CHAPTER XIX. Roman Controversy and Charges of Romanizing--Tracts on Romanism--On Prayer for the Dead--On Purgatory--Attacks from the 'Record' and 'Christian Observer'--Archdeacon Spooner--Letter to Bishop Bagot. 1836--1837.
IT was in the year 1836 that the controversy on the subject of the claims and position of the Roman Catholic Church again emerged. That such a renewal of ancient strife should take place was inevitable. It was impossible to appeal to Church principles, as the Tractarians had appealed to them in controversy with Latitudinarian and Puritan forms of thought, without being asked the question, How far do you mean to go? For those Church principles were in the main common ground between the Roman and the English Churches. 'We agree with Rome,' said Keble, 'about our major premisses, our differences are about the minor.' This amount of agreement placed the Tractarians between two fires: they were reproached from one quarter with treachery, from another with inconsistency; and they had to show, as well as they could, that they were neither inconsistent nor treacherous; that abstract logic has to take account of the checks which are imposed on it by history; and that the real strength of a position is not to be measured by the assaults to which it may be apparently exposed at the hands of popular controversialists.
In the earlier days of the Movement nothing was heard of the Roman question.
'Romanism,' wrote Pusey, 'in our earlier days, was scarcely heard of among us. . . . It was apparently at a low ebb, and partook of the general listlessness which crept over the Church during the last century. It seemed to present but the skeleton of the right practices which it retained, and helped by its neglect of their spirit to cast reproach upon them. The writer of a work then popular would even speak of it as extinct among us' 'There was in our younger days no visible Church to which to attach ourselves except our own. The Roman communion had in this country but her few scattered sheep, who had adhered to her since the times of Queen Elizabeth. She was herself asleep, and scarcely maintained herself, much less was such as to attract others'.