RECTOR OF BELBROUGHTON,
LATE FELLOW AND TUTOR OF ST. JOHN'S COLLEGE, OXFORD.
G. F. AND J. RIVINGTON, LONDON.
THE contest for the office of Professor of Poetry in the University of Oxford has now for some time been assuming an aspect which cannot fail to cause sincere pain to every true member of the Church and the University.
With a view to obviate the evils likely to result from this, it has been proposed by some that both candidates should be withdrawn, and some other put forward on whose fitness for the office all parties might be agreed. This step, however, it is now decided authoritatively, will not be taken; and though at an earlier period I was disposed to think such a measure advisable, yet, on reviewing all the circumstances, I much question whether it would now answer the end proposed.
Since, therefore, it is now determined
That the context shall proceed, it is most important that the true merits of the question at issue should be rightly understood, which, from the various misrepresentations which have been put forth, does not appear to be the case; and that those members of the University on either side who may be more properly said to represent the University and to constitute its tone, should rightly understand their position in relation to a third party, with whom their connection is comparatively slight, but to whom the present excitement and display of party spirit, which we have all so much reason to deplore, is almost exclusively to be attributed.
It is unnecessary for me to remark that the objections [3/4] against Mr. Williams are founded mainly on a work of which he is the author, entitled "Reserve in Communicating Religious Knowledge," in a series of publications called "Tracts for the Times," in which work he is alleged to have advanced positions and to have made statements such as to preclude those who are attached to the Church from affording him their support.
Now I must here remark, that deeply as I regret the spirit which has been thus infused into this contest, I do not agree with those who deem considerations of this kind to be irrelevant to the question before us. For though the office now sought is apparently of a secular nature, yet I cannot agree that theological considerations are to be excluded, in estimating the qualifications of those who may be proposed to fill it. Least of all can we in Oxford so maintain, with whom a religious bias forms the very basis of our system of education, with whom it forms an essential condition of thought, entering into all the subjects taught among us, and in order to effect which, among other reasons, subscription to the XXXIX Articles constitutes the condition of our membership in the first instance, as well as of each successive step in our academical rank: only in these cases let us ascertain what the qualifications of candidates, thus considered, really are. For we well know that much than is necessary to determine this, much that is irrelevant to put forth and painful to hear, is bandied about in contested elections. This is deeply to be deplored in all cases, but especially in a body of the grave and responsible character of the University. And therefore while it is most important that we should vindicate ourselves even from the appearance of using those low carnal weapons of dishonourable rivalry, or of sanctioning it in others, it is a great consolation to find that the use of them has been mainly if not exclusively confined to one party, and that an extreme one, and for the most part non-[4/5]resident, with whom the great bulk of our members have little or no affinity, but by whom on the contrary they have hitherto been usually condemned in no measured terms, as betraying the most sacred trusts; and to whom the chief portion of members on that side to which this party have on this occasion (as it would seem unsought) attached themselves, are no less opposed on every other question; though now it so happens the latter have claimed a sort of fellowship and made a common cause, from their having, perhaps for the first time in their lives, a common object, though pursued on grounds of the most opposite character.
While therefore I fully admit that, in a system of education like ours, theological considerations must more or less have weight (as they ought) in questions like that now before us, let us be the more careful that we are sure of the ground on which we proceed, and that nothing is alleged either for or against any candidate which cannot be proved to be substantially true.
In matters of this nature it cannot be expected that the majority of persons will have had time and opportunity to form their judgment from their own personal reading, but that, as in political matters, they will be guided by those whom they deem to be competent judges of such questions, on whom they can place reliance, and form their opinions accordingly. This is unavoidable in human affairs: to form a deliberate judgment from personal observation alone, is incompatible with the occupations and consequent demands upon the time of the many. One evil however which results from this, is the advantage which it appears to afford to those who are most active and unscrupulous in misrepresentation. A striking instance of this is seen in the course pursued by the extreme democratic party, as distinguished from the constitutional or conservative one. The falsehood and misrepresentations [5/6] resorted to by the former are familiar to every one; and it has been a matter of regret with many, that their opponents have so seldom, in comparison, condescended to notice them or offer any reply; and the more so, because, with the multitude, silence under a charge is often construed into an admission of its truth; and though the truth, will ultimately be known and prevail, yet meanwhile, the object, of the misrepresentation is attained, and the mischief done perhaps beyond the possibility of repair. I am not concerned now to shew whether this course is wise or expedient, but it is unquestionably suggested by a consciousness of rectitude, and of the innate strength and justice of a cause.
The case is very similar in regard to the work now under consideration, and the misrepresentations put forth respecting it. I confess that, till very recently, I was one of that large class who had not read it, though I was aware of its general scope and object. I was aware that much had been alleged against it, and was perhaps, like many others, more familiar with the latter than with the work itself: but considering the quarter whence these allegations for the most part proceeded, I did not consider them worthy of much consideration; and I attributed it to the like feeling, and not to any admission of their truth, that the author had not noticed them or offered any reply; analogous to the case I have just mentioned, in regard to the political parties alluded to.
Within the last few days, however, I have felt it my duty to read this Treatise on Reserve. The reasons which have led me to feel thus, are mainly the grave and deliberate charges brought against it by more than one Bishop; and more particularly, in reference to the present contest, the following serious charge put forth and published by Lord Ashley, the chairman of Mr. Garbett's London Committee. His Lordship writes as follows:
 "I have endeavoured, then, to ascertain the principles of Mr. Williams, and I have found that he is the author of the tract entitled Reserve in Communicating Religious Knowledge. There is no power on earth that shall induce me to assist in elevating the writer of that paper to the station of a public teacher. I see very little difference between a man who promulgates false doctrines and him who suppresses the true. I cannot concur in the approval of a candidate whose writings are in contravention of the inspired Apostle, and reverse his holy exultation that he had not shunned to declare to his hearers the whole counsel of God. I will not consent to give my support, however humble, towards the recognition of exoteric and esoteric doctrines in the Church of England, to obscure the perspicuity of the Gospel by the philosophy of Paganism, and make the places set apart for the ministration of the preacher, whose duties must mainly be among the poor, the wayfaring, and the simple, as mysterious and incomprehensible as the grove of Eleusis."
I must confess I was somewhat staggered at this letter of Lord Ashley's, viewed in connection with the circumstance that he was Chairman of Mr. Garbett's London Committee. I was indeed aware that he belonged to that party in the Church, to whose system the principle developed in the tracts in question was chiefly opposed; that in fact he might be considered (I am far from meaning it offensively) one of the lay leaders of that party, being the Chairman at many of their public meetings. At the same time I felt that, whatever his Lordship might say or do as an individual, yet considered as the Chairman of one of the candidates in an election with reference to which this letter was written, (though not written or signed as Chairman,) more importance should be attached to it than to that of any private individual. I thought that in a [7/8] document which might be considered as it were official, Lord Ashley would hardly bring such a charge against the author of a work which he had not read; and that if he had read it, he could not, as a man of ability, which he unquestionably is, attribute to it a meaning or impute sentiments it did not clearly convey. I was therefore determined to read the Tracts themselves, for I felt that if this representation of them were a just one, I could not vote for Mr. Williams. And here I may observe, that among the various persons who have united in condemning these Tracts, I have scarcely been able to meet with one who, on being closely pressed, could admit that he had read them. All I have been able to discover was that they had gathered their information and their opinions from the kind of censure before spoken of, or from certain periodicals and public journals; and knowing that, of the former, many were for the most part leading members of the party against whom the Tracts were directed, while most of the latter were the organs either of the most profane and virulent Sectarianism, or of the worst kind of Erastianism, my suspicions were the more confirmed that the charges could not be sustained.
Here however let me observe that whatever I have said or may say, is not intended to reflect in the most remote degree on Mr. Garbett, his College who have brought him forward, or his friends who support him on personal grounds. It is most important to separate them from the class of supporters to whom these remarks refer. Whatever the latter may do, they are not to be considered responsible for. As regards the Principal of his College, in particular, I would take this opportunity of bearing testimony to his justice and impartiality; and as Vice-Chancellor he on all occasions shewed himself above party considerations, and always had the manliness to discountenance the spirit of proscription which many persons would [8/9] now introduce, to exclude from University offices those who hold stricter and more Catholic views than the latitudinarian principles of the day. Mr. Garbett, as far as I can see, has not been put forward as the opponent of Mr. Williams on theological grounds, nor as representing any particular set of opinions. Those who support him on such grounds, apart from his personal qualifications, would appear to do so as the opponent of Mr. Williams, rather than with reference to his own opinions. It is therefore only just to separate him from them. It is not the object of these remarks to institute any comparison between the two candidates; he comes forward on fair personal claims, furnished by a due share of academical distinctions, and the duties of honourable situations in the University faithfully discharged. So doubtless feel all those who tender him their support on these grounds; nor need there have been in this ease, as far as the two candidates are concerned, or the chief part of their friends in the University, any thing inconsistent with honourable and generous rivalry. To those therefore who so support them, these remarks in no way apply: but if any have been induced either to oppose Mr. Williams or to remain neutral, who would otherwise not have done so by the charges brought against his Tracts on Reserve, I would respectfully entreat such to allow me to call their attention to the object and principle of these Tracts, and not to be led away by the misrepresentations of those who on every other occasion take part against them, and are ready to denounce them as not preaching the Gospel, and as shunning to declare the whole counsel of God, on the same grounds on which they bring the same charge against Mr. Williams.
The principle developed and established in these Tracts is directed against a religious system which is chiefly adopted by the majority of Dissenters, and also certain within the Church, whose doctrines and sympathies, though nominally [9/10] within the Church and many of them exercising spiritual Junctions in it, are almost wholly on the side of Dissent. The chief characteristics of this system may be said to be the following:--Instead of the whole counsel of God, as revealed in Scripture--instead of the whole body of doctrine, as held by the Church in its various proportions, and as exhibited in the Prayer Book, to take one doctrine, and a part only of this, as a centre around which to form a human system, and to give an undue (relative) prominence to this one, to the exclusion of others with which it is always either preceded or accompanied in Holy Scripture. The doctrine thus selected is that of the Atonement, which is made the beginning, middle, and end of all their teaching, disjoined entirely from the future judgment, repentance, humility, self-denial, mortification, in fact all practical obedience; and this not from oversight, as it seems, but as a principle, as though to enjoin or practise them were to lay a burden on men's shoulders, and to impose a law utterly at variance with the free grace of the Gospel. Likewise to urge this doctrine, not only without these adjuncts, but without any regard to the circumstances or condition of the persons addressed, urging it alike on the repentant and impenitent--the bruised reed and hardened rock--the religiously-disposed and worldly-minded; as though it were the first, and last, and only truth, requiring no preparation of the heart to receive it with, profit, if not without danger, no previous conviction of sin, whereby its transcendent value and blessedness might be duly felt, without mention of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, placing feeling before faith, or rather as a substitute for it; virtually discountenancing that practical holiness which is at once its fruit and the evidence of its acceptance in. the heart. "This one thing it puts in the place of all the principles held by the Church Catholic, dropping all proportion of the faith: it disparages com-[10/11]paratively, nay in some cases has even blasphemed, the most blessed Sacraments. It is jealously afraid of Church authority, of fasting and mortification being recommended, of works of holiness being insisted on, of the doctrine of the universal judgment. It is marked by an unreserved discourse on the holiest subjects." (Tract 87, p. 48.)
"The effect of Christian good works is treated as having a tendency to puff us up with pride and selfishness; works, that is of humility and charity, exercised in secret, purely with the desire of pleasing God, for of course such only are good works which could be insisted on (though of course what they mean must be bad works, those of hypocrisy). Or, again, that religious services weaken our dependence on the good Spirit; or, in other words, that frequent and constant prayers to God for His assistance, diminish our reliance on God. Or, again, that the deep and awful sense of judgment to come derogates from Christ's Atonement, as if the most earnest consideration of the former did not impress the unspeakable truth of the latter. Or again, that to insist on the value of the Sacraments, is to derogate from Christ; for when it is considered that there is no value whatever supposed in these Sacraments excepting from Christ's presence in them, and His atoning blood communicated through them, this is precisely the same as if the same charge were brought against attaching too high a value to the Holy Scripture; for it might be said that we put the Scripture in the place of Christ." (No. 87, p. 57.)
I would not be supposed to judge harshly or uncharitably of the advocates of this modern system. I give them full credit for sincerity and zeal. I admit that, at no very distant period, the doctrine of the Atonement was not put forward with sufficient prominence in public teaching in our Church, (though not on the principle contended for in these [11/12] Tracts,) which may in some degree serve to account, on the common principle of reaction, for the undue relative importance now given to it without regard to the harmonious adjustment of the whole body of Christian doctrine. The fact is, that the Gospel addresses itself to every part of our moral nature, to our hopes, our fears, our love, our gratitude, and the like; and as these feelings severally predominate in different degrees in different, persons, according as we are severally constituted, so with those persons who have not been trained by the teaching and discipline of the Church to perceive the Gospel in all its fulness, those portions of Scripture, will assume a greater prominence winch are most in accordance with their respective predominant feeling, and strike that chord to which their religious sympathies would seem more immediately to respond; and to the less devoutly disposed, those portions which would seem to impose the least self-denial. All this is perfectly natural, and what we must more or less expect: but it is not for that reason the less dangerous, nor the less destructive of truth. In the Prayer Book, which of all human instruments is our best guide and safeguard in this respect, these several features of doctrine are preserved in their due proportion, no one part being placed in undue prominence, to the exclusion or prejudice of the others: where confession, humility, repentance, obedience, self-denial on our part, and judgment and mercy on God's part, are alike brought before us in the holy round of service, with due regard to the importance of each; and so far only as we follow the principle exhibited to us in this invaluable guide, shall we avoid the error and danger of assigning to any one portion of the Divine scheme an undue prominence, (I speak of course in comparison only,) to the prejudice or suppression of others.
And yet this spurious modern system of which I am speaking is held up by its advocates not only as being, par [12/13] excellence, the preaching of the Gospel, but as being the only system which may be justly said to do so. This they term preaching Christ Crucified; and from this, as is familiar to every one, they have appropriated to themselves and to their system exclusively, the title of Evangelical. And moreover, which is more to the point as regards the present question, they have been accustomed to speak of the great bulk of the Bishops and Clergy as not preaching the Gospel, because they do not adopt their views, nor use the doctrine of Atonement as themselves do. Moreover, some of them, as though conscious that the Prayer Book, as well as our Ecclesiastical system generally, is a standing memorial and living witness against their system, have not been slow to speak of them as savouring too much of Popery, and not sufficiently purified from Romish errors, and requiring the (so called) principles of the Reformation to be more fully carried out in their revision.
To an impartial observer, this modern system would primâ facie present a strong presumption against itself, from its acceptableness to the multitude. We are told in Scripture that the doctrine of the Cross is an offence and a stumbling-block; whereas, on the contrary, this system is extremely popular and attractive. Now there is nothing in the religious aspect of our times to warrant the notion that either human nature or the state of society is so changed as to reverse the Apostle's declaration of the distastefulness of the Gospel to the world. Yet this system would seem to make it otherwise: so that the alternative forces itself upon us, either that this system is not the Gospel of which the Apostle spoke, or else that the Gospel has ceased to be a stumbling-block and foolishness. A ready solution to the question, however, is furnished by the fact, that in this system only a portion of the Gospel is put forward, and that the most attractive portion, without those other parts of the Divine scheme from which it never can be [13/14] separated with impunity. Hence it is that we find it the most popular in places where we should least of all expect to find the preaching of the Cross acceptable, such as places of fashionable resort, and the like, where worldly-mindedness would certainly not be supposed to be less predominant, or to offer fewer obstacles to its being received than in other places. The doctrine of Christ Crucified is inseparably connected with our own moral crucifixion, repentance, humility, obedience, self-denial, mortification, the daily taking of our Cross and following Him--denying ourselves something for His sake. Separated from these, there is nothing to surprise us in the fact that the doctrine (so called) should recommend itself to the worldly-minded and anti-nomian, while the self-indulgent see in it, nothing which calls for any personal sacrifice on their part.
Another feature in the system of which I have been speaking, which requires to be briefly mentioned in reference to these two Tracts, consists in a want of reverence, and reserve in speaking of sacred things, a tendency to obtrude them on all occasions, as though they could never be out of time, or place. Not as though they spoke of them necessarily in irreverent language--the irreverence consisting in their being brought forward in the mode and at the times referred to. So that to sum up the, whole of what has been said thus far, we may observe that the peculiarities of the system against which these Tracts are directed, are mainly those two: first, an undue (in comparison) prominence given to one doctrine of the Gospel to the (comparative) suppression of the others, from which it is never separated in Scripture--a want of reserve, in fact, in the mode of teaching it; secondly, a want of reserve in the mode and times of speaking of sacred things.
I have spent some little time in this statement, in order to a better understanding of the scope and more immediate object of the Tracts on Reserve, as well as to account more [14/15] easily and satisfactorily for the hostility which they appear to have called forth. And in doing so, I trust I have not transgressed the bounds either of truth or charity. I have been anxious to state the case as it is, and as it presents itself to our eyes; and as it is farthest from my wish, so neither am I aware, that I have said any thing which may be construed into an imputation of motives to the advocates of this system spoken of, or an insinuation that they are otherwise than sincere (so far as sincerity is in any way an excuse for error) in the principle they maintain.
Looking however to the system as it has been described, it would require no great power of forethought to anticipate the reception which any work would meet with, the avowed object of which was to expose its unsoundness and its un-scriptural character. In a series of publications professing, in their very title, to have regard to the times and the errors peculiar to it, was it likely that one of this character and magnitude should be overlooked? Is the reception which the notice of it has met with other than might have been expected? If we knew nothing further than that such a work had been written, it would have been sufficient to make us receive with caution whatever is alleged against it. And when we come to examine the work itself, we shall not be surprised if the hostility it has called forth exceeds even what might have been expected antecedently. One would imagine, from what has been alleged against these Tracts, that their author was for denying religious instruction to the multitude, purposely keeping them in ignorance, and shunning to declare to them the "whole counsel of God." And here I may mention it as a curious circumstance, that these last words have been the form which all those who have taken upon themselves to condemn these Tracts, have selected for the purpose of expressing their accusation and their censure. It is, I say, a curious circumstance, and one illustrative of [15/16] the deceitfulness of the human heart, because it is this very practice of this party, as mentioned above, viz., that in their public teaching they do not declare the whole counsel of God, which appears to have called forth these two Tracts. We must not be misled by mere names and words. If one doctrine has had an undue prominence assigned to it, or an irreverential use and mention made of it, the principle which would restore its Scriptural relation to the other doctrines in the one instance, or throw a veil around it in the other, whether expressed by the term reserve or any other of like import, must be viewed in relation to the evils it is designed to counteract. "We do not lower the doctrine of the Atonement," says the Tract in question, "but heighten and exalt it, and all we say is that it should be looked upon with reverential holiness. "If it is the name of RESERVE only which is objectionable, then let the substance of this article be expressed by any other which may be found equally to serve the purpose, whether it be forbearance, or reverence, or seriousness, or religious caution, as long as the full intention of it is equally preserved." (No. 87, p. 40.) Again, "And let it be remembered that the whole of this treatise is, under another name, on the subject of irreverence; but as reverential words, or a reverential demeanour, may "be but a specious irreverence and hypocrisy, this sacred reserve seems a better designation." * * * "This irreverence is more especially to be guarded against in all our approaches to God, and our imperfect mode of serving Him. We must remember that one of the Ten Commandments refers to it, which is expressed in more awful terms than any other, viz., that we take not that awful name in vain, the meaning of which is not to be limited to open profaneness, but must be as extensive in its intentions as all the other Commandments. It is "to be observed, again, that the first petition in the Lord's [16/17] Prayer seems to be for this reverence of mind, as the first thing to be obtained in nil acts of devotion--a prayer that God's name may be hallowed: the efficacy of our prayers depending on the reverential regard we have for that dreadful Name. And the last clause in the same prayer is an act or expression of reverence." (p. 116.)
Let me now state briefly the manner in which Mr. Williams has treated the subject; for on this must in a great measure depend the justice of the charges brought against his work, however false and unreasonable may be the system against which it is directed. Although other arguments have been adduced, yet the main principle itself is made to rest on Scriptural grounds, the former being used collaterally and as subservient to it. This is important to observe, because the advocates of the system to which it is opposed, assume to themselves the exclusive authority and sanction of Scripture, as the name by which they designate themselves also implies.
This work then consists in the developement and illustration of an important principle, which is uniformly to be traced in all God's dealings with men, whether as exhibited in Holy Scripture or in His moral government; which principle is this: that the degree in which He manifests Himself to us is determined and regulated by our fitness to receive such knowledge; that it is made to depend on our degree of faith, our spiritual progress, and the use we have made of previous advantages and communications of His will; that if this knowledge is withheld, it is on account of our unfitness to receive it, and this, it would seem, as an act of mercy as much as of judgment, from the danger we should incur from receiving it in vain, and from being unable or unwilling to fulfil the responsibility which the possession of such knowledge involves. That [17/18] this supposes no unwillingness on His part to communicate this heavenly knowledge in itself; but that its communication is impeded by our incapacity to receive it.
It is not intended to speak of it as a mark of judicial punishment, nor as denoting the anger of the Almighty, nor us connected in any way with intellectual acuteness: but, if I may so speak with reverence, I would say, that there appears in God's manifestations of Himself to mankind, in conjunction with an exceeding desire to communicate that knowledge, a tendency to conceal, and throw a veil over it, as if it were injurious to us unless we were of a certain disposition to receive it. (p. 1.)
The principle may be otherwise stated to be involved in the following texts, and the Tracts an expansion and fuller developement of the same:--"Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have abundance, but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath." "Give not that which is holy to the dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine." "He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him," and, "If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine," &e. These two last quoted are especially to be noticed, because the remedy particularly insisted on as calculated to remove the unfitness which is said to disqualify us for receiving Divine truth, is obedience.
Such being the principle asserted in the Tracts, the author adduces the following proofs in support of it. The general historic narrative of our Lord's early life and of His resurrection, the way in which they appear to have been kept back, so to speak, from the gaze of the multitude,--
There is something in the thought of our Saviour's being for thirty years among men, not known and not believed on, even by those about Him, and the witnesses of His early life, [18/19] very remarkable and awful. [The same idea is admirably expanded and followed out in one of Mr. Newman's Sermons, (vol. iv.) "Christ hidden from the World."] And the great pledge and seal of the truth of the Gospel, the Resurrection itself, seems in such a striking manner to have been kept back, if I may so speak, from the gaze of the multitude, from the broad light of the common day. Its great manifestations break forth, as if indistinctly, and according to the great need of certain persons, the watchful and weeping Mary, then the penitent Peter, then (the perhaps aged) Cleopas. (p. 5.)
His expression, by which He attributes their not understanding His words to some moral, not intellectual deficiency, "Perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your hearts yet hardened?" In like manner, Matt. xvi. 9, xiii. 23, xv. 15, Mark viii. 21.
All of which instances are examples in various degrees of persons "who hear the word of the kingdom and understand it not;" and which. I would adduce as shewing that the want of comprehension was indeed a fault in the moral understanding of the hearer; on which supposition alone is grounded the argument of the, Truth not being fully manifested by our Lord. (p. 8.)
His teaching by parables, which in the Old Testament, as well as in the New, are referred to as denoting obscurity and the veiling of meaning (see Psalm xlix. 4; lxxviii. 2, Matt. xiii. 35, Ezekiel xx. 49,) "Therefore I speak to them in parables, that seeing they might not perceive;" which parables He afterwards explained privately to His disciples.
The manner of His miracles, made to depend on the faith of the person seeking relief, both in the extent of the benefit, and the mode of its being granted; and the secrecy often enjoined to those on whom they were conferred. "He could do no miracle there, because of their unbelief."
We are reasonably led to enquire, why, in one instance recorded, that of Jairus's daughter, He put them all out but those [19/20] three disciples, and the father, (who had asked and worshipped Him,) and the mother? We shall find one thing, mentioned in all these accounts, that may explain it, viz. it is said, "they laughed Him to scorn." It seems probable from this, that our Lord knew they were not of a temper of heart fitted to witness such a miracle without injury to themselves. And St. Mark mentions that he instantly supported the faith of the father on the news of her death, saying, "Be not afraid, only believe." (p. 18.)
The mode in which He is spoken of by Himself and others. "No man doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly; if Thou do these things, shew Thyself to the world." "How long makest Thou us to doubt? if Thou be Christ, tell us plainly."
On the other hand, any thing approaching to an acknowledgement of the Divine power in our Saviour seems to he followed by some signal blessing, as in the case of the Centurion, &c. and the full confession [of His divinity] still more so in the case of St. Peter; no one else seems to have made this, others acknowledged our Saviour as the Son of David, or as the Christ, not knowing what it imported. It is worthy of attentive observation, that the acknowledgment is from the devils, (see Mark iii.) when He strictly charged them not to divulge it. As if to see, and acknowledge, without suitable reverence, was a state utterly hopeless, (p. 22.) .... And on these occasions it is much to be observed, that it is the Divinity of our Lord, or any thing that would indicate Divine power, such as the Transfiguration, which they were commanded not to divulge. All accounts seem to concur in the supposition that it was the Divinity of our Lord, which could not be disclosed without so much danger .... May it not he the case, therefore, that this was in some way connected with the sin against the Holy Ghost? (p. 15.) .... From all which it may be gathered, that it was indeed of infinite importance, that they should see and believe that He was the Christ; but, that it was of no less infinite importance, that He should not Himself declare it to them. If, when they required the sign, the stronger miraculous attestation, He groaned deeply in spirit; so, on the con[20/21]trary, when Peter acknowledged Him to be the Christ, the Son of God, (from which conversation it would appear that He had never Himself told them that He was,) then came down that blessing, which ceases not, and never shall cease. (p. 22.)
In like manner, in His answer to the disciples of John the Baptist, giving no direct reply, but pointing to His works, and leaving them to the moral evidence which they furnished; and at the same time He tells those around Him, that if they could perceive it, this was the foretold Elijah.
We may observe throughout our Lord's exceeding watchfulness (so to speak) to meet every desire of knowing the truth in those around Him, and how, from His knowledge of their hearts, He often anticipated their expressions; how continually, even with those who were not thus desirous, He kept suggesting thoughts, which, if pursued, might serve them as a clue to their arriving at the truth, or would remove their prejudices. But with regard to entering into their captious difficulties, or answering their unreasonable accusations, He appears to have avoided it, and patiently submitted, although their false or falsely coloured charges were loud in the ears of others, "committing Himself unto Him who judgeth righteously." (Tract 80. p. 111.) .... The instructions to His disciples, when they were sent forth to preach, would seem to convey the same impression, that they were not to press the truth beyond what men were willing to receive, and imply the awful state of those to whom it had been spoken, as may be seen at length in the 10th chapter of St. Luke. (p. 25.)
"The same system is in the Epistles" and is "confirmed by the analogy of God's present dealings," and "the subsequent manifestations of God's presence in His Church," also by His moral government.
That all the best moral writers, whether sacred or profane, speak of a state of probation, as being one of increasing moral light, or of increasing darkness; that a good life is, in some [21/22] especial sense, one of advancement in knowledge, and an evil life, of growing and progressive ignorance, (p. 34.)
That these effects are attributed by Scripture to the immediate agency of God. It both speaks of this divine knowledge as, in some especial manner, the gift of God; that "flesh and blood hath not revealed it [the acknowledgment of our Lord as the Son of God] to St. Peter, but the Father which is in heaven;" that He had "hid these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes;" and "no one cometh unto Me except the Father which hath sent Me, draw him."
Still more in the opposite case, that "God hardened Pharaoh's heart." "If the Prophet be deceived, I the Lord have deceived that Prophet." "He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their hearts, that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, and be converted, and I should heal them." "For this cause God shall send them a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie."
When, therefore, it is asked, Why did not Jesus Christ disclose to them, that He was not born at Nazareth, as they supposed, nor the Son of Joseph, whom they said they knew; why did He leave them in such ignorance of His wonderful power and goodness? It must be answered, that it was He of whom it is written, "He hath blinded their eyes;" and that we have no way of coming to the full meaning of His words but by obedience, (p. 37.) .... This hidden wisdom is entirely of a moral nature, and independent of any mere cultivation of the intellect..... "Add to virtue knowledge," says St. Peter; and this knowledge he considers as the very end of obedience. "If these things (i.e. these graces) abound in, you, they will make that ye shall not be unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." (p. 40.)
In answer to the question of Jude,
Lord, how is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us and [22/23] not unto the world? Jesus answered, and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep My words; and My Father will love, him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him. ... St. John often mentions this knowledge in connexion with love, and such love as the result of obedience. And experience thus confirms it: actions of self-denial dispose the heart to prayer, prayer to the love of God, and the love of God to the knowledge of Him. And this secret and heavenly knowledge, thus attained, seems alluded to in the expression, (Rev. xiv.) "They sang a new song, which song no man could learn, but the hundred and forty and four thousand." .... The same may be seen in passages of Scripture which are only understood in the day of visitation; and in the new and pregnant meanings, which the most illiterate perceive in Scripture when religiously excited, and the more devout and thoughtful at all times, (p. 41.) . . . It seems probable that, according to some great general principle, a fervent piety is the key to all these hidden stores of God, in a natural and almost necessary manner, as it might be. A tendency thus to interpret Scripture is observable in the most illiterate persons, under the influence of an unaffected piety. (p. 46.)
It is further shewn, that God punishes with blindness those who approach sacred truths with a speculative mind:
Such have been attempts to explain the doctrine of the Trinity, which have ended in Arianism; to explain Christ's presence in the Holy Communion, which have led to Transubstantiation: the mode of the new birth at Baptism, which seem, in great measure, to have been the cause of denying it: the incompatibility of freewill with Divine foreknowledge is the conclusion which speculations on such a subject have come to. (p. 47.) ... It appears as if pains were taken that, in the language of Pascal, "the understanding should not forestall the will;" as if knowledge was still the fruit of death, till the heart was prepared for it: that there is a knowledge boundless in extent and infinitely good, and, indeed, no other than that of acknowledging the Divinity of our Lord, to the Attainment of which we are [23/24] urged as the great end of faithful obedience; but that, unless that obedience lead us, as it were by the hand, we shall never arrive at this inner temple, (p. 47.)
In like manner, in regard to communications from God in the form of signal afflictions and temporal calamities, which are spoken of in Scripture as the comings and visitations of Christ and of God, as well as proofs of God's love to those who are thus visited:
Now as the disclosure of our Lord's Divine person was a very signal blessing, but not without a proportionate danger, if not worthily received, so we may observe, that nothing hardens the heart more than temporal afflictions, which are spoken of as the signs of His presence; if not received and cherished with a right spirit, they leave a person at length worse, if not improved by them. And yet it seems agreeable to Scripture to consider them as if persons were thereby drawn into a certain nearness to God--a great privilege; so great that it cannot be trifled with or neglected with impunity, (pp. 49, 50.)
The principle is also seen in the usual conduct of good men, "as marked by an inclination, as far as possible, of retiring and shrinking from public view;" in accordance with which "are the commands of Holy Scripture, which enjoin the concealment of religious actions,"--
That reserve, or retiring delicacy, which exists naturally in a good man, unless injured by external motives, and which is of course the teaching of God through Him......So that in the lives of those, in whom Christ dwells, there is ever something remarkably analogous to the retiring actions of His own life; and the state of such persons, while on the earth, no words can express so emphatically as those of Scripture, "their life is hid with Christ in God."
It might here be observed, that this form of the principle in question affords an argument from analogy, in reply to the objection that the principle of Reserve in using the [24/25] doctrine of the Atonement here treated of, leads to, or is in any degree connected with, a suppression of the truth.
But with regard to that short and summary manner in which the whole subject may be got rid of by saying, that, notwithstanding all such speculative and abstract principles, it is nevertheless our duty to "preach the Word" (i. e. Christ Crucified) "in season, and out of season," and woe be to us, if we do it not. Doubtless it is so; a "dispensation is committed" unto us, a talent which it would be death to hide. And to this it must be said, that the principle of Reserve which we mention is so far from being in any way inconsistent with this duty, that it is but: the more effectual way of fulfilling it. And this may be shewn by another case very similar. It is our bounden duty to "let our light shine before men," to set a good example, that they "may see our good works;" but nevertheless it is true notwithstanding, that the great Christian rule of conduct, as the very foundation of all holiness, is that our religious actions should be in secret as much as possible. These two therefore are perfectly compatible. And unless we do act upon this latter principle, that of hiding our good works, our example will be quite empty and valueless. So also may it not be the case, that our "preaching Christ Crucified" may be in vain and hollow, unless it be founded on this principle of natural modesty, which we have maintained will always accompany the preaching of a good man under the teaching of God? (Tr. 87. p. 45.) .... Now, it is much to be observed, that these indications, which are found with good men, and increase with holiness of life, and by which we may learn the mode in which the Holy Spirit is dealing with mankind, are not to be found in religious enthusiasm. I would mean by enthusiasm, a state of the mind when the feelings are strongly moved by religion, but the heart is not adequately purified nor humbled. Such, therefore, would be most likely to occur when the passions have been strengthened by an irregular life, and the objects that excited them are casually removed from view, and the importance of religion is in consequence seen and felt. Such a state would partake much of the nature of earthly passion, and would be such as might be called [25/26] in morals, according to the view taken above, a state of ignorance. God is not apprehended, as He is set forth in Scripture, as of infinite holiness, but a fiction of the imagination, as each man feigns the idea of God according to his own heart, which was shewn visibly in the idols of old, and alluded to in the expression, "Thou thoughtest wickedly that God was such an one as thyself." In such a case men would have no reserve in expressing that which was not at all rightly apprehended, or feared, or loved. And the cause of this state of heart would be a not keeping the commandments which give this light to the eyes, or the not having kept them, and such transgressions not having been repented of. For this is set before us as the great cure for enthusiasm by St. John. It is the Apostle of Divine Love who seems to have been especially commissioned to warn us against this its counterfeit. Not only in his Epistles, but, in recording the parting consolations of our Lord, no less than eleven times in the course of two chapters does he stop, as it were, to insert these cautious, "If ye keep My commandments." (pp. 55, 56.)
After shewing, by way of review, "that the whole subject contains something analogous in each particular to the circumstances of our Lord's life," "that the principle was fully recognised by the ancient Church," "though the present aspect of the world is much opposed to it," the Tract proceeds to give some practical rules afforded by it in the investigation of truth, in which the following observation is worthy of remark:
To require, therefore, that, such subjects should come to us in a more sensible and palpable way, before we will accept them, betrays the same temper of mind as that of requiring a sign; or at best, it is but that weak belief which says, "unless I handle and feel I will not believe," and which therefore loses the highest blessing, "blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed." (p. 66)
The principle of Reserve is then applied to prevailing opinions on promoting religion. The following is worthy [26/27] of note, as exhibiting, in the departure from it, the germ I of the system to which it is opposed.
These means [a stricter observance of the times of prayer, and devotional exercises, and the cultivation thereby of devotional habits] are of a more unobtrusive and retiring character than the Age approves of, but still this is the temper of the Church, as it always has been. Indeed, the great occasions of difference on which many Separatists have left, or would leave, her bosom, have been this very temper of reserve, which she has inherited from the beginning. It may be observed, that they have in many cases taken some single doctrine; which they have put forward in a bold and prominent way, and made the centre of a self-formed system, which the Church holds as well as themselves, but after a certain manner of reserve, in a certain proportion and in combination with others, (pp. 73, 74.)
After this follows "the consideration of a subject most important in this point of view--the prevailing notion of bringing forward the Atonement explicitly and prominently on all occasions."
This being the point in reference to which objections to this treatise have been chiefly raised, it will be necessary for me to quote somewhat more fully, though at the risk of wearying the reader. This I shall do from both Tracts.
If we put forth one truth to the suppression or disparagement of others, the effect of our teaching may be equivalent to falsehood, and not truth. That the preparations of the heart which can alone receive the faith in its fulness, are by other means than those which this system supposes, we cannot but be assured; Scripture and reason both would imply that it is by insisting first of all, if need be, on natural piety, on the necessity of common honesty, on repentance, on judgment to come, and without any mode of expression that excepts ourselves from that judgment; by urging those assistances to poverty of spirit, which Scripture recommends and the Church prescribes, such as fasting and alms, and the necessity of reverent and habitual prayer. These may be the [27/28] means of bringing persons to the truth as it is in Jesus Christ, with that awe and fear, which our Lord's own teaching and that of His Apostles would inspire; surely above all things should we be careful not to be deceiving ourselves and others by an irreverent handling of God's most sacred consolations. (Tr. 87, pp. 50,51.). . . Doubtless, we are saved by faith in Christ alone; but to come to know this in all its power, is the very perfection of the Christian; not to be instilled or obtained by lifting up the voice in the street, but by obedience and penitence, so that, as each man advances in holiness of life, and comes the more to know what God is, the more does he feel himself, with the Saints of all ages, to be the chief of sinners. But as for that assurance and sensible confidence, with which it is thought necessary that the doctrine should be preached and received, it would seem as if there was scarcely any thing against the subtle effect of which we are so much guarded in Holy Scripture as this: all those who are recorded as being most approved, were remarkable for the absence of it; as in the case of the Centurion, the Canaanitish woman, and others; above all, of those who at the last day shall be surprised with the welcome tidings that they are accepted: on the contrary, those who are rejected shall come with that plea of confidence, because they have prophesied in Christ's name, and He has taught in their streets, and will be condemned with emphatic words, as they that work iniquity; whereby the whole stress is thrown on that single point, which those who hold these opinions are most studious to make of secondary importance, the necessity of working righteousness..... The Cross of Christ which St. Paul preached was that by which "the world was crucified to him and he was crucified to the world," "bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus." And precisely the same was the teaching of our blessed Lord also. His own humiliation, and the necessity of our humiliation together with Him, was the doctrine signified by the Cross which He put forth and inculcated on the multitude, in distinction from that of His own divinity, and our salvation through the same, which He rather kept secret. This is remarkably shewn in the eighth chapter of St. Mark; after the confession of St. Peter it is added, and "He [28/29] charged them that they should tell no man concerning Him." And He began to teach them, as the account continues, concerning His sufferings, to which it is immediately added, "and He spake that saying openly," and the account proceeds, and "when He had called the people unto Him with His disciples also, He said unto them, 'Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.'" We cannot but contrast the full declarations, so often repeated, concerning His sufferings, with the mysterious silence respecting His divinity; and we must observe that the mention of those sufferings is introduced in conjunction with that of the necessity of His disciples drinking of the same cup.....In all things it would appear that this doctrine, so far from its being what is supposed, is in fact the very "secret of the Lord," which Solomon says "is with the righteous," and "the covenant" not to be lightly spoken of by man, but which "He will shew to them that fear Him:" that knowledge which is blessed, because flesh and blood cannot reveal it, but the Father only. The "hidden manna" which He will give to those who overcome the world: the white stone, with "a new name" written thereon, "which no man knoweth, saving he that received) it." (Tr. 80, pp. 75, 70.) . . . The apparent paradox which we witness, of Christianity having become publicly acceptable to the world, contrary to our Lord's express declarations, can only be accounted for by its having been put forward without its distinguishing characteristic, the humiliation of the natural man: the doctrine of the Cross having been in some manner hidden: or those truths connected with it which are most agreeable to mankind being brought for ward alone. "Had the design of our Lord's coming," says Pascal, "been the work of Justification only, it had been then the easiest task in the world to convince an unbeliever. But since He came, as Isaiah prophetically speaks, in sanctificationem et in scandalum, perverse Infidelity is above our strength to conquer, and our art to cure." (page 170.) The teaching alluded to has practically made a separation between these doctrines, or, at least, has led the world to do so. (p. 77.)
The following remarks also are important, as furnishing an answer to those who deny, or are unwilling to believe, the tendency to Socinianism resulting from "these unhallowed approaches to our Saviour which those principles indicate," because not immediately visible in individuals, or shewing itself in a more disguised and subtle form, e.g. in applying familiar and irreverent expressions to our blessed Lord, in a disposition to deny His Divine presence and power in His Sacraments,--the regenerating influence of one, and the spiritual presence in the other.
But these general tendencies must not of course he applied to individuals, who may acquiesce in, or not see the danger of the system they espouse; for we know there is often a great deal in the character to counteract one admitted principle; and it is often the case, by God's mercy, that in particular instances wrong principles are riot received into the heart and conduct, no more than in other cases good ones, which are professed. . . . And here it may he asked, if this necessary tendency to some subtle form of Socinianism accompanies all practical disregard to Religion when professed: how is this proved in the case of the Roman Church, which, notwithstanding its extensive corruption, has served, by God's protection, as a safeguard for the Catholic truth? It will explain a circumstance that seems otherwise unaccountable, the extraordinary, yet powerfully prevailing, tendency to substitute the Virgin as the object of religious worship. The great Catholic doctrine of the Trinity being so strongly established among them by entering into all their devotional forms and Creeds, that it could not be shaken, human depravity has sought out an opening for itself under another shape. It is by this means the natural heart lowers the object of its worship to its own frailty, so as to approach that object in Prayer without holiness of life. Which is in fact the object of every false or perverted religion.
In immediate connection with these topics, is that of not observing any reserve on sacred subjects, or rather of casting aside that reserve which is natural both in conversation and in writing..... It seems to arise from causes not unsimilar [30/31] to those which have been at the bottom of most of the things alluded to, viz., an attempt to remedy certain effects and symptoms which indicate a want of Religion, instead of the want itself. .... Bishop Wilson himself gives the caution, that we should never talk of religion without thinking seriously; that such conversation should be affectionate, seasonable, and "not casting pearls before swine." And surely our blessed Lord's example was entirely of this kind, what we might be allowed to call perfectly natural; drawing out from every passing event treasures of wisdom, and also from the secret thoughts of His hearers. . . . The injury produced by the habit here condemned is from what Bishop Butler mentions on the formation of moral habits, that going over the theories of religion has the effect of hardening the heart.....The same may be said of bringing forward the name of the ever-blessed Spirit of God without serious attention: the effect of this is to take away the sense of reality, and to habituate the mind to irreverence. (Tr. 80, p. 79-81.)
In the second of these two Tracts the author expresses his disappointment that since the publication of the first, no objection of that nature has been advanced,
By answering and explaining which he might either draw out and establish more clearly his main principle, or else be assisted in seeing that the case could not be proved.
He is not aware of one single argument adduced that touches the main question; but much vague declamation, and strong alarms expressed, because the view interferes with certain peculiar religious opinions, or on account of some motives attributed to the writer's friends, or on other similar grounds, which in fact (even were they true) in no way affect him or his principle. That those who will not afford the subject a patient consideration should not agree with him, does in truth only confirm the argument which the writer wishes to maintain; which is mainly this, that religious truth cannot be known without serious attention. (p. 5.)
 He then relates the history of the subject in his own mind.
That the opinion was not at first formed from a knowledge of any system of the kind in sacred antiquity, nor from observing that the principle was so fully maintained throughout the whole of the Holy Scriptures as he has since found it to be, much less from any speculative theory adopted in the study; but from his own dealings with mankind in the care of a parish, and his observation of the conduct of others who, he thought, had most experience and good sense and singleness of heart in winning men to the truth, (p. 4.)
[The remainder of the passage is too long to transcribe, though extremely interesting and valuable.]
The testimony of the ancient Church to the principle is shewn to be full and extensive, especially in the existence of the Disciplina Arcani, itself founded on the same principle, and a rule of a moral nature. The authority of the Fathers is cited at some length. The following remark on the latter, though not confined to the present subject, is valuable, in reply to those who would invalidate the authority of the Fathers generally, by their peculiar conceits in some things.
Even were it granted that the interpretations of Origen, Ambrose, and others were fanciful and untenable, as perhaps they sometimes are, yet it cannot be supposed that they were wrong in the general principle of interpretation, but in the effort of human understanding to fathom the depths of Divine wisdom in the particular instance. There may be much beyond the letter, but it may be presumption in uninspired man to say what it is,--"Let GOD be true, but every man a liar." ... In attempting too far to dive into it, to illustrate and apprehend its meanings, fallible men may of course greatly err from time to time, though the general principle on which they set out may be nevertheless from the SPIRIT of Truth. Thus fallible men have erred and do err in their attempts to explain the heavenly bodies; and yet they [32/33] may be right in the notion of the order and the vastness of the material heavens, though wrong in their particular explanations, pp. 23, 24.) . . . The Fathers seem always to imply that the Secrets of Christ's kingdom are obtained only by a consistent course of self-denying obedience; that a knowledge of these things is not conveyed by mere words, nor is a matter of excited emotion, but is n practical knowledge of the heart, obtained move find more by self-renouncing duties of prayer and the like; and thus it is, that, by the Cross of Christ, we are brought to Him, and led on to the knowledge of God. So that this higher degree of faith "goeth not forth but by prayer and fasting." (p. 28.)
The analogy between the principle and practice of the ancient Church and our Lord's example is thus stated.
As our Lord spake by parable things hard to be understood to the multitude, and explained them to His chosen disciples, so does the Catholic and Primitive mode of interpreting Scripture imply that all the Holy Word is like a parable, containing within it Divine wisdom, such as is disclosed to the faithful and good Christian.--That, if we are inclined to feel surprise at our Lord's not making Himself publicly known to His enemies in His power and wisdom, the early Church suffered herself to be under the same obloquy and misinterpretation among heathens, who were singularly ignorant of the nature of Christianity.--That, as our Lord implied that there was great and increasing danger to those who knew His will, so in a manner quite different to our modern notions, do the Ancients imply, that great danger is to be apprehended from knowing the Gospels, and not acting suitably to that knowledge,--That, as the Gospels indicate throughout that the benefit conferred on every individual was exactly according to his faith, to the effort he made to ask, or to touch the hem of our Saviour's garment, so do the Fathers also teach that exactly according to the advancement in holiness of life, or the effort to advance, does Christ disclose the Eternal Father. That as our Lord continually pointed out to natural objects, as conveying spiritual instruction and the Wisdom of God,--the birds as teaching filial confidence, the lilies of the field humility, the seed [33/34] sown the nature of the Eternal Kingdom,--so do the Fathers speak of nature itself being also but a clothing, by which the Almighty was concealed from us, and revealed to those who read His works with faith. Finally, it would appear that, as the mortification of the Cross, and keeping the commandments, was our Lord's teaching to all indiscriminately, and to those who were thus brought to Him that he made known His Divinity; so the object of the Disciplina Arcani was to effect this purpose, to procure a preparation of the heart previous to the imparting of the highest knowledge. That such is throughout the teaching of the Fathers, that the Doctrine of the Cross is among them one of extensive meaning, containing both the humiliation of the natural man, and in conjunction with it the knowledge of our Lord's Divinity and Atonement, (p. 40, 41.)
In stating the ease from plain moral principles, the following remarks are much to the point, in reference to the fallacy and the danger of separating the doctrine of the Atonement from that of practical Holiness, and as accounting for the popularity of this modern system.
A certain course of action can alone dispose us to receive certain doctrines; and hence it is evident that these doctrines are in vain preached, unless these actions are at the same time practised and insisted on as most essential. For instance, charitable works [works proceeding from charity, and the love of God] alone will make a man charitable, and the more any one does charitable works, the more charitable he will become . . He only will be humble in heart who does humble actions; and no action is (morally speaking) an humble action but such as proceeds from the spirit of humility; and he who does humble actions most will be most humble; and he who is most humble will be most emptied of self-righteousness, and therefore will most of all value the Cross of Christ, being least of all sensible of his own good deeds. . . . That teacher, therefore, who will most induce men to do these works, will most of all bring men unto Christ, though he speaks not most fully and loudly of His ever-blessed Atonement. . . . Or again, good works consist especially in Prayers. He who [34/35] does most of these good works, i, e. he who prays most, seeks most of all for an assistance out of, and beyond himself, and therefore relies least of all on himself and most of all upon God. ... To say, therefore, that such works, which alone are good works, tend to foster pride, and are a seeking for expiations beyond the one great Atonement, conveys a most dangerous fallacy..... A covetous man is he who trusts in riches; and so far as any one trusts in riches, in that degree he cannot trust in God, and therefore can have no saving sense of the Atonement of Christ, or dependence on the good Spirit of God. And if his feelings are excited on the subject of these doctrines, while he is under the influence of this vice, it cannot be anything better than a mere delusion of the fancy . . . . So also with respect to impurity of heart; for a man of impure heart may be very sensibly affected by these touching and vital doctrines of the Gospel; and yet it is certain that he cannot receive them rightly; for the pure in heart alone can see God; and therefore can alone see, so as rightly to understand, those doctrines in which God is manifested. That minister, therefore, who, by preaching the terrors of the judgment day, or by any other Scriptural means, induces men to repent of these crimes, will necessarily, and by a plain moral consequence, open their eyes, their ears, their heart, to receive the high saving principles of the Gospel; though he speaks not implicitly of them anymore than the Baptist did, or our Lord, or His Apostles. So palpably absurd, even on the plain grounds of moral principles, is it to speak of the teaching of repentance being opposed to the preaching of Christ . . . This is an explanation of some obvious reasons why Holy Scripture should connect our own cross with the Cross of Christ, as it so often does, and emblematically typified of the Church, in him who bore the cross after Christ; for it is said to us all, "whosoever doth not take up his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple." Now there can be no repentance, and no progress in religious duties without self-denial. These duties, therefore, are a bearing of our own cross, which will alone bring us to a right sense of the Cross of Christ. It is not setting aside the Cross of Christ, nor disparaging it; it is only shewing the mode by which alone we may be brought to know its inestimable value .... He [35/36] who most of all practises these duties, will be most of all brought, by a necessary and moral consequence, to value the Cross of Christ; and he who is brought to embrace that doctrine, with most affection, will speak of it with most reserve; he cannot speak of it as these persons require .... To check, therefore, such works by any misstatements, by half admonitions and half encouragements, is to keep men from Him. It is like stopping the mouths of the blind men, who have no way to approach Him but by prayer, that He may open their eyes; for unless we practise these works of obedience and repentance, we shall assuredly have no eyes to see Him; for it is "the commandment of the Lord" which "giveth light unto the eyes." It is putting away the little children, the babes in Christ, because they are not of full stature. It is casting stumbling-blocks in the way of weak men. (pp. 58, 63.)
All Scripture is shewn to be in perfect harmony as opposed to this modern system, which is moreover thus stated to be a worldly one.
The evils it has led to in various forms of dissent are too evident wherever we turn our eyes, leading men to the neglect of honesty and plain dealing, and at length to indifference, unsettledness, and infidelity. In the Church it excludes with jealous eagerness all things that may alarm the consciences of those who heartily adopt the system, obedience to Church authority, practices of mortification, the fear of God, and the doctrine of judgment to come. It sets forth religion in colours attractive to the world, by stimulating the affections, and by stifling the conscience, rather than by purifying and humbling the heart. Hence its great prevalence, in places of fashionable resort. And to those who have in any way forfeited their character for religion and morality or sound doctrine, instead of the process of painful secret self-discipline and gradual restoration, or the open and salutary penance of the Ancient Church, it affords an instant and ready mode for assuming at once all the privileges and authority of advanced piety. And the consequence is, that real humility of heart, and a quiet walking in the ordinances of God, finds not only [36/37] the world in array against it, but that which considers itself as Christianity also.
The present age is one of affected refinement in sentiment combined with loose morals; one of expediency rather than principle, of rationalism rather than faith; one that will take all that is agreeable and beautiful and benevolent in religion, and reject what is stern and self-denying and awful. Now the whole truth in its just proportions we have in the Creed, which God has given us as a key to Scripture, the depository of the faith in the Church, to each individual a guide and safeguard. But it is very evident that if we take one point only in religion, instead of this analogy of the Faith, we may produce a religion which may please ourselves and others, and yet may he very far from, the truth as it is in Scripture, and from the principles of that new world wherein dwelleth righteousness. And it is an awful and trying question for a man to ask himself, whether the reason why he sets aside the Day of Judgment, the severe discipline of the Church, and above all the two Sacraments, in his public teaching, is not this, that in the secret care of himself he does not consider them.
Now against all this leaven of a worldly system, the reserve that is here inculcated seems at once the remedy; for it strips off at once all those external indications of a religion which exists not in the heart, as rather hindrances to true piety than the promoters of it; and requires one to be reverential and considerate in all that regards it. We have nothing to shew to ourselves or others, to encourage the notion that we are better than they; and may be induced to cultivate a sincere desire to be approved in the eyes of our Father "who seeth in secret." A want of reserve, an artificial religious tone in conversation or prayer is, as the good James Bonnel observes, a proof that the person is wishing to be, or wishing to persuade himself that he is, rather than that he really is religious. As far as any one is in earnest, he will act naturally with this sacred modesty, seeking to know God and do His will, (pp. 79-81.)
It is shewn that the system of the Church is one of Reserve as seen in the holiness of God's House of Prayer, in the Sacraments, Church ordinances and practices; that [37/38] she "realizes the kingdom in secret;" that the principle affords the best preservative of sound principles, as may be particularly evidenced in the doctrine of Transubstantiation.
It arose in a dereliction and forgetfulness of the discipline of reserve on that subject; in a want of the high and ancient reverence; in a desire to establish and prove to the world a great secret of God. The result was profaneness in both parties. Not only in the denial of Sacramental grace on the one side, but in the low and carnal conceit which Transubstantiation introduced. So awful in its consequences has been the attempt to bring out the doctrine of the Eucharist from the holy silence, which adoring reverence suggests; the attempt of the human understanding with unhallowed boldness to fathom the deep things of God. . . . The Primitive Church thought otherwise, as of a doctrine to be realized by devotion, rather than capable of being expressed in human language. . . . And it is worthy of observation, that, in the Church of Home, that which is Roman and Tridentine, in distinction from that which is Catholic, is characterized by a want of this reserve. The want of reserve and reverence which attends the elevation of the Host, and the public processions connected with it, is very great indeed: these are indications (like many things of a different nature in the system we have condemned) that it is popular impression, and not a sense of God's presence, which is considered: for here there can be no true veneration: and "where God is there must be the fear of Him." They are of the nature of religious frauds; it is effect which is more thought of than truth. (p. 101.)
Speaking of the want of reverence now prevailing--
The awful extent to which this want of reverence in religion has gone, is, it. is to be feared, very little considered or calculated upon. The degree to which all sense of the holiness of Churches is lost, is too evident; the efficacy of the Sacraments, the presence of God in them, and in His appointed ministerial Ordinances is, it will be allowed, by no means duly acknowledged, and, indeed, [38/39] less and less. Men's eyes being not opened, they do not see with the Patriarch, "how dreadful is this place," "the Lord was in this place, and I knew it not." There is also another point in which all due fear of God's awful presence is lost, very far beyond what many are aware of, and that is in regard for the Holy Scripture. . . . Although the Holy Scriptures are pronounced Divine (for no evil is done but under a good name) they are treated as if they were not; as if human thought could grasp their systems, could limit their meanings, and say to that boundless ocean in which the Almighty walks, "Hitherto shalt Thou come, and no further."
The following also should be noticed, because some of the subjects referred to in it, and which I have marked by Italics, have been particularly cited in some of the censures "which have been passed on this work.
The subtle and predominant spirit, which is the source of the irreverence of the age, consists in a forgetfulness of God, even in religion, and therefore, in looking to impression rather than truth. It finds a place in Ministers, in reading the prayers, in preaching, in conversation. It is seen in a higher regard paid to the pulpit than to the altar. In setting preaching above the Sacraments, for that arises from looking to man rather than to God. This is, in fact, that which we would condemn in the spirit of the age, respecting building of Churches, distributing of the Scriptures, and the like. Not things of course in themselves to be reprehended, but in the mode and tone which characterizes religious actions in the present day. There is a want of fear. . . . The numerous schemes of education which are abroad partake of the same earthly character, and the futility of them is of itself a proof of something wrong. They are founded on the idea of education consisting in knowledge. ... It was very well for heathen philosophers to be forming schemes of education and systems of politics: and if human wisdom could have effected any thing, they had far better chance of success than we. We have it revealed from Heaven, that there is no way of wisdom, but that [39/40] of obedience and the Cross. What else can he right education, but that which consists in entering more fully into the privileges of that kingdom of Heaven which is among us? of what little value is any knowledge, excepting so far as it brings us into this invisible but eternal world? (p. 121.) ..... God dwelleth in secret, and by faith only can he discerned. Faith is the key to His secret treasures. All that is directed to the eye of God will in some measure partake of this reserve. In opposition to which, all the ways of the world, of human expediency, all systems and practices that look to man, will be marked by an absence of this reserve. As far as we look to God we shall have this; as far as we look to man we shall have it not. The world knows not God, and cannot know Him; so far, therefore, as we know Him, so far also, the world also will not know us, and will not understand our ways, and our words. So that from the very nature of the case, this reserve becomes necessary and unavoidable. . . . Our strength must he in secret, where God is. . . . If others have recourse to thoughtless controversial disputations, we must leave such to them, and endeavour, ourselves, to learn the truth, and our obedience shall he their light. Remembering always, that this reserve of Holy Scripture, in which every thing that is good must he now, more or less, concealed, is ever calculated to lead on our thoughts by a necessary connexion to that great manifestation, when there is "nothing secret that shall not he manifest;" neither any thing hid that shall not he known and come abroad, when He who now "seeth in secret, shall reward openly" those that wait for Him. (pp. 121, 125.)
I have thus endeavoured to give what I trust may be considered a fair and impartial, however imperfect, analysis of this much controverted work. From the circumstances which have led me to undertake this, I trust that, I shall not be considered to have done so as an advocate or partizan, but simply as an act of justice. I was induced to read it, as I observed before, with reference to the present contest, in consequence of what had been alleged against it; [40/41] and finding how shamefully it had been misrepresented and its author maligned, I thought it might not be without its use to publish a brief view of its nature and object, thinking, not unnaturally, that there might be many others situated like myself, who had not had an opportunity of reading the work, and might be perplexed how to act in the present instance, by what had been, as it were authoritatively, said against it. And I have been confirmed in the propriety of this view by a circumstance which has come to my knowledge since the analysis and previous remarks had gone to the press, to the truth of which I pledge myself, that persons who had previously resolved to remain neutral, have since been led to read this work, and have in consequence sent in their adhesion to Mr. Williams. Neither would I be understood as by any means pledging myself to an unqualified concurrence in all that is advanced in it, There are some things in it with which I do not agree, (probably, the meaning of which I do not clearly apprehend,) and some which, while I agree with their general sentiment, I could wish had been differently expressed. I could also have wished, considering it is more immediately addressed to the Clergy, that besides developing the principle, it had entered somewhat more fully into the practical application of it to parochial ministrations, of which some might perhaps entertain a doubt, while admitting the principle, (as I think Mr. Barter observes in his pamphlet,) in the present state of the Church, owing to our defective state of discipline, and the mixed character of our congregations. This would have rendered it more practically useful, and at the same time have more effectually guarded it against misapprehension; though to the advocates of the system to which it is opposed I fear it must needs have given offence.
It may in truth be said, that in our present anomalous state, from the discordance between the theory and practice of our [41/42] Church, owing to the relaxation of Ecclesiastical discipline, we cannot be said to be competent judges of a principle, if we test its truth by its capability of immediate and universal application. An analogous case is strikingly seen in regard to many parts of the Liturgy, and more particularly in the Baptismal and Burial Services. Who has not, in using these, experienced the painful revulsion of feeling which they excite, when the thought, however involuntary, arises in his mind, how unsuited is their high and heavenly language of joy and hope,--in the one ease to the more than probable prospect of the child's future training from the known character of the parents; and in the other, to the known life of the person over whose remains they are uttered.
Yet if in these cases holy reverence would forbid us to alter them, as some would have us, to meet a vitiated state both of practical religion and of society, rather than wait in patient faith until the gradual return to a healthier state of things shall have relieved us from these painful embarrassments, surely we may pause before we condemn the developement of a purely Scriptural principle like the one now under consideration, though we do not see our way clearly in regard to its practical application, in all points, to our existing state of discipline and society. At the same tune, though not able, for a time, to apply it as fully as he would wish, no clergyman (nor layman) can read it without profit, (if in a proper spirit,) nor find the principle otherwise than of essential service to bear in mind both in his public and private teaching. And it must also be admitted, I think, that no one can read the work without being struck by the tone in which it is written, and the deep devotional spirit and acquaintance with Holy Scripture which pervade it. Happy had it been, if all those who have read it had imbibed these, though they feel unable to concur in its positions.
Let me however now ask what ground is there for the [42/43] outcry which has been raised, and the charges which have been brought against this work? What is there in the principle developed in it, or the mode in which the subject has been treated, which those who receive the Gospel in all its fulness, as maintained by the Church and as exhibited in the Prayer Book, can find to justify the language which has been held respecting it? Who would not regret that those who have pronounced their official censure upon it, should not, before they did so, have made themselves more fully acquainted with its principle and object, (not to be done by a hasty or superficial perusal,) which had they done, it would be doing them injustice to suppose they would have withheld their concurrence?
[The following may be taken as a specimen of the censures passed, and of the arguments by which they are supported.
["There is ground, I think, for fear, if a system of reserve in communicating religious knowledge be introduced, and we are taught to treat salvation by grace as 'a great secret' to be kept out of sight of the ungodly for fear of an 'indelicate exposure of religion,' and that to require from grown persons and children an explicit belief in the Atonement, and the full assurance of its power, appears equally untenable.' Is this conclusion drawn from our blessed Lord's own teaching? We, I trust, have not so learned Christ, we remember how in the very earliest days of His ministry, He did not hesitate to bring forward some of the highest doctrines. At the first Passover, He assumed a right over His Father's house by clearing the Temple, a declaration of the Divine prerogative of the strongest kind. His discourse with Nicodemus is based upon the doctrine of Regeneration, the deepest theological truth, [one would have thought rather that the doctrine was based upon the discourse.] "His conversation with the woman of Samaria revealed that God is a Spirit; the most abstract metaphysical truth. In declaring to the people of Nazareth, that to none of the widows in Israel was Elias sent, save even unto a city of Sidon unto a woman that was a widow, he taught the doctrine of election, the most mysterious of the Divine purposes. We remember how, some months before His crucifixion, He intimates the sacrifice and its object, 'Destroy this temple,' 'The Son of man must be lifted up.' 'The bread that I give is My flesh, which I give for the life of the world.'" [Bishop of Winchester's Charge.]
[Would it be believed that the above is in reply to the principle that our Lord regulated His disclosure of Himself and of things pertaining to His kingdom, by the faith and spiritual capacity of those to whom He addressed Himself; that He was at all times desirous of communicating this heavenly knowledge; that He did so whenever He found faith and readiness to receive it, and was only restrained from doing so by the want of them? If His Lordship had searched the New Testament for passages in confirmation of the principle which these are intended to refute, he could hardly have found any more appropriate. Our Lord's conversation with the woman of Samaria was with her alone, in whom, as the result shewed, He saw faith to acknowledge Him as the Christ; while of the other Samaritans who afterwards believed on Him, it is stated, as indicating their willingness to receive instruction and that more was in consequence vouchsafed, that they first believed on Him for the saying of the woman "He told me all that ever I did;" and that though He abode with them two days, it was, as in the case of the two disciples at Emmaus, not until they had "besought Him that He would tarry with Him;" after which it is related that "many more believed because of His own words." His discourse with Nicodemus was privately, and by night. Neither does it appear that His words were understood by Nicodemus. Neither do these words convey even now to many the meaning which the Church has ever attributed to them. Else, whence is it that so many, while recognising in them "the basis of the doctrine of Regeneration," do not see how essentially they connect that doctrine with Baptism--"Except a man be born again, of water and the Spirit?" The words, "Destroy this temple" were so far from being understood, that in their literal acceptation they formed one of the charges against Him at His trial, when, of course, it had been easy for our Lord, had it been His wish to remove their misapprehensions in their pre sent state of mind, to have added the brief explanation inserted by the Evangelist in recording the circumstance, "But He spake of the temple of His body." "How can this man give us His flesh to eat?" tells us how little they received that saying, nor is any clearer explanation vouchsafed. Lastly, in regard to His cleansing the temple, so little was this understood, and so little designed to be understood without a greater degree of fitness on their part to receive the truth, that when the Jews asked Him "What sign shewest Thou unto us, seeing that Thou doest these things?" His only reply was, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up," words not understood even by His Disciples until after His Resurrection (see John ii. 22); and when, on His teaching in the temple shortly afterwards, (from St. Matthew's narrative it would appear to have been on the following day,) they asked by what authority He did these things, He first touted their spiritual-mindedness and capacity for receiving further knowledge by a question respecting their right apprehension of the Baptist's Mission, and when they failed in the required test, replied "Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things."]
 In regard to the matter, however, which now more immediately concerns us, such being the nature and object [44/45] of this work, such the principles and the system to which it is opposed, such the grounds of the clamour which has been raised against it, I would put to the consideration of all independent Members of Convocation, whether such representation and clamour ought to be allowed in any way to influence our votes; whether those whose principles are so materially opposed to our own should be allowed to dictate to us, and to call on us to vote against a candidate for upholding principles, for maintaining which the great bulk of the Clergy have been by them so often charged with betraying the most sacred trust; and whose very designation which they assume as a religious party, is a badge of the estimation in which they hold those whose views differ from their own.
I remember that a few years since, in a debate in Parliament on some question connected with the abolition of Slavery in our Colonies, (I think on a motion to give the slaves their full liberty before the period assigned by the [45/46] Emancipation Act, by dispensing with the apprenticeship altogether,) on which a meeting had also been holden a few days before at Exeter Hall, characterized by the usual violent and inflammatory speeches, imputing to those who took a different view, that they favoured slavery, Sir Robert Peel manfully came forward and said, that he would not be deterred from doing his duty by any clamour or imputation of motives, nor would he consent to surrender the functions of Parliament to the Committees of Exeter Hall.
Now I think we should entertain a similar feeling in regard to t he clamour which has been raised out of doors on the present academical question. For my own part, I have no strong feeling respecting the issue of this election; I consider it a matter of little importance which candidate succeeds, compared with the spirit and regard to truth with which the contest is conducted. But I do feel strongly that the University, to which I feel bound by ties of filial attachment and gratitude, should be dragged from her high and dignified position, and thrown into unseemly and worldly strife, by those who least of all have any right to dictate to us. As regards my individual vote, I support Mr. Williams because, in addition to high poetical talents, and these dedicated to the highest of all subjects, in the tone and spirit of the Church, he possesses a pure taste and a sound critical judgment, together with a high reputation for Latin composition,--qualifications which are essential to some of the most important functions which the Professor of Poetry is required to discharge in the course of his official duties, such as adjudging the annual prizes, and the Latin oration delivered, alternately with [46/47] the Public Orator, at the annual commemoration of Founders and Benefactors. [It is well known that the late Dr. Parr, no unimportant testimony, pronounced a high eulogium on Mr. Williams's Latin Prize Poem.] At the same time, in saying this, I offer no disparagement to his rival, with whom my acquaintance is not sufficient to warrant me in saying that he does not possess these same qualifications in an equal degree. Nor am I aware that he has ever written or published any thing, from which any judgment on this subject could be formed. To those therefore who support him on the like ground, my remarks, as I have before observed, in no way refer. But if any have been induced to promise their votes against Mr. Williams, or to remain neutral, in consequence on the charges which have been brought against his work On Reserve, or on the ground that his "writings are in contravention of the Inspired Apostles"--that to support him would be to "recognise exoteric and esoteric doctrines in the Church of England, to obscure the perspicuity of the Gospel by the philosophy of Paganism, and make the places set apart for the ministration of the preacher whose duties must mainly be among the poor, the wayfaring, and the simple, as mystic and incomprehensible as the grove of Eleusis,"--they will see, from what I have here laid before them, that the promise has been obtained, however undesignedly, by misrepresentation, and that they may, consistently with every obligation of honour and justice, consider themselves absolved from their engagement.