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tatingly and utterly condemned them-while many more have looked on with caution and distrust—while many in authority (myself among the number) have felt it their duty to warn those committed to their trust of the possible tendencies of the doctrines in question, they have likewise been exposed to a storm of abuse, as violent as it has been unceasing, to calumnies and misrepresentations of the most wanton and cruel description, and to attacks from the Dissenting and democratic and Infidel portions of the public press, clothed in language which I will not trust myself to characterize, but which, for the sake of our common humanity (I say nothing of Christian charity), it behoves us, as with one voice, to reprobate and condemn. I am not now saying whether these principles deserve the chilling reception they have met with; I am only stating now an admitted fact, that such has been their reception.
“ Again : let us look at the character of the doctrines brought before the public. What has been their attraction? What have they to recommend them to general adoption ? The system in question, instead of being an easy, comfortable form of religion, adapting itself to modern habits and a prurient taste, is uncompromisingly stern and severe, laying the greatest stress on selfdiscipline and self-denial, encouraging fasting and almos-deeds and prayer, to an extent of which the present generation knows nothing; and inculcating a deference to authority, which is wholly opposed to the spirit of the age, and uniformly affording that minute attention to external religion, which our formularies indeed prescribe, but which the world has mostly cast aside as superfluous, or as shackling and interfering with the freedom which it loves. Now such being the character of the religious movement, which has forced itself upon our notice, it must be obvious to every one who thinks at all on the subject, that it has peculiarities about it, which render it unlike anything which has hitherto been observed amongst us. And if this be the case, it is no less obvious, that a system which has grown up under such disadvantages, and which professes, at least, to be that of the ancient Catholic Church, deserves at any rate to be treated with as much of prudence and circumspection as Gamaliel prescribed in a not very dissimilar instance. But this is a sort of forbearance, of which I have seen no sign whatsoever. I do not mean (God forbid !) that if the doctrines of which I am speaking are erroneous, they are not to be exposed and condemned; high and low, rich and poor, are not, in their several stations, to be warned against adopting them. But what I say is this: that error is to be met with argument, not with clamour; and to be answered with faithful care and grave reverence, and firm, though kind reremonstrance, not to be made the subject of rancorous declamation, nor to be treated with the rude, coarse abuse, which party-spirit is sure to elicit from an ill-conditioned mind, and which is as opposite to the tone of Christian condemnation, as darkness is to light. Persecution never has -never will answer its object. There is something in the very constitution of our common nature, which induces men to side with those whom they think unfairly treated. And such I am disposed to think has been the case, with respect to the opinions of which I am speaking. Whether those opinions
are right or wrong, I verily believe that the temper in which their advocates have been assailed, has gained them more adherents than perhaps any other cause. What can have been more lamentable than the tone which (of course I am speaking generally) has been adopted by those who have set themselves, I hope conscientiously, to oppose the opinions in question ? What can be more offensive to Christian charity than to hear men of blameless lives held up to public execration in the newspapers of the day, as the synagogue of Satan,' and branded as heretic, by persons who yet hold back the ground on which they make their charges ? Above all (and I cannot notice without grave reprehension, the conduct of these individuals), what can be more offensive than to see clergymen, ministers of the Gospel of peace, so far forgetting themselves, their duties, and their position, as to appear at public meetings as speakers, and in daily journals as correspondents, whose tone is rather that of personal opposition, than of grave objection to error, and who thereby almost compel us to think that they are lamentably deficient in that spirit, which is ' first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits,' thinking no evil, rejoicing not in iniquity, but rejoicing in the truth ? I would that such would see themselves as they appear to others, and could think of themselves as all good men of whatever party must think of them. I would that they would reflect too with whom they are linking themselves; and whether some of those, with whom they are allied, are not men, whose hearts' desire and ulterior object is the total destruction of our national Church. And more than this: I would they should learn a lesson from the men whose doctrines they repudiate, and whose persons they so bitterly assail. Whatever may have been the errors, whether of doctrine or of judgment (and of these I am not speaking at present), of which the authors of the Tracts for the Times have been guilty, I will say this for them,- that the moderation and forbearance they have shown under insults the most galling and provoking that can be imagined, has been exemplary; and I am glad to avail myself of this public opportunity of expressing my admiration of the meek and Christian spirit they have invariably shown, not rendering railing for railing, and never tempted by the frequent ignorance and often immeasurable inferiority of their adversaries to retort upon them. You will observe, that what I have now said has no reference whatever to the question, how far the doctrines promulgated by the Tract writers are or are not erroneous; but I am desirous now to record my judgment, that granting them to be ever so erroneous, ever so heretical, ever so much to be condemned, they have been dealt with, for the most part, in that spirit of predetermined hostility, which is most apt to confound what is true with what is false, and which, from having so little of Christian charity in it (for charity, while it has no leaning to the error, is lenient to the erring), is on that very ground to be suspected.
“I now proceed, in the discharge of the heavy responsibilities of my office, to offer some remarks and advice on the subject of the opinions of which we have been speaking. Four years ago, when the principles in question were
beginning to spread, men knew not how, and while there was more doubt than at present whereunto they would grow, whether, like fire among the thorns, they would blaze up for the moment and then die away, or whether the flame was kindled among such materials as would give forth no mean light and not be readily extinguished, I took the opportunity to speak freely to you of the good which, in my opinion, had actually resulted from the publication of the Tracts for the Times, and of the tendencies in them which I considered dangerous; and I further stated to you, that my fears arose, for the most part, rather from the disciple than the teacher.”
After remarking upon Tract 90, the Bishop thus speaks of the other Tracts:
“With respect to the other numbers of the work in question, it is obviously impossible to speak otherwise than very generally. No doubt, there are many imperfections in them; the language often is painfully obscure, equivocal, capable of bearing several interpretations, and not rarely it is most unguarded; and all this in addition to there being many statements in them, on which good men will hold conflicting opinions to the end of time. I feel also bound to say, that the authors of the Tracts have seemed to me far too indifferent to the discord and distraction which their actions and their writings have caused; thereby hurrying on a crisis, from the acceleration of which nothing is to be hoped, and everything to be feared. However, as public attention has been, and is so strongly directed to the Tracts, there seems no fear lest any errors in them should remain undetected. God grant, that what there is of error in them may be rendered innocuous, that what is good may be yet further blessed to the Church of God.
“That in spite of their faults, the Tracts for the Times have, from their commencement, exerted a beneficial influence among us in many respects, must, I should think, even their enemies being their judges, be admitted. Their effect even upon those who are not in communion with our Church, the Dissenters and Romanists, has not been immaterial; and within the Church, it is impossible to mark the revival of Church principles which has taken place among us, the increasing desire for unity, the increasing sense of the guilt and evils of schism, the yearning after that discipline which we have so much lost, the more ready and willing obedience to ecclesiastical authority, the greater anxiety to live by the prayer-book, the better observance of the fasts and festivals of the Church, the more decent administration and deeper reverence of her sacraments, growing habits of devotion and self-sacrifice—it is impossible, I say, to see these things and their growth within the last ten years, and not acknowledge that, under God, the authors of the Tracts have been the humble instruments of at least bringing them before men's minds, and of exhibiting in their own lives their practical fruits.”
Dr. Bagot thinks it unfair “ to make the teachers responsible for the proceedings of the disciples, where the latter are now wholly beyond
their control.” The remark is preliminary to a "few words with respect to those who had “excited' his 'fears heretofore, and have since in some instances verified them.” He observes with complacency, that so far as the parochial clergy are concerned, the caution which he gave at his last visitation, with respect to the revival of obsolete practices, has, so far as he has been able to ascertain, been attended to. While he admits, as a matter of course, that questions about vestments and matters of a similar description cannot be raised without much higher principles being involved, he still thinks that, “ in the present age of the Church (and there already such miserable divisions among us with respect to the essentials of religion)" that it is “ worse than folly in those who so far allow their zeal to master their discretion, as to go out of their way to create fresh causes of dissension by giving undue importance to things indifferent, and even of questionable value."
Nor have the zealous Deacon Palmer and the compilers of the "Devotions on the Passion” been overlooked by our Protestant prelate.
“And here I must further observe, that there has appeared to me a lamentable want of judgment, and I cannot but say, of charity and humility too, in the writings of some who of late have come forward as the advocates of Catholic principles. When a man anathematises Protestantism, he may very possibly mean nothing more than that he refers Dissenters to the judgment of God! No doubt it was so in the case to which I allude. But not one man in a thousand will understand this. To the world, who receive the words in their common acceptation, he will seem to be invoking judgment on whatever is not Popish; and I do say, that men ought to pause and consider what they are about, before they use language which is sure to be misinterpreted. Really, the recklessness of the mischief which arises from expressions of this description is quite inexcusable. Further, I must take leave to tell those persons, whoever they may be, that they are doing no good service to the Church of England by their recent publication of manuals of private devotion, extracted from the Breviary and similar sources ; by inserting in them no small portion of highly objectionable matter, and tacitly, if not openly, encouraging young persons to be dissatisfied with what God has given them, and to look on the contents of our admirable Liturgy as insufficient to meet the wants of a Catholic mind.*
"Again : I most strongly deprecate the lone which some, mistaking their position and their duty, have thought fit to adopt with respect to the Reformation and Reformers. No doubt that in some, and these not unimportant respects, as in loss of Church discipline, we suffered in that great convulsion; there was much fearful crime, much iniquitous sacrilege, much done that had better been left undone. So likewise the Reformers were but frail, fallible men, compassed about with many infirmities; sometimes halting (how could
it be otherwise ?) between two opinions, and soinetimes, of course, erring in judgment. Still, we are their debtors to an incalculable amount; and if perhaps we have lost some little through them, or rather in spite of their wishes to the contrary, we have lost far less than our sins deserve; we have even now, through their instrumentality, more blessings within our reach than we care to avail ourselves of; and (I must say it once more), if we were not deficient in humility, we should be so grateful for what they have done, that we might almost perhaps begin to hope, that, in his good time, God would make up to us what hitherto we have been without.”
The Bishop thinks, and thinks truly, that the way in which the Reformation is spoken of, may tend to make some persons “ listen to the suggestions of those who would offer them in communion with the Roman Church, the unity which they long for, and the support of a guide which claims to be infallible.”
“And let no one think that this is an imaginary evil, or that there is no danger at the present time of a secession from our ranks to those of Rome. There is very great danger, very imminent danger; one that it behoves us to look steadily in the face, and be prepared for. I do not mean that I anticipate any defection, my reverend brethren, from those of our own profession; I trust and believe that the clergy generally are too .fully persuaded in their own minds,' that the Church in which they exercise their ministry has all the marks of a branch of the true Church, to make them have a thought or wish beyond it. And I see nothing in a few sad cases which have occurred of late to make me change my opinion. When persons of not very strong minds find that extreme opinions on one side are erroneous, they commonly run into those of an opposite description ; when they have made the discovery that Calvinism is unsafe ground to stand upon, they conclude that Romanism is the only thing which can afford them the sure footing they require. The Puritans believed, that the contradictory of Popery was purity of faith; this of course was a great error, and has been refuted ; but error is multiform, and the danger now is, lest persons who have originally been leaven with Puritanical tenets, should, on finding their error, rush to the other extreme, and take it for granted that what is nearest to Popery is nearest to truth. My fears, however, as I have already observed, are not with respect to the clergy, but to the rising generation. The religious movement of the last ten years has been gradual; those who have most contributed to it, seem rather to have been led on from one opinion to another, than to have seen from the first whither they would advance, or to have started with any definite system. We, therefore my reverend brethren, have had more opportunity to view things calmly and dispassionately. But with respect to young persons, this can hardly be said to be
With all the impetuosity and self-confidence of youth about them, reckless of consequences, and full of exaggerated notions of the right of private judgment, they find themselves in the midst of a controversy, which