Occasional Papers eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 447 pages of information about Occasional Papers.
of himself is never so fresh and natural as when it is called out by the spur and pressure of an accidental and instant necessity, and is directed to a purpose and quickened by feelings which belong to immediate and passing circumstances.  The traces of hurried work are of light account when they are the guarantees that a man is not sitting down to draw a picture of himself, but stating his case in sad and deep earnest out of the very fulness of his heart.

The aim of the book is to give a minute and open account of the steps and changes by which Dr. Newman passed from the English Church to the Roman.  The history of a change of opinion has often been written from the most opposite points of view; but in one respect this book seems to stand alone.  Let it be remembered what it is, the narrative and the justification of a great conversion; of a change involving an entire reversal of views, judgments, approvals, and condemnations; a change which, with all ordinary men, involves a reversal, at least as great, of their sympathies and aversions, of what they tolerate and speak kindly of.  Let it be considered what changes of feeling most changes of religion compel and consecrate; how men, commonly and very naturally, look back on what they have left and think they have escaped from, with the aversion of a captive to his prison; how they usually exaggerate and make absolute their divergence from what they think has betrayed, fooled, and degraded them; how easily they are tempted to visit on it and on those who still cling to it their own mistakes and faults.  Let it be remembered that there was here to be told not only the history of a change, but the history of a deep disappointment, of the failure of a great design, of the breakdown of hopes the most promising and the most absorbing; and this, not in the silence of a man’s study, but in the fever and contention of a great struggle wrought up to the highest pitch of passion and fierceness, bringing with it on all sides and leaving behind it, when over, the deep sense of wrong.  It is no history of a mere intellectual movement, or of a passage from strong belief to a weakened and impaired one, to uncertainty, or vagueness, or indifference; it is not the account of a change by a man who is half sorry for his change, and speaks less hostilely of what he has left because he feels less friendly towards what he has joined.  There is no reserved thought to be discerned in the background of disappointment or a wish to go back again to where he once was.  It is a book which describes how a man, zealous and impatient for truth, thought he had found it in one Church, then thought that his finding was a delusion, and sought for it and believed he had gained it in another.  What it shows us is no serene readjustment of abstract doctrines, but the wreck and overturning of trust and conviction and the practical grounds of life, accompanied with everything to provoke, embitter, and exasperate.  It need not be said that what Dr. Newman holds he is ready to carry out to the end, or that he can speak severely of men and systems.

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Occasional Papers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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