Page images
PDF
EPUB

1

trine with which the Tracts opened. They were written with the hope of rousing members of our Church to coinprehend her alarming position, of helping them to realize the fact of the gradual growth, allowance, and establishment of unsound principles in the management of her internal concerns; and, having this object, they spontaneously used the language of alarm and complaint. They were written, as a man might give notice of a fire or inundation, to startle all who heard him, with only so much of doctrine and argument as might be necessary to account for their publication, or might answer more obvious objections to the views therein advocated.

This peculiarity in their composition has occasioned them to be censured as intemperate and violent. If this be true in such 'sense that they discover any personal feeling, bitterness, wrath, want of candour, unkindness, or reviling, of course nothing can be said in their defence. Or if they contain an extravagant doctrine, crudely imagined, confusedly or hastily expressed, and unsanctioned by our standard Divines, then, too, they are entitled to very little respect. But if the charge of intemperance simply means that they contain strong expressions upon high and delicate matters, suddenly introduced, unexplained, and therefore obscure and harsh, though not intrinsically erroneous, then by intemperance is meant nothing else than want of judgment. Want of judgment, however, is commonly imputed to proceedings which tend to defeat their object, though allowable in themselves, and based upon true principles; and if so, the style of the Tracts in question is not injudicious, for their object has not been defeated. Naked statements, which offend the accurate and cautious, are necessary upon occasions to infuse seriousness into the indifferent.

These are the reasons, whether satisfactory or not in the judgment of others, for the style and manner of the earlier Tracts. When, however, from the circumstances of the times or from other causes, more interest seemed to be excited among Churchmen concerning those doctrines which it was their object to enforce, discussion became more seasonable than the simple statements of doctrine with which the series began; and their character accordingly changed.

It would be unbecoming to go into this detail in this place, were not a prejudice entertained against these Tracts by many who know them only by a few detached sentences, complete indeed in themselves, and on the whole not unfairly selected, but which, so detached, will not be understood in their true sense and bearings by readers unacquainted with the language of our old divinity. Dr. Pusey's valuable Pamphlet in answer to one objector, is, with the kind consent of the Author, appended to this Advertisement.

OXFORD,
The Feast of All Saints, 1836.

[ocr errors][merged small]

NOTE TO THE ADVERTISEMENT.

The following is Dr. Puser's answer to an Anonymous Pamphlet, reflecting on these Tracts, which appeared in the end of March 1836. The Pamphlet professed to be a “ Pastoral Epistle from the Pope to some Members of the University of Oxford.” Dr. Pusey's answer was entitled “ An Earnest Remonstrance to the Author of the Pope's Letter," &c. Tract 74 was added to it as an Appendix. Two extracts have been added by the Author in the second reprint.

SIR-Two reasons induce me to appeal to you, in reference to your recent Letter: First, that I have escaped your censures : Secondly, that (if report speaks right) you are one from whose straight-forwardness, sincerity, and love of truth, I once anticipated much. In both ways, therefore, I am freed from the risk of personal feelings.

I would, then, regard you as the representative of a certain class (as every one is, more or less); and would direct my observations to an evil prevalent in these times, not to you. That evil (and there could scarcely be a greater) is the use of banter and jest in things serious. It is true that the minds of a large portion of our countrymen seem to have become so inured to this, that persons have even despaired of addressing them, except in a tone even lower than that low tone to which they have sunk. It is true, that even among the better-instructed orders, persons, in their degree serious-minded, have often thought themselves obliged to condescend to the conventional language of the day, as their only

VOL. III.-77.

a

hope to gain a hearing. It is true, also, that the appetite has grown with its unwholesome nourishment; and now, as by a self-created necessity, all seem to be absorbed into the tide ; and it is rare to find any cause advocated in the plain, open, straightforward tone which was once the characteristic of our land. Not simply our periodical literature, or our journals, but our courts of law, and that branch of the legislature which is liable to be affected by popular taste, are infected by the mal-aria of this destructive habit. Man's happiness, or God's displeasure, domestic misery or national sin, are continually a jest. Adultery, fornication, theft, drunkenness, lying, are daily matters of sport. If justice is to be perverted, men's minds blinded, sin to escape unpunished, a jest is the refuge ; caricatures are the vehicles of public instruction, and “ a mock at sin ” the source of public amusement.

It is indeed strange, and a lamentable part of this sad merriment, that many right-minded people are so little sickened at it, or so little express their weariness. But so it is with every other prevailing sin; those who live amidst it are, in their several degrees, infected by it; the fineness of our moral perceptions is blunted by the very acquaintance with sin, all mention whereof we at first loathied ; our ears become untuned to the chords of Heaven, by listening constantly to the jarring sounds of earth, and are less offended by their discordancy. Most men feel themselves compelled to an over-acquaintance with the things of the day, and so are insensibly inured to its wretchedness, and deem it irremediable. They are indeed mistaken; the more earnest spirit is not fled: it sleeps only, or rather is drugged by these continued poisonous appliances ; and brighter days may yet come, when our countrymen shall again be spoken to, not as members of a vast machine, or as the slaves of temporal interests, but as responsible immortal agents, as Christians, as members of Christ the Son of God.

It is one consolation, that if all our outward privileges, yea, every thing except truth, be lost, then the temptation of ap

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »