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The divergence of the movement from the ideals of Anglicanism began to appear in 1841, when Newman published a tract in which he endeavoured to fix the relation of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church to Roman doctrine. This caused a great division among the adherents of the movement, and many who had hitherto been its friends ceased to countenance it. Some even joined in the denunciations which the Evangelicals had from the beginning poured upon its “drift towards Rome.” Newman had been trying to defend the system of what he called “Catholic Truth”—meaning the Catholicism of the Fathers — as a via media between Romanism on the one hand and “popular Protestantism” on the other; but four years more of reflection convinced him that the grounds and reasons for which he accepted the system of “ Catholic Truth” as authoritative required him to accept also the whole system of Papal Catholicism. In 1845 he sought admission into the Church of Rome -a step in which he was followed by a hundred and fifty prominent clergymen and laymen.
Newman's development expresses consistently the real spirit of the Oxford movement. This matter is of much more than merely historical interest : Newman stands for types of thought and feeling which are still strong, and which require to be understood.
One of his most marked characteristics was an inborn reverence for Antiquity — above all, of course, for Christian antiquity. Thus in the Apologia he says, speaking of his thoughts during the year 1832 :
With the Establishment, thus threatened and divided, I contrasted the fresh vigorous power in the first centuries, of which I was reading; . .. I ever kept before me that there was something greater than the Established Church, and that was the Church Catholic and Apostolic, set up from the beginning. He was urging men to study the Fathers, about the time when his brother Francis was beginning a progress away from orthodoxy. There is in history what Renan has called a kind of optical illusion :
The present century is always seen through a cloud of dust raised by the whirl of actual life ; and we can scarcely distinguish, in this whirlwind, the real signs of the time or the heart and mind of the age. This
crowd of transitory interests has vanished from before the Past, which thus appears to us grave, severe, disinterested. Looking at it by means of its books and monuments only—in other words, as manifested in its thought — we are tempted to believe that people did nothing else than think.)
The noise of the street, the stir of the market-place, and all the temporal interests and motives which sometimes ruled its thought, do not come down to posterity. When the men of the future see us, freed from all that disturbing tumult, perhaps they will judge us as many of us judge the Past. Whether this be the reason or not, it is certain that there are many who, like Newman, care nothing for the present when compared with the Past; they try to make themselves merely children of the Past, and sometimes of a Past that is dead. We must try to make ourselves children of a Past that is living, and of a Present that is destined to live.
Newman's religious convictions began to take form in boyhood, and in youth he was a thorough Calvinist. This probably accounts for a vein of austerity in his character,
1 L'Avenir de la Science, ch. iv.
which only became softened down after he joined the Church of Rome. The almost inhuman austerity of many of his utterances in the Parochial and Plain Sermons may be contrasted with the ethical tone of the sermons preached at the Oratory and elsewhere.
Equally important with his reverence for the Past was his feeling of the essential function of dogma in religion. In the Apologia he says :
From the age of fifteen, dogma has been the fundamental principle of my religion; I cannot enter into the idea of any other sort of religion. Religion as a mere sentiment is to me a dream and a mockery.
The justice of the last remark may be fully granted. Religion involves ideas as well as feelings and actions, and in these days the demand is that the ideas shall be far more clearly and thoroughly thought out. There are many to - day who write and speak as if they had forgotten this. It almost seems as if they imagined that religious ideas, religious thought in the proper sense, were of no importance. In some cases this even leads to mistaking
vagueness and confusion of mind for spirituality. In others, the idea seems to be that because certain theological controversies are now extinct, and many venerable doctrines are dying away, we can dispense with doctrine — that is, with appeals to the intellect-altogether. Thus, a recent writer says :
The Trinitarian controversy is passing away, it is ceasing to interest. Subjects such as the spiritual nature of man, the Infinite in the soul, the brotherhood of races, the inherent possibilities of human society, and the everlasting union of the Divine with the human spirit, are vastly more important and urgent than the question of the unity and trinity of Persons in the Godhead.1
Most true, we reply : but are we to come to any definite conclusions on these great questions? If so, how can we do it without thought,—without “doctrine"? Are men, who have reached diametrically opposite conclusions on such matters, to work together in Churches ? If so, for what can they work?
When the same writer goes on to say, “We want more and more, in these days,
1 From a pamphlet by the Rev. E. I. Fripp.