REV. AND DEAR SIR,
I PERCEIVE that you have addressed a letter to me, in your paper of the 25th instant, intended as an answer to my late publication, on the subject of your editorial endorsement of the famous Oxford Tract No. 90, under date of 26th March, which I thought it my duty to present, fairly and fully, to the serious and general consideration of our brethren in the household of Faith. Of course you expect me to reply, if only as a matter of courtesy. But there are higher principles involved in the discussion--the defence of what I hold to be the truth of the Gospel of Christ, and the integrity of his Church in maintaining that truth inviolate. And for the sake of these, I shall cheerfully continue a labor which is sufficiently ungrateful in itself, and for which, it may be, few will thank me.
The prominent points in your epistle seem to be, first, an assault upon my Address to the Church as an act of unauthorized assumption, strongly indicating my desire to be a Pope myself, and to monopolise the right of a universal censorship over the press: secondly, your erroneous statement of the form of your editorial announcement, to which I took exception: and thirdly, your new mode of sustaining your claim for toleration, on behalf of those, who desire to unite the office of our ministry, with the doctrinal opinions of the Church of Rome. To each of these I shall endeavor to reply with the personal kindness which becomes a Christian, and with the plainness of speech which seems best adapted to the occasion.
 To the first topic of your letter, I should not think it worth my while to make any answer, if the subject were not suggestive of other matters, not unworthy of the serious attention of the Church at large. The idea that a bishop exceeds his proper powers in calling the general attention of his brethren to any publication which he believes to be dangerous to the purity and peace of our communion, is too preposterous to require a formal contradiction. For the right assumed by an act like this, is strictly universal. Whether bishop, presbyter, deacon, or layman, every one without exception is authorized to oppose error, according to his best ability. The humblest citizen, on the same ground has a right to call the attention of the public to any matter of common concern. The meanest member of the commonwealth has a right to address the Houses of Congress and the President of the United States. And any man who should undertake to infer, from the exercise of such a right, the desire of the individual to become a King, would argue just as cogently as you do, when you attribute my late publication to my ambition to be a Pope. On what other ground but this, I pray you, do you undertake to be an Editor, and in that capacity put forth your weekly sheet, judging and condemning every one who presumes to differ from you? You say that there is nothing in our canons which gives me this privilege; but is there anything in the canons, or in your ordination as presbyter, that gives you the office of universal censor, which you have exercised unsparingly for so many years, and, full often, most offensively? Have I exhibited a desire to play the Pope by twice addressing myself to the whole Church on matters of universal concern, and have you displayed no determination to play the Pope by an organized censorship over even the whole Court of Bishops, acting collectively, as well as over every individual Bishop whose course you disapproved? For the difference between us is precisely this: that my censorship has been only an occasional and transient exercise of this universal right, called forth by a new and peculiar exigency. While your censorship is a regular business, a stated and constant office, from which, I presume, you have derived a portion of your income, and certainly a wide extent of influence. My censorship has been my own individual act, without adjunct or supporter. Yours has been a systematic combination, including agents, anonymous correspondents, and a long array of [2/3] subordinate instrumentality. If there be any danger in the act of censorship, therefore, either as being hazardous to the liberties of the Church, or as leading to an assumption of inordinate power, where is it to be most apprehended? In your mode of exercising it, or in mine?
But I do not make these remarks, because I am desirous to kind fault with your assumption of the censorial chair. You have a right, in common with every other man, to take the office upon you, and I shall exercise the same right, whenever I have occasion. The only distinction that I can perceive in its exercise is that which involves not the point of right, but the point of duty. And here I think it is obvious that while every man has the right, yet the officers of the Church are under an obligation to exercise it, which rises in proportion with the rank they sustain. If danger from any quarter threatens the nation, for example, every one has the right, to warn, but the President is officially bound to present the subject for general consideration. If danger threatens a State, every one has the right to call the public attention to it, but the governor is obliged to consider it a specific duty. And the confederacy between the several States being such, that danger to one, may become danger to all, each governor and every individual member of the Legislature, extends this duty at their discretion to every question arising either under the general government, or in other States besides their own, and no one has ever yet been so reckless and absurd as to cavil at such action. On the same principle precisely, the Bishops are under the highest obligation to speak openly to the Church of every danger which seems, in their judgment, to menace her peace and prosperity; and you, as a Presbyter, are under a measure of the same obligation, only in an inferior degree. Now all this you understand as well as any man. And therefore, although the thoughtless and inconsiderate may possibly fancy that your assault upon my 'course has some show of plausibility, yet I cannot believe that you are such a witting as to place the slightest confidence in your hypothesis. Your management of the point may stand as a proof of adroitness, if you please. But I should be compelled to doubt your possession of common sense, if I gave you credit for an atom of sincerity.
As to your idea that my occasional censorship can lead towards popery, you must imagine your readers to be simpletons [3/4] indeed, if you expect them to be persuaded into so weak a fallacy. For who does not know that popery grew out of the secular greatness of the bishop of Rome? His city was the mistress of the civilized world, the seat of wealth and pomp and political dominion, and it was these which gave the Church of Rome the high pre-eminence which opened the way for her spiritual supremacy. When, I pray you, did any bishop of a small and insignificant diocese ever dream of lording it over the great metropolitans of the Church? No, my good brother, you know perfectly well that if the spirit of popery is to be looked for anywhere amongst us in our day, it must be in your own pre-eminent emporium, for no where else are the elements which produced it in ancient times to be found so abundantly. New York must be our Rome, if we have any. There are the numbers, there is the wealth, there is the rush of commercial enterprize, there is the conscious pride of power. And there, too, is the strong-hold of Episcopacy in this country. The most gorgeous temples of our worship, the largest congregations, the highest salaries, the general institutions of the Church, the ability to make the most important and constant contributions; all these make your noble city the central point to which the eyes of our whole communion have been long directed; and there is no other in the vast circle of the United States, which can be for a moment compared with it. I need not tell you how all this operates on the hearts of men. I need not tell you how it exalts the city rector above his fellow presbyter from a country parish. I need not tell you that for all the practical importance of their respective stations, the pastor of a large city church feels himself to be more than equal to many of the bishops, who are indeed, superior in the dignity of their official rank, but far inferior in what is too often more sincerely honored, the advantages of local position. And do you really affect to be blind to all this, which is so familiar to every man of ordinary understanding? Have you to learn that the supremacy of your own censorial chair is based upon the very same influence of secular centralization? Do you doubt, for a moment, that "The Churchman" is indebted to the greatness of New York for its extended influence, far more than to the talents or the piety of its Editor, however great these may be supposed to be? Here then, in the pride of conscious secular power, is the soil and the root of popery. The seed of popery, indeed, is the love [4/5] of domination, which is natural to every human heart. But that seed can never grow into a root, unless it has a favorable soil for its development. And therefore, the real, and only possible display of popery which the Church can anticipate, may be expected in that spot, where she is surrounded by all the stimulating elements of secular wealth and splendor.
You will not understand me, I trust, as complaining that such is the true state of this important question. Far from it. In the nature of things, so long as man is man, it must be so. It is the most prevailing characteristic of the human heart to resist authority, while it yields to influence. And hence, although the authority of every priest is the same with that of his brethren, and each bishop is, thus far, on a par with the rest, yet the influence arising from secular superiority will always command, as a general rule, a measure of practical power, against which authority alone can do little or nothing. It is in this very point that the world has proved too strong for the Church, for it has even succeeded in usurping, within the Church herself; the real dominion. "The borrower is servant to the lender," saith the Book of God. The giver, by the same argument, thinks himself entitled to govern the receiver. And the diocese that can lend most largely, and give most liberally, and the clergy who can best control the operation, and the bishop who is placed at their head, will naturally and inevitably feel as if they had a right to the chief government of the Church; and the majority of their brethren, without pausing to analyze the motive, will treat them with a correspondent reverence accordingly. True, indeed, it is, unhappily, that all this resolves itself into the influence of Mammon. True, also, that such an influence is utterly hostile to the spiritual character of Christianity. But it is also true that such has been, for fifteen centuries, the historical aspect of Christendom, and such it still is, and is likely to be, even to the end. To resist it, demands a larger share of discernment and self-denial than is found amongst the great body of any Church on earth. And the individual exceptions are probably not more numerous amongst ourselves, than may be well asserted to prove the rule.
But enough, and more than enough, of this topic, which is always painful and humiliating. Let me pass on to what I have called your erroneous statement of the form in which you brought forward your objectionable endorsement of that dangerous [5/6] perversion of talent, the Oxford Tract No. 90. I shall quote your own words, as before, and then proceed to show whether my language is not justified.
"You have seized upon a passage in The Churchman, and endeavored to fix upon it and its author, the most odious character. The passage was written in the feeling of conscious security, and without fear of ambuscade. 'The Philistines be upon thee, Samson!' is the first notice which I had of my censor's approach; and had the web been as well braided into my hair as it has been artfully woven, destitute of the strength of Samson, I might have been effectually pinioned; but as it is, I shalt easily make my escape, and leave you to admire your web dangling on the pin of the beam."
"The passage itself was a brief and casual reference to Mr. Carey's ordination, and to the controversy which grew out of it. By all the readers of The Churchman, it would be understood in the light which that event and that controversy shed upon it. It avowed a principle which, in connexion with that event and that controversy, was precisely defined, fully stated, and triumphantly vindicated. It referred to the principle involved in that controversy, simply for the purpose of showing that the support which the paper had received in the maintenance of it, was a proof of its hold upon the sympathies and judgments of its readers, and a pledge of its future success. The event and the controversy had passed away, and therefore the reference to it was penned without those explanatory accompaniments which had been often before made, but had become needless from frequent repetition. This passage is eagerly seized upon by you; wrested from its legitimate connexion; brought out in an insulated form to be spread before hundreds who never see the paper in which it appeared; tortured into a sense which I utterly reprobate, and represented by you to be, in this sense, the leading characteristic of the paper."
Now all this amounts in my mind to a complete and manifold misrepresentation. For in the first place, the passage which I quoted was not a "brief and casual reference to Mr. Carey's ordination," but part of a careful and methodical review of your whole editorial course in reference to the Oxford "Tracts for the Times," long anterior to that event, occupying nearly a column of your paper, and immediately following the formal announcement of your new and enlarged issue, under the auspices of a committee, "determined to make a vigorous effort to increase the number of your subscribers," with fresh type, a competent book-keeper, &c. Thus circumstanced, no man of common sense could understand it otherwise than as an editorial, intended [6/7] to justify your past course, and to set it forth as a warrant for your future one. At the close of this, indeed, you did make a passing reference to Mr. Carey, which was "brief and casual" enough; but it did not occur until the latter part of your article, and then occupied but nine lines, the greater portion of which were given to a statement of what you were pleased to call the signal failure of those who opposed his ordination to bring about its condemnation by judicial or synodical action, and the last two lines were devoted to your favorite idea of the martyrdom of the bishop who ordained him; the failure of the one being just as true as the martyrdom of the other.
It was this real aspect of your publication which induced me to transcribe at large your bold avowal of the principle of Tract No. 90, and pass over your slight notice of Mr. Carey. For the principle was the main question, and the application of it to his particular case, was a mere incident, which I had no inclination to dwell upon, looking upon it as a thing which was past and gone. You say that the event and the controversy had passed away." But you know right well that the controversy cannot pass away, so long as you, and others with you, openly avow and defend the principle which gave rise to it. The practical question may arise again and again, year after year, if candidates for Holy Orders are instructed to adopt, on the authority of The Churchman, the fallacious sophistry of Tract No. 90, as the true exponent of our system. The theme of my Address, therefore, was the pith and substance of your whole editorial. I made no remark upon the "brief and casual" reference to Mr. Carey, because it was of no importance. But I confined my argument to the avowed and boasted principle which was the main object of your entire article, because on that principle you praised your own past course; on that principle you predicated your future title to confidence, and even undertook to predict that the whole Church would finally "rally" on the same principle, when "the love of new theories should have subsided," and the "violence of Puritanical reaction" should have passed away.
Here, therefore, you published your determination to stand upon the ground of Tract No. 90, "the principle of which," to use your own language, "was the concession of the right of sub. scribing the 39 Articles to those who embraced the doctrinal matter of the Trent decrees; the views of those whom it was intended to shield were such as were not repugnant to those [7/8] decrees. In other words, the principle of the Tract was the TOLERATION IN OUR COMMUNION of those who were not opposed to the opinions propounded in the doctrinal decrees of Trent; and the VIEWS OF THOSE FOR WHOM TOLERATION WAS CLAIMED WERE SUCH AS WERE RECONCILABLE WITH THOSE OPINIONS." This is the principle which you say you "did not hesitate to adopt," and on this you assert that the whole Church will rally.
Now who has renewed this controversy? Have you not publicly thrown down the gauntlet? Have you not in the very same column, vilified the vast majority of your brethren as "Puritanical," "cowardly distrusters of the truth," "ignorant of the true genius of the Reformation," "lovers of new theories," &c., because they condemned the dangerous sophistry which you boast of having adopted? And is it for you who have obtruded all this offensive matter afresh with such deliberate pertinacity, to talk of being attacked without notice in reply, comparing your situation to that of Samson when Delilah cried out, "The Philistines be upon thee?" Poor Samson!
But in the second place, I hold you to be wittingly disregarding all the evidence of facts, when you proclaim that the principle of your favorite Tract No. 90, has been triumphantly vindicated." When, I pray you, and where, and by whom has it been distinctly avowed amongst our own bishops? Who undertook to advocate it on the floor of the last General Convention, besides one solitary clergymen, and he a recent proselyte from Presbyterianism? What English or Irish bishop has ventured to commend it? And on the other hand, will you deny that a large majority of the bishops of England, Ireland, and our own country, have plainly and directly denounced it? That it produced a division in England even amongst the Oxford party themselves? That it convulsed our own Church with controversy, chiefly through your own means, until it was finally, as was supposed, effectually put down at the Convention of 1844, not so much by any direct vote, as by the almost unanimous voice of disclaimer, followed by the Pastoral Letter of the House of Bishops, which no management can torture into an accordance with the principle? And at this moment, what periodical of the Church is willing to endorse your statement in its favor? What book or pamphlet has been written in defence of this admirable idea, round which the whole Church must, as you tell us, eventually rally? Truly, my good brother, you must have [8/9] very peculiar notions about a "triumphant vindication," if you can discover it in the reception of your darling principle. The most you can say with truth about the matter is, that the Church has endured the nuisance, instead of abating it. But you have probably repeated this assertion so often, that you really think it incontrovertible; and therefore I mean not to dispute your sincerity, although I utterly deny your allegation.
I proceed, however, to the main point, and shall consider your attempt to extricate yourself from the position in which your favorite principle has placed you. And in order that I may do full justice to your argument, I shall premise the following extracts from your letter:
"It is true, Rt. Rev. Sir, that I have pleaded for toleration: but it has been for the toleration of those only who have subscribed, or professed their readiness to subscribe the 39 Articles of our Church in their plain, natural, and grammatical sense, and who, by their compliance with this and all the other provisions with which the Church has guarded the door of admission to her ministry, have given such proofs of integrity and honest devotion to her interests as no human being has a right to question. This, then, is my full and sufficient answer that all those for whose toleration I plead, subscribe the 39 Articles ex animo in their natural and grammatical sense. The Articles are the bulwark which the Church herself has erected against Romanism, and they are the Medusa's head with which I shall petrify you and every other assailant. This is the toleration which the Church allows, and which I advocate in opposition to you and all others who seek to substitute a particular construction of the Articles, in place of the Articles themselves."
"It is true that I have spoken of those for whose toleration I plead, as persons who embraced the doctrinal matter of the Trent decrees; not, you will be pleased to observe, Sir, the decrees, but the doctrinal matter of the decrees: not the doctrine which you connect with them, or for which I may hold them responsible, but still their doctrine in a specific and honest sense, which has been often explained, but to which you have not thought proper to advert."
"It is known to you, Rt. Rev. Sir, and to most readers of The Churchman, though not to the generality of readers whom your "Address" is intended to influence, that the Decrees of Trent, as respects their doctrine, admit of a two-fold construction. They are one thing taken in the letter and interpreted by a partial judgment, and for certain purposes, (as e. g. by good men in both the Roman and Anglican Churches who have labored to realize the visionary hope of reconciling the two communions,) and a very different thing taken in connexion with the opinions and usages in the Roman Communion, and interpreted [9/10] in the light of such opinions and usages. They bear one meaning as exhibited by Roman proselyters to Protestants, and a widely different meaning, as they are actually maintained and taught, and reduced to practice in the Roman Communion. Now it is, as you well know, Rt. Rev. Sir, in and only in the former milder sense, that I have pleaded for the toleration of the Trent doctrine; and that for the very reason that our 39 Articles do not contradict it, and were never intended to contradict it, in the aforesaid milder sense."
"Proofs and illustrations of these opposite aspects of the Trent doctrines, have been frequently given in The Churchman; and the harmony of the milder aspect of this doctrine in reference to the Eucharist, Purgatory, Invocation, Indulgences, &c., with the broadest and most Catholic construction of our Articles allowed by our best divines, has been particularly pointed out in my defence of Mr. Carey's ordination, to which I refer you and others for further satisfaction. There needs here be no other reference to this aspect of the doctrine, than to say that you have not noticed it; but have, on the contrary, taken the exaggerated case of a thorough-going Romanist, holding such Roman doctrines as he believes are contradictory to our Articles, and seeking under cover of our Articles to propagate Romanism, and insidiously prepare the members of our Church for its open profession, and imputed to me the intolerable baseness of wishing to keep such clergymen in our communion, and thus making myself partaker of their abominable errors, and still more abominable hypocrisy."
I believe that the foregoing extracts contain the sum and substance of your justification, and I think a little careful examination will show its insufficiency to any sound and unprejudiced understanding, as well as its inconsistency with the principle of that very Tract No. 90, which you had previously adopted for your own.
For, first, you declare that you ask toleration for the doctrinal opinions of the Roman Council of Trent in favor of those only who subscribe our 39 Articles "in the plain, natural, and grammatical sense." And you rightly say that those Articles are "the bulwark which the Church herself has erected against Romanism." But you know perfectly well that the whole argument of Tract No. 90, runs in quite a different direction. The very object of its author was to refine away the Articles so as to render them, in effect, no bulwark at all. Nay, in the last paragraph of that Tract, Mr. Newman does not hesitate to charge the reformers with intentional ambiguity, for the very purpose of comprehending the body of the nation who had continued to [10/11] adhere to Rome in the early part of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, resting the disgraceful imputation upon a passage from Bishop Burnet, which, fairly considered, rather proves the very contrary. And he illustrates this shameful charge by the following parallel: "A French minister," says he, "desirous of war, nevertheless, as a matter of policy, draws up his State papers in such moderate language, that his successor, who is for peace, can act up to them without compromising his own principles. The world, observing this, has considered it a circumstance for congratulation; as if the former minister, who acted a double part, had been caught in his own snare." And this he applies to the conduct of the admirable men who prepared those Articles which you now call, most truly, "the bulwark against Romanism." Here it gives me pleasure to acknowledge that you speak the language of a true Churchman. Continue to avow and carry out consistently that principle, and demand no toleration for its antagonist, and the main point of our controversy will be taken away; for I ask nothing more of you or any man than that the Articles be considered our BULWARK AGAINST ROMANISM. But this can never be made to consist with Tract No. 90, for there the Reformers are charged with having acted "a double part," intending to include Romanists, so that the Church, instead of having erected a bulwark against Romanism, has only been "caught in her own snare."
But while you appear, in this, disposed to abandon the whole argument of Tract, No. 90, you try to establish your claim for toleration on another ground, which is equally objectionable. For the doctrines of Rome are universally acknowledged to be contained in the decrees of the Council of Trent, only needing the addition of the Council of Florence on the subject of the papacy, to complete her entire system. And you tell us that this system has two aspects, one of which can be made consistent with our Articles, although the other is irreconcilably opposed to them. By this ingenious sophistry, you would have us believe, that although the Articles cannot be made to harmonize with Rome, yet Rome may be made to harmonize with the Articles. So that our BULWARK AGAINST ROMANISM is gone in either way. It vanishes under the mischievous and slanderous imputations of Tract No. 90, by which the Reformers themselves are made double-dealers. And it vanishes by the inverse process of your present argument, where the decrees of Trent become as plastic [11/12] in your hands as the Articles are in Mr. Newman's. By either process, therefore, your favorite result of TOLERATION is equally well secured. The "bulwark" is effectually taken away, whether you bring the Church to agree with Romanism, or Romanism to agree with the Church.
You say, indeed, that "good men," on both sides, have labored in "the visionary hope of reconciling the two communions," and that, according to their mode of representing Romanism, the decrees of Trent bear a very different meaning from that which the Church of Rome affixes to them in her own practical interpretation. Granting all this for the sake of argument, what, I beseech you, has it to do with the question? Is it competent for such visionary enthusiasts to put a sense upon the doctrines of Rome, which Rome herself repudiates; or to put a sense upon our doctrines which the Church repudiates; in the absurd and preposterous expectation of making them agree? And is this perilous and fantastical liberty to be encouraged by your argument for toleration, when the manifest result, so far as it prevails, must be to prostrate what you acknowledge to be a bulwark of protection? "Good men" they may have been, in one sense, if you please, but very bold, very credulous, and very dangerous men, I certainly must consider them; and therefore most unfit to be admitted or openly tolerated in our communion, as I am quite sure they would neither be admitted nor openly tolerated for an instant, on any claim of right, in the communion of the Church of Rome.
You find fault with my Address, however, because I do not advert to the fact that the decrees of Trent admit of this twofold interpretation, the one in harmony with our Articles, and the other irreconcilably hostile to them. And you seem to have quite forgotten that my sole object in that address was to show the perilous character of the principle maintained in Tract No. 90, which you had adopted as your own. Why, then, should I have travelled out of my way to notice the double sense of the Roman doctrines, of which neither the tract itself, nor your own editorial, says a single word? But, in truth, I consider the one hypothesis as dangerous and absurd as the other. I willingly admit, indeed, that there never was a proposition presented to the mind of man, that could not be perverted by the efforts of human sophistry. There never was a law framed by the best professional skill, in which legal subtlety could not find more than one kind of [12/13] interpretation. But does it follow from this that the true sense is not easily ascertained by any honest mind which seeks for the authoritative construction? Or are we at liberty to allow that the decrees of any Church are to be openly set forth as really having different meanings, irreconcilable with each other? Manifestly not. Our Church has sufficiently fixed her interpretation of the 39 Articles, by naming in her canon one author, and only one, on the subject, viz., the well-known work of Bishop Burnet, which our candidates are obliged to study in their preparation for the ministry. Is it competent for you or any other individual to adopt and publicly claim equal toleration for Tract No. 90, which is, in effect, Mr. Newman on the Articles, and which argues for a totally different interpretation? And on the Roman side of the question, you admit that it is impossible for our Articles to agree with the doctrines of Trent, as those doctrines are maintained and taught in the Roman Communion. But who, I beseech you, has a right to affix to them any other meaning than that which is affixed to them by the very Church which framed those decrees, and therefore has the only real authority to expound them? Your present hypothesis, therefore, about this two fold sense of the Roman doctrine, I hold to be utterly absurd and preposterous. An existence it has, I grant, in the speculations of weak or designing men, but authority, analogy, or reason, it never had, nor can have, to justify your bold claim of open toleration. It is an insult to any legislative body to say that its laws are truly liable to two different and opposite meanings. It is an insult to the Church of Rome to say that her decrees have a double sense, which renders them fairly open to contradictory interpretations. And it is a cruel insult to our Reformers, when offered by one of our own body, to say that our Articles were designedly ambiguous in relation to Roman errors, so that any man could claim toleration as well for the sense which agreed with Rome, as for that which was directed against her. Had such been the fact, those distinguished men, to use your own phraseology, must have been either "knaves or fools." Knaves, if they did not design honestly to sustain the principles of that Reformation, of which they had been, under God, the ostensible instruments; or fools, if they did so design, and yet knew not how to express their own meaning.
You say, indeed, that you have furnished in the pages of "The Churchman," in your defence of Mr. Carey's ordination, proofs [13/14] of the harmony of what you call the milder doctrine of Rome, with the Articles of the Church, on the Eucharist, Purgatory, the Invocation of the Virgin and the Saints, Indulgences, &c. But for all this, I can find no gentler term than Oxford delusion. What you professed to give on these subjects I read at the time, with grief and mortification; because it was neither the doctrine of Rome on the one side, nor the doctrine of the Church upon the other. And the only practical effect which it had, or could have, on the minds of those who fully adopted it, was not to bring Romanism one hair's breadth nearer to us than it was before, but to unsettle the true system of the Church, and scatter darkness and doubt, distrust and confusion, around the whole work of the Reformation.
I ought, perhaps, to express my admiration of your coolness in charging me with substituting "a particular construction of the Articles for the Articles themselves." For this, I presume you must have drawn on your imagination. I am not aware that I have ever varied substantially, from the Exposition of Bishop Burnet, which is the only Canonical Text Book recognized by our Church, and I shall be truly glad to learn that you are willing to be content with the same interpretation.
Your intended application of the Articles, in which you say that they are "the Medusa's head," with which you will petrify me "and every other assailant," is simply an amusing specimen of Sophomorical extravagance, which I confess I did not expect from your classical taste, to say nothing of your courtesy, or your compassion. Seriously, however, my good brother, I would advise you to let your flights of rhetoric alone, until you can manage them more skilfully. A little while before, you modestly compared yourself to Samson, and. converted me into a Philistine,--a very Delilah. And now, just after calling the Articles a bulwark, you suddenly transform them into a Medusa's head, from which, I suppose, according to the ancient fable, you are to be taken for another Perseus, and I for the Dragon, since you threaten to convert me into stone. But all this is out of your proper track, believe me. Your forte does not lie in metaphor; and I would recommend you to pursue the plain prose, in which you are really a proficient, even when you have to "make the worse appear the better reason."
I pass over many minor topics in your epistle, as, for example, the distinction between matters of faith and matters of opinion, [14/15] your remarks about the Homily on fasting, &c., because some of them have been sufficiently disposed of in my Address, and the remainder are quite irrelevant to the subject under discussion. Your letter is in no respect an answer to the argument of that Address, first, because you virtually abandon the Tract No. 90, by taking no notice of your own adoption of its principle; secondly, because you make a perfectly new issue, by resting your claim of toleration, not as before, on the ambiguity of the Articles, but on the alleged double sense of the Roman doctrine; and thirdly, because you distinctly avow the true maxim to which Mr. Newman's Tract stands directly opposed, viz.: "the plain, natural and grammatical sense of the Articles, as the bulwark which the Church herself has erected against Romanism." The non-natural sense of which I have spoken as applied to the Tractarian Exposition of our Articles, as you well know, is the very term invented by the school of Dr. Pusey, to describe their own mode of interpreting their subscription. And if ever you shall resume your stand with any consistency on the principle of No. 90, you will be obliged to give up the natural for the non-natural sense of the Articles, just as your leaders have done before you.
You still maintain, however, your claim for open toleration on behalf of those who hold with you the plain and natural sense of the Articles, and only err by thinking that they can bring Romanism to the Church, instead of taking the Church to Rome. And therefore, although your course of argument is changed, I must, as distinctly as before, denounce your conclusion. Your past, present and future attempts to prove that there is any real sense in which the doctrine of Rome concerning the Eucharist, the Invocation of Saints, Purgatory, Indulgences, &c., can be harmonized with our Articles, will always be regarded by me, as in direct hostility to our pure and primitive faith, and full of peril to the honesty, the consistency, and the usefulness of our ministry, as well as to the peace, the unity, and the progress of the Church. In this form, no less than in the other, your claim for such toleration is but another phase of the Tractarian delusion. And I earnestly pray that the grace of God may give you discernment to see, and strength to abandon it, before the flower of your fine abilities and the intellectual vigor of your age shall have passed away.
I have but one remark to add in-reference to the preamble of [15/16] your letter where you say: "We could have wished that the Bishop had congratulated us on the flattering prospect before us, and commended our lay brethren for their readiness to cooperate with us in upholding the principles of the Gospel and the Church." Most gladly will I do so, whenever you find your way back to those principles, as they were maintained by you in the early years of your editorial career, before the illusions of Tractarianism led you astray. As to your co-operators amongst our lay brethren, I have never doubted that they were acting from the purest motives in sustaining you. I believe that you have none but personal friends, amongst the wide circle that know you, as a scholar, an able writer, and an amiable and irreproachable man in all your private relations. Sorry, and ashamed should I feel, if I could not do you ample justice in these respects, and rejoice in your personal prosperity, even at the moment when I am bound, in duty to the Church, to condemn your claim of open toleration for errors which I hold to be of the most dangerous tendency. I have no controversy with you except in so far as you devote your paper and your powers, (unconsciously, it may be, but not the less certainly, in my judgment,) to the influence of Romanism. Cleanse your Editorial labors from this sore infection, reject the scurrilous and scandalous contributions of anonymous correspondents, judge the actions of other men by the same standard which you would have applied to your own, sustain the regular and constituted acts of ecclesiastical authority, and preserve the unity, the dignity and the conservative principles of the Church by the temper and the arguments which the Gospel of Christ and the standards of the Church concur to justify, and I shall bid your future course God speed! with all my heart. I say not this, because I suppose that my encouragement is of any serious importance either to your prospects or your welfare. I know my place to be amongst the least influential of my brethren. But I say it because it is the truth, and for the utterance of the truth, the lowest and the highest are alike responsible before the tribunal of Him, who is no respecter of persons.
With all fraternal kindliness and regard,
Your friend and brother in Christ,
JOHN H. HOPKINS.
BURLINGTON, Vt., May 1, 1846.