Occasional Papers eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 447 pages of information about Occasional Papers.
Then succeeded the great Liberal tide with its demands for extensive and immediate change, its anti-ecclesiastical spirit, its scarcely disguised scepticism, its daring philosophical and critical enterprises.  By degrees it became clear that the impatience and intolerance which had purged the University of so many Churchmen had, after all, left the Church movement itself untouched, to assume by degrees proportions scarcely dreamed of when it began; but that what the defeat of the Tractarians really had done was, to leave the University at the mercy of Liberals to whom what had been called Liberalism in the days of Whately was mere blind and stagnant Conservatism.

One war was no sooner over than the Provost of Oriel found another even more formidable on his hands.  The most dauntless and most unshaken of combatants, he faced his new antagonists with the same determination, the same unshrinking sense of duty with which he had fought his old ones.  He used the high authority and influence which his position and his character justly gave him, to resist or to control, as far as he could, the sweeping changes which, while bringing new life into Oxford, have done so much to break up her connection of centuries with the Church.  He boldly confronted the new spirit of denial and unbelief.  He wrote, he preached, he published, as he had done against other adversaries, always with measured and dignified argument, but not shrinking from plain-spoken severity of condemnation.  Never sparing himself labour when he thought duty called, he did not avail himself of the privilege of advancing years to leave the war to be carried on by younger champions.

It is impossible for those who may at times have found themselves most strongly, and perhaps most painfully, opposed to him, not to admire and revere one who, through so long a career has, in what he held to be his duty to the Church and to religion, fought so hard, encountered such troubles, given up so many friendships and so much ease, and who, while a combatant to the last, undiscouraged by odds and sometimes by ill-success, has brought to the weariness and disappointment of old age an increasing gentleness and kindliness of spirit, which is one of the rarest tokens and rewards of patient and genuine self-discipline.  A man who has set himself steadily and undismayed to stem and bring to reason the two most powerful currents of conviction and feeling which have agitated his times, leaves an impressive example of zeal and fearlessness, even to those against whom he has contended.  What is the upshot which has come of these efforts, and whether the controversies of the moment have not in his case, as in others, diverted and absorbed faculties which might have been turned to calmer and more permanent tasks, we do not inquire.

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Occasional Papers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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