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We have quoted this passage at length, because it is as choice a specimen, as the book contains, of the wonderful subtlety and adroitness with which Dr. N. involves, in a golden mist of words, a plain confession that he did, for years, in the Church of England, what he ought not to have done. This passage moreover discloses to us, how he surrendered himself to the unchecked impulse that was taking him steadily to Rome, without being willing to take note, by logic, which was the " record” of the progress that he was making, of the true character of that progress. He was willing to go blindly himself; and did not like to have the eyes of others opened to the logical result of the course in which he was walking himself, and in which he was leading them. If ever a man should have opened his eyes to his position, and to the true character of the work he was doing, it was Dr. N., who was a teacher in the Church of England, who had solemnly assented to her formularies, and was publicly committed to them, but who was, to a great degree, consciously teaching principles which bore against the Church of England, and also semi-consciously teaching such principles, because he turned away in disgust from the logic which would have disclosed to him the true character of that teaching; and when the clearness of the logic administered to him was unmistakable, only suffered himself to be confused, instead of convinced by it,
We think we know somewhat of that state of mind, which Dr. N. describes as existing in himself ; for we have been brought into close contact with a state of mind at least very similar. We speak of the condition of those who, in our Church, are seeking the infallibility to which Rome pretends, and the attractions of her dogmas and her worship, and who suffer themselves to be borne unresistingly upon the tide of Romeward sympathy and longing, on which they have embarked the fortunes of their religious life. Over such persons logic has no power. They can discern the bearing of an argument, but it has lost over them all convincing power; or if it be an argument consonant with their sympathies, yet opposed to their position, it may confuse them, as Dr. N. says he “got simply confused by the very clearness of the logic which was administered to him ;" that he was “bewildered” and “upset,” and so, an easy prey, of course, to that pretentious yet false Church, with whom the whole man, moving towards it as a home, was in sympathy.
This confession of Dr. N. is sufficiently ingenuous, so far as his Romish principles and sympathies, while in the Church of England, are concerned, but it only shows how unjustifiable he was in maintaining a position so long, in which he was professedly acting and working as an Anglican. His aversion to the logic which would have disclosed to him his true position, is certainly remarkable in one who makes such powerful use of logic as he does, who did not scruple to use it, in its subtlest forms, when he wished to defend the allowableness, for an Anglican, of the principles of Tract No. 90, and who expressly says, that he desired to be swayed, not by sympathy, but by reason, when he joined himself to the Church of Rome. And he owed it, moreover, to others, and to the Church of which he was a Priest, to apply the test, or “record” of logic, to the true conclusions which followed from the principles that he was continually preaching.
But the logic, from which he turned in disgust, executed upon him its revenges. He suffered himself to be carried onward by his Romeward sympathies ; but he found, nevertheless, what he considered a logical justification for those sympathies. And in this,—the first logical wrench which detached him from the Church of England,—we see how one who surrenders himself to the power of imagination and sentiment and feeling, may be taken wholly captive by them, and bound in chains, which to himself may seem the bonds of an invincible logic.
And this was the revenge of logic upon the logic-using, logic-detesting Dr. Newman. We have already seen by what clothing of imagination, in the forms of logic, Dr. N. had got rid of the difficulty which he felt in regard to the Romish Devotions to the Virgin and the Saints. And by a similar logical discovery he was led to abandon the Via Media, which had been the bond of his attachment to the Church of England.
We have the account of this wonderful discovery on pp. 155, 156, 157. It is well for Dr. N., in prefacing this account, to say that he is not writing controversially. Was it a secret consciousness of the miserable weakness of the ground which produced his conversion, that led him to make this disclaimer ? Be that as it may, in June, 1839, he
"Began to study and master the history of the Monophysites.” “It was during this course of reading that, for the first time, a doubt came upon me of the tenableness of Anglicanism. I recollect, on the 30th of July, mentioning to a friend whom I had accidentally met, how remarkable the history was; but by the end of August, I was seriously alarmed.”
And what was the occasion of this alarm? We have (p. 156) the account which he "gave in 1850, of his reasonings and feelings in 1839," and here it is.
" It was difficult to make out how the Eutychians or Monophysites were heretics, unless Protestants and Anglicans were heretics also ; [why so? except in Dr. N.'s imagination; surely there is no logic here to demonstrate the resemblance;) difficult to find arguments against the Tridentine Fathers, which did not tell against the Fathers of Chalcedon ;" (why so, again ?] “difficult to condemn the Popes of the sixteenth century without condemning the Popes of the fifth. The drama of religion, and the combat of truth and error, were ever one and the same.
The principles and proceedings of the Church now, were those of the Church then; the principles and proceedings of heretics, were those of Protestants now. I found it so-almost fearfully; there was an awful similitude, more awful, because so silent and unimpassioned, between the dead records of the past and the feverish chronicle of the present. The shadow of the fifth century was on the sixteenth." (Rather the shadow of the Romish Church of the sixteenth was cast by Dr. Newman over the fifth.] " It was like a spirit rising from the troubled waters of the old world, with the shape and lineaments of the
The Church then, as now, might be called peremptory and stern, resolute, overbearing, and relentless; and heretics were shifting, changeable, reserved, and deceitful,” [“- reserved and deceitful!” Compare what Dr. N. says about his course of “reserve” and “perplexity” and “ bewilderment "] "ever courting civil power, and never agreeing together, except by its aid; and the civil power was ever aiming at comprehensions, trying to put the invisible out of view, and substituting expediency for faith. What was the use of continuing the controversy, or defending my position, if, after all, I was forging arguments for Arius or Eutyches, and turning devil's advocate against the much-enduring Athanasius and the majestic Leo? Be my soul with the Saints! and shall I lift up my hand against them ? Sooner may my right hand forget her cunning, and wither outright, as his who once stretched it out against a prophet of God! anathema to a whole tribe of Cranmers, Ridleys, Latimers, and Jewels ! perish the names of Bramhall, Usher, Taylor, Stillingfleet, and Barrow, from the face of the earth, ere I should do aught but fall at their feet in love and
in worship, whose image was continually before my eyes, and whose musical words were ever in my ears and on my tongue !”
This might be taken for the confession of a full-blown Romanist, who discerned no Catholicism but that of Rome; but it is the record of the “reasonings and feelings” of one, who, for six long years after such “reasonings and feelings,” lived and taught and held Orders in the Church of England; but the reasoning which thus tore him from the Church of England, the phantasmagoria by which his soul was so captivated, deserves consideration.
In studying the Monophysite controversy, the wonderful light first broke upon him, that these heretics corresponded to Protestants and Anglicans of times subsequent; and that the Council of Chalcedon, with St. Leo, were simply the representatives of the Church, which, at this day, has its seat in Rome. We do not discern the analogy which struck Dr. N. so forcibly. We enter unfeignedly into his own surprise, at his own new position:
“I saw my face in that mirror, and I was a Monophysite. The Church of the Via Media was in the position of the Oriental Communion, Rome was where she now is ; " [but “Rome” and “the Oriental Communion” were then together in that Council, on the Via Media platform ;] “ and the Protestants were the Eutychians. Of all passages of history, since history has been, who would have thought" (who indeed but John Henry Newman) “of going to the sayings and doings of old Eutyches, that delirus senex, as (I think) Petavius calls him, and to the enormities of the unprincipled Dioscorus, in order to be converted to Rome!'
Dr. N. seems fairly surprised at his own audacity in re-casting, in the moulds of Trent, the history of those ancient Catholics. What are the plain facts of the case ? St. Leo did not pronounce, in that Council, a sentence, which was taken as one of infallible and unquestionable authority. His letter to Flavian was adopted by the Council, as a true exposition of Doctrine, because, tested by the Scriptures and the teaching of the Fathers, it was found to be in accordance with both ancient and Catholic teaching. It was not adopted without examination and discussion. When passages of it were questioned by the Bishops of Illyria and Palestine, they were confirmed by passages from the letter of Cyril; and the accordance of the letter of Leo, with the Faith of Nice and Constantinople, was especially inquired into and asserted. The Council declared the letter to be in agreement with Scriptural and Catholic truth; and they put forth, in addition to it, a Formulary of Faith of their own; and to this formulary they appended, as approved by them, the letter of Leo. Their adoption of it, and the acceptance of their action by the Church, gave it Catholic Authority, and this letter of Leo appealed to the Scriptures, “ to the voices of the prophets, to the Apostolic letters, and to the authority of the Evangelists,” as well as to the Catholic Creed already and of old established, as the grounds of its definitions of Faith and Doctrine.
When the Epistles of Cyril to Nestorius, and to John of Antioch were read, the Council said,
“ Thus do we all believe; thus does the Pope Leo believe. Anathema to him that divides and him that confounds! This is the faith of Leo the Archbishop. Thus does Leo believe. Thus do Leo and Anatolius (Patriarch of Constantinople) believe. Thus do we all believe. As Cyril believed, so do we. Eternal be the memory of Cyril. Agreeably with the epistles of Cyril, do we also think. Thus did we believe. Thus do we now believe. Leo the Archbishop thus thinks, thus believes, thus has written."
And when the Epistle of Leo was read, because he was not present to speak in person, the Bishops, at its conclusion, exclaimed,
“Thus do'we all believe. Thus do the orthodox believe. Anathema to him who does not thus believe! Peter has uttered these words through Leo. Thus have the Apostles taught. Leo has taught truly and piously. Thus has Cyril taught. The teaching of Leo and Cyril is the same. Anathema to him who does not thus believe! This is the true faith. Thus do the orthodox think. This is the faith of the fathers. Why was not this read at Ephesus? This did Dioscorus withhold.”
Most evident is it, that the Council laid no more stress upon the opinion of Leo, than upon that of Anatolius, living, or of Cyril, dead; and the teaching of all was received, because it was the Faith of the Fathers and of the Apostles. There was no such abjuring of antiquity then, as an essential constituent of Catholicity, as Dr. Newman, studying the Monophysite Con