In the presence of such a narrative as this, sober men will think more seriously than ever about charging their most extreme opponents with dishonesty and disregard to truth.
As we said before, this history seems to us to leave the theological question just where it was. The objections to Rome, which Dr. Newman felt so strongly once, but which yielded to other considerations, we feel as strongly still. The substantial points of the English theory, which broke down to his mind, seem to us as substantial and trustworthy as before. He failed, but we believe that, in spite of everything, England is the better for his having made his trial. Even Liberalism owes to the movement of which he was the soul much of what makes it now such a contrast, in largeness of mind and warmth, to the dry, repulsive, narrow, material Liberalism of the Reform era. He, and he mainly, has been the source, often unrecognised and unsuspected, of depth and richness and beauty, and the strong passion for what is genuine and real, in our religious teaching. Other men, other preachers, have taken up his thoughts and decked them out, and had the credit of being greater than their master.
In looking back on the various turns and vicissitudes of his English course, we, who inherit the fruits of that glorious failure, should speak respectfully and considerately where we do not agree with him, and with deep gratitude—all the more that now so much lies between us—where we do. But the review makes us feel more than ever that the English Church, whose sturdy strength he underrated, and whose irregular theories provoked him, was fully worthy of the interest and the labours of the leader who despaired of her. Anglicanism has so far outlived its revolutions, early and late ones, has marched on in a distinct path, has developed a theology, has consolidated an organisation, has formed a character and tone, has been the organ of a living spirit. The “magnetic storms” of thought which sweep over the world may be destructive and dangerous to it, as much as, but not more than, to other bodies which claim to be Churches and to represent the message of God. But there is nothing to make us think that, in the trials which may be in store, the English Church will fail while others hold their own.
DR. NEWMAN ON THE “EIRENICON"
The Times, 31st March 1866.
Dr. Pusey’s Appeal has received more than one answer. These answers, from the Roman Catholic side, are—what it was plain that they would be—assurances to him that he looks at the question from an entirely mistaken point of view; that it is, of course, very right and good of him to wish for peace and union, but that there is only one way of peace and union—unconditional submission. He may have peace and union for himself at any moment, if he will; so may the English Church, or the Greek Church, or any other religious body, organised or unorganised.