of religion with what is sometimes called 'Berkeleyism' has been mentioned above. I knew little of Berkeley at this time, except by name, nor have I ever studied him.
"On the second intellectual princould say a great deal if this were the ciple which I gained from Keble I place for it. It runs through very much that I have written, and has
gained for me many hard names. Butler teaches us that probability is the guide of life. The danger of this doctrine, in the case of many minds, is its tendency to destroy in them absolute certainty, leading them to consider every conclusion as doubtful, and resolving truth into an opinion which it is safe to obey or to profess, but not possible to embrace with full internal assent. If this were to be allowed, then the celebrated saying, 'O God, if there be a God, save my soul, if I have a soul,' would be the highest measure of devotion; but who can really pray to a Being about whose existence he is seriously in doubt?
"I considered that Mr Keble met this difficulty by ascribing the firmness of assent which we give to religious doctrine not to the probabilities which introduced it, but to the living power of faith and love which accepted it. In matters of religion, he seemed to say, it is not merely probability which makes us intellectually certain, but probability as it is put to account by faith and love. It is faith and love which give to probability a force which it has not in itself. Faith and love are directed towards an object-in the vision of that object they live; it is that object, received in faith and love, which renders it reasonable to take probability as sufficient for internal conviction. Thus the argument about probability in the matter of religion became an argument from personality, which, in fact, is one form of the argument from authority.
"In illustration, Mr Keble used to quote the words of the psalm-'I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not like to horse and mule, which have no understanding; whose mouths must be held with bit and bridle lest they fall upon thee.' This is the very difference, he used to say, between slaves and friends or children. Friends do not ask for literal commands; but, from their knowledge of the speaker, they understand his half-words, and from love of him they anticipate his wishes. Hence it is that, in his poem for St Bartholomew's Day, he speaks of the 'eye of God's word,' and in the note quotes Mr Miller of Worcester College, who remarks, in his Bampton Lectures, on the special power of Scripture as 'having this eye, like that of a portrait, uniformly fixed upon us, turn where
we will.' The view thus suggested by Mr Keble is brought forward in one of the earliest of the Tracts for the Times.' In No. 8, I say, 'The Gospel
VOL. XCVI.-NO. DLXXXVII.
The sort of mind which the preceding extracts discover is one, we suspect, which Mr Kingsley is constitutionally unable to appreciate, or even to understand. It is cast in a mould entirely different from his. his. Mr Kingsley's writings are familiar to us, and among them all we cannot discover a trace of that yearning, perhaps morbid yearning, after truth, which, in its very intensity, is not unapt to lead the inquirer into error. Mr Kingsley, though he be neither an Anglican nor a Low-Churchman, is as content as either to abide by his own crudities and to call them truths. With him there is no misgivingno doubt. The whole Christian scheme resolves itself into a system of moral fitness, and humanitarianism becomes faith, hope, and charity all in one.
Hence he has no compunctions in speaking harshly of one who has thought more and suffered more than all the school to which Mr Kingsley belongs put together; and who, unless we much mistake matters, has still greater suffering in store, when he shall awake from his present delusion, and discover that rest is not to be found where he sought for and expected to find it.
Mr Newman received Keble's instructions and was grateful for them; but they did not fill up the void of which he was conscious. The reasoning on which they hinged appeared to him forced and illogical, and he endeavoured to improve upon it by suggestions which he threw out in his sermons before the University, in his Essay on Ecclesiastical Miracles, and in his Essay on Development. This latter, however, was not put forth till the force of external things had given accelerated energy to that change which was already begun in him. The repeal of the Test and Corporation
Acts, followed as it was by the passing of the bill for Catholic emancipation, shook the faith of Newman, and of many more, in the political chiefs whom they had heretofore trusted. And the events which came after in rapid succession-the expulsion of Charles X. from the French throne-the death of George IV., and the general election subsequent thereupon the formation of Lord Grey's Ministry, and the course into which its policy ran-these things stirred him, as they did many more, to the uttermost. Who could doubt that the hour was at hand, when, as far as it was possible for statesmen to destroy the Church, the Church was doomed? Had not the Prime Minister, speaking in the House of Lords, warned the Bishops to put their house in order; and could the expression be understood otherwise than the Jewish monarch understood it when applied to him by the prophet-"For thou shalt die, and not live"?
From that hour the knot of thinking men who had heretofore banded together for the elucidation of a purer theology considered it necessary to concentrate their powers upon an object apparently more practical, — viz., to teach their countrymen what the Church was -as a society distinct from a mere establishment,-and thus to insure their adhesion to its discipline and doctrine after it should have been separated from the State. Of that knot Newman was one; but his ideas shot far beyond those of his fellow-labourers. Retaining still his conviction- -a conviction with which the study of Milner first impressed him-that from time to time, and at various epochs, the Holy Spirit has been largely poured out upon the visible Church-he could not doubt that, when the occasion came again, similar outpourings would take place; and that as it had been in former years, so it would be in his own timethe Spirit would choose the fitting
instruments with which to do His own work. It followed, as an almost natural sequence, that Newman should be persuaded of his own election for this work. He says as much in the confessions now before us, and had clearly stated it long ere the tide swept him away, when, first to Dr Wiseman, with whom he became acquainted at Rome, and by-and-by to others, he made use of this expression—“ I have a work to do in England."
"When we took leave of Monsignore Wiseman," he observes, "he had courteously expressed a wish that we might make a second visit to Rome. I said, with great gravity, We have a work to do in England.' I went down at once to Sicily, and the presentiment grew stronger. I struck into the middle of the island. I fell ill of a fever at Leonforte. My servant thought that I was dying, and begged for my last directions. I gave them as he wished; I shall not die, for I have not sinned but I said, I shall not die. I repeated, against light-1 have not sinned against light.' I never have been able to make out at all what I meant.
"I got to Castro-Giovanni, and was laid up there for nearly three weeks. Towards the end of May I set off for Palermo, taking three days for the journey. Before starting for my home on the morning of May 26 or 27, I sat down on my bed and began to sob bitterly. My servant, who had acted as my nurse, asked what ailed me? I could only answer, 'I have a work to do in England.'
Who can doubt that one so fearfully moved was under an influence which, call it what you will-genius, enthusiasm, inspiration, madnessnever comes except upon minds of the highest order? That there was something radically amiss in the constitution of the individual, no faithful son of the Church of England can doubt; yet he must be narrow-minded indeed who can refuse to admit that Newman's zeal was kindred at the time to that of other and greater men who lived and died in God's cause. Would that there had been more of power