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rational apologetic is necessary, though in the Catholic case, as there is so much more to prove, the proof must be correspondingly great and commanding. 2. It will not, I hope, be supposed that there is here any attempt at a tu quoque. It were an expedient fit only for a poor controversialist to excuse the weakness of the Protestant Churches by charging the Roman Catholic with impotence, or to hide the failure of the Catholic to hold or control her peoples by magnifying the feebleness of the Protestant. What is intended is simply to emphasize this point:the burden and responsibilities of the conflict with unbelief lies on all the Churches, and no one can say to the other, “the work is thine, not mine.” This duty, indeed, they have all on occasion been forward to recognize, and we rejoice to see men like Vives the Catholic, Pascal the Jansenist, Grotius the Arminian, Leibnitz the Lutheran, Butler the Anglican, Lardner the Presbyterian, and Schleiermacher the German Evangelical, united in unconscious harmony in doing for their several generations the same order of work. Yet it is necessary to make a distinction: an apology for Religion is not the same thing as an apology for a Church; nay, more, the best apologies for Religion have been in no respect apologies for specific Churches. Yet, while the distinction is clear, a separation is not in every case possible. If the Church is held to be the embodiment of the Religion, so necessary to it that the Religion were impossible without it, then the only complete and sufficient apology for the Religion is an apology for the Church. And this is what we have a right to expect from Roman Catholicism; what is an insufficient vindication of its claims as a Church is, from its own point of view, an inadequate defence of the Christian Religion. That is a grave aspect of the matter, burdening Roman Catholicism and Catholics with the heaviest responsibility Church or man could bear, and it is the aspect which gives significance to the question here proposed for discussion, viz., whether Catholic apologetic thought in England has given such an interpretation and defence of Religion as to make it more true and intelligible and real to critical and perplexed and doubting minds.
1. Catholicism in England cannot be discussed apart from that Anglo-Catholic movement which did so much to revive it. As to the ecclesiastico-religious effects of that movement, there is no need for discussion. These are on all sides visible enough. Its ideal of worship has modified the practice of all the Churches, even of those most hostile to its ideal of Religion. The religious spirit of England is, in all its sections and varieties, sweeter to-day than it was forty years ago, more open to the ministries of art and the graciousness of order, possessed of a larger sense of “the community of the saints,” the kinship and continuity of the Christian society in all ages. Even Scotland has been touched with a strange softness, Presbyterian worship has grown less bald, organs and liturgies have found a home in the land and Church of Knox, and some of the more susceptible sons of the Covenant have been visited by the ideal of a Church at once British and Catholic, where prelate and presbyter should dwell together in unity. On the other hand, it must be confessed, that something of the old sterner Puritan conscience against priesthoods, and all their symbols and ways, has been evoked; and in a sense not true of any time between now and the period of Laud, two ideals of Religion, each the radical contradiction of the other, stand face to face in England, and contend under the varied masks supplied by our theological, ecclesiastical, and even political controversies. The one ideal is sensuous and sacerdotal, and seeks, by the way it construes and emphasizes the idea of the Church, to secularize the State, with all our daily activities and occupations; the other ideal is spiritual and ethical, and seeks, by the way it construes and emphasizes the idea of Religion, to transform and transfigure the state, to sanctify all that belongs to the common life of man. The fundamental question is, whether an organized Church which is, alike in history and administration, not in the civil, but in the ecclesiastical sense, a political institution,-or a spiritual faith, which is in its nature a regenerative and regnant moral energy for the whole man, is to prevail; and the more obvious this question becomes, the more the issues are simplified, and men are forced to determine, whether they are to be ruled by a Church or governed by a Religion. The movement that has made or is making our people conscious of this vital issue, has rendered an extraordinary service to the men and Churches of to-day. 2. But the most remarkable ecclesiastico-religious results achieved by Anglo-Catholicism are those to be found within the two Churches chiefly concerned, the Anglican and the Roman. Though, so many of the men who inaugurated and represented the movement left the English Church, yet the spirit they had created, and many of the men they had inspired, remained within her. And the AngloCatholic ideal has continued to live and work within her like a regenerative spirit, has filled all her sons, even the most resistant, with new ambitions, has both narrowed and broadened her affections and aims, changed old antipathies into new sympathies, made her devouter in worship, and more devoted alike in her practical action and ideal ends. Rome is judged with more perfect charity, Dissenters are judged with more rigorous severity. Unity is loved, and historical continuity coveted, as the condition and channel of the most potent and needed graces. The freedom and independence of the Church has become a watchword, Erastianism a hated and unholy thing. The Sovereignty of the Redeemer has become a living faith, and the symbols that speak of His presence, and work, and activity are invested with a solemn and sacramental and even sacrificial significance, while the acts that recognize His Deity and express man’s devotion are performed with a new sense of awe and reverence. The worship has grown at once statelier and more expressive, men have become more conscious of its beauty and its power, have come to feel how completely it can articulate their needs, satisfy and uplift their souls, bring them into the company of the saintly dead and into communion with the Eternal. The Church has a deeper sense of sin and a greater love for sinners, and seeks to use her symbolism and her service to bring Christ and His salvation nearer to the hearts and consciences of men. The Catholic ideal may be to many sensuous, poor through the very wealth of its symbolism, a materialized and so depraved translation of the idea of the Kingdom, which must ever remain “ of Heaven,” that it may reign over earth; but, whatever it may be to such, no one can deny that it has been to the Church of England a spirit of life and energy. It is, especially when the historical grounds on which it rests are considered, a splendid example of the power of faith, and of the creative and transfigurative force of the religious imagination. From this point of view it has, indeed, a most pathetic side; but its pathos need not blind us to the wonderful things it has accomplished, though it may make us wonder at the power which has accomplished them. Yet we need not wonder, for of old God “chose the things that were not to bring to nought the things that were.” 3. But it is on Catholicism that the Anglo-Catholic Movement has acted most potently. It has changed its spirit and attitude to the English people, and the English people's to it, has indeed, in a sense unknown since the Reformation, made Roman Catholicism English. Catholic emancipation supplied one of the conditions of the change, but the Oxford Movement, and its issues, accomplished it. What Cardinal Newman describes as “the Protestant view of the Catholic Church’’ is an example of the remarkable limitations of his genius, his inability to understand where he does not sympathize; the “view,” though, no doubt, veraciously reminiscent, is but a series of prejudices, all the more vulgar that they were those of the cultured. What the true view is does not here concern us; only this: the English view was very much what the course of history had made it. Catholicism had been anti-English: in its interests foreign potentates had threatened England, and had tried to execute their threats; Catholics had plotted against Elizabeth, against the first James, had fought for absolutism under his son, had stood by the later Stuarts, and had intrigued for their return. Catholicism, in countries where the royal might threaten the papal supremacy, had, by the mouth of men like Suarez and Mariana, preached strong doctrines as to the duties of kings and the rights of peoples; but in seventeenth-century England, where it had everything to hope from the prince, and nothing from the people, its loyalty was to the ruler, not to the law or the ruled. And so the Catholics lived as aliens in the land, under heavy civil disabilities, with the home of their religious interest and the source of their religious inspiration elsewhere. Time brought amelioration ; Spain fell, and could launch no second Armada, raise no army England need fear; the Stuarts were expelled, and France was soon too completely broken to have either the will or the power to interfere on their behalf. Freed from fear of invasion or rebellion, the attitude of England changed. She became tolerant, came to understand what civil and religious liberty meant, celebrated, largely by persuasion of the men most radically opposed to Catholicism, one memorable moment in her process of learning by “Catholic Emancipation.” Liberty allowed a completer incorporation with the English people, a new baptism in the English spirit, a healthier, because a freer, profession of faith. And this had been prepared for from within; the saintly Challoner and the brave Milner had quickened its religious zeal; Lingard, with notable erudition and independence, had made English history its apology; and Dr. Wiseman improved the new day that had dawned by an apologetic of rare skill and eloquence. But the foreign taint still clung to Catholicism, it wanted English character and breeding, national traditions and aspirations. Even Dr. Wiseman was but an Italian priest, a professor from Rome, Irish by descent, Spanish by birth. What it wanted the Oxford Movement gave, a distinctively English quality and aspect. The men it carried over to Rome had received the most typical English education, their leader was the greatest living master of the English tongue. They had been nursed in Anglican traditions, were some of them learned Anglican divines, who could not forget their learning, or change their blood and breeding with their Church, or cancel and cast out the ancient inheritance they had so long possessed and loved. They were Catholics of an altogether new type, their memories and instincts were not of a persecuted sect, hated and alien in England, but of a Church proudly and consciously English; the superstructure of their faith and life might be Roman, but the basis was Anglican, and the superstructure had to be accommodated to the basis, not the basis to the superstructure. Cardinal Newman does not build on Thomas Aquinas or Bellarmine or Bossuet; they only supply the buttresses and pillars, the arches and gargoyles of his faith: his fundamental principles are those of Butler, he reasons when he is gravest, fallest of conviction and most anxious to convince, in the methods and on the premisses of the Analogy. For polemical purposes he is all the better a Catholic for having been an Anglican; indeed, in a very real sense, he did not cease to be an Anglican when he became a Catholic. And it is this persistence of the primitive type that has been the strength of the derived; though the men went to Rome, they yet remained English, the principles that carried them had been educed and developed within and in the interests of the Anglican Church; and so men and principles alike tended to naturalize Catholicism on the one hand, and to beget a patient and respectful hearing for it on the other. People wished to believe that men they admired and loved had acted with reason and had accepted what was reasonable; the old attitude to Romanism ceased, and a public, well-disposed for conviction, invited the best efforts of men so well able to convince.
Now, whether Catholicism has profited by this extraordinary change, and the gains that caused it, as much as she hoped to do, or might have done, or whether her once high hopes have been dashed with bitterest disappointment, is not a matter that concerns us; but here is a matter that does—the movement that made Religion more real and living to a large number of cultivated men did a true interpretative and so apologetic work. It is a blunder of the worst kind to imagine that any one form of Christianity can be served by any other being made ridiculous. It belongs to the madness of the sectary, whether Catholic or anti-Catholic, to believe that his own system grows more same as others are made to seem less rational. But the Protestant ought to be pleased to discover the reason in Catholicism, as the Catholic to find the truth in Protestantism; what makes either ridiculous makes the other less credible. For if there is difference there is also agreement, and while the difference is in man's relation to the truth, the agreement is in the most cardinal of the truths that stand related to man. If Christ lives within Catholicism, He ought to seem the more wonderful, and it the less odious to the Protestant; if within Protestantism, He ought to appear the more gracious, and it the less void of grace and truth to the Catholic. Unmeasured speech is either insincere or unveracious, and the worst unveracity is the one that denies good to be where both good and God are. Now, the movement that made many men better Christians by making them Catholics, did a good deed for Religion. By showing that there was reason in Catholicism it made history more reasonable, made, too, the honesty, saintliness, intellectual integrity and thoroughness of many schoolmen and thinkers more intelligible, and evoked the charity that dared to love and admire where religious and intellectual differences were deepest. There were, indeed, more irenical influences in the movement than the men who conducted it either imagined or desired.