Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

WERE THEY DECADENT?

211

approbation of the aged Simeon. In the Bible Society controversy, too, almost all the Evangelical leaders were opposed to any test.

So far from their churches being neglected, they were probably the best kept in the whole country. True, there was little decoration. It did not occur to them that high-backed pews and heavy galleries were ugly, so long as they were thronged with people eager to worship God. But the roof was always watertight, and the walls in repair, and mushrooms could not thrive in pews that were so often used. As to their personal religious life, it is enough to quote two quite impartial witnesses. Speaking of a period a little later, when the decadence, if it had existed, would have been even more obvious, Mr. G. W. E. Russell writes: "I recall an abiding sense of religious responsibility, a self-sacrificing energy in works of mercy, an evangelistic zeal, an aloofness from the world, and a level of saintliness in daily life such as I do not expect again to see realised on earth. Everything down to the minutest details of action and speech was considered with reference to eternity. Daily duty was done as in the Great Taskmaster's eye. Money was regarded as a sacred trust, and people of good positions and comfortable incomes habitually kept their expenditure within narrow limits that they might contribute more largely to objects which they held sacred. The Evangelicals were the most religious people whom I have ever known." "The deepest and most fervid religion in

1 The Household of Faith, p. 232.

England," wrote Liddon in his Life of Pusey,1" during the first three decades of this century was that of the Evangelicals."

FOR FURTHER STUDY. Overton's English Church in the Nineteenth Century, 1800-1833. Stoughton's Religion in England, 1800-1850. Moule's Evangelical School in the Church of England. Memoirs of T. F. Buxton, by his son. Stephen's Slavery of the West India Colonies Delineated. Hodder's Life of the Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury. Engels' Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844. Hutchins' History of Factory Legislation. Report of Select Committee on Factory Children's Labour, 1831. Children's Employment Commission: Second Report, 1843. Wing's Evils of the Factory System. Life of Chas. Sumner, by his son. Bateman's Life of Bishop Wilson. Marsden's Memoirs of Hugh Stowell. Life of Wm. Marsh, by his daughter. Bateman's Life of H. V. Elliott. Alexander Haldane: A Biographical Sketch. Dictionary of National Biography-Biddulph, Blunt, Buxton, Close, A. A. Cooper, Cunningham, Dale, Dealtry, E. B. Elliott, H. V. Elliott, McNeile, Marsh, Ryder, Stowell, C. R. Sumner, J. B. Sumner, Wilson.

1 Vol. I, p. 255.

CHAPTER VIII

THE CLOUD OF CONTROVERSY

"Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.”

IN

N almost all the great religions it is possible to discern two schools of worshippers, one ceremonial, sacerdotal, sacrificial, thinking much of valid rites and consecrated places, the other seeking direct personal access to the Deity, and thinking mainly of the inner life of the individual soul. It was so in ancient Egypt; it is so in India to-day. In Greece some gathered round the Oracle and the Altar; others, no less devout, gathered round the Academy and the Porch. In Judaism the priest made his appeal through the symbolism of the sanctuary; the Prophet made his appeal direct to the conscience and the heart. Within the Christian Church also both these schools are found, and, though they came into violent conflict at the Reformation, the Church of England managed to retain many of either section, so that from the sixteenth century onward she has had among her members some who regard the Christian life as primarily guided by a Church, and others who regard it as primarily inspired by a

The Oxford
Movement.

Religion. We have watched the awakening of the latter school to great strength and vigour. The time had now come when the former ideal, which had been lying dormant in scores of country parsonages, would also assert its claim to be considered. First Keble dreamed dreams in his country curacy. Then Hurrell Froude, his eager disciple, brought those dreams to Oxford, and won his chief convert, John Henry Newman. Newman had once been an Evangelical; he owed his soul, he said,1 to Scott the commentator, and had been Secretary of the Oxford Association of the Church Missionary Society;2 but in the atmosphere of the Oriel common-room his early faith had withered, and when Froude captured him he was drifting towards unbelief. In many ways the moment was propitious (1833) for trying to revive the idea of the majesty and authority of the Church. A Whig ministry had told the Bishops to set their house in order. Ten Irish sees had been suppressed by Act of Parliament. Dr. Arnold was

1 Apologia, chap. I.

2 Later he formed an ingenious plan for capturing this Society. In 1830 he wrote and privately circulated a pamphlet, Suggestions in Behalf of the Church Missionary Society, by a Master of Arts, urging High Churchmen to take advantage of the rule by which all clergy who subscribe are members of the Committee, and in this way to obtain control of the Society, and "annex it to the Christian Knowledge and Propagation Societies." Five hundred copies of the pamphlet were distributed, but the scheme did not commend itself (to his friends. "Very few," wrote Mozley, approve of the plan or think it practicable." See Newman's Letters, Vol. I, and The Via Media, Vol. II.

[ocr errors]

"TRACTS FOR THE TIMES”

215

propounding schemes for union with Dissenters; and the old-fashioned High Church clergy were stirred as they had not been stirred since the days of Sacheverell.

The Tracts.

Newman had learned as an Evangelical the power and the value of tracts, and he planned a series of pamphlets deliberately intended to startle, "as a man might give notice of a fire."1 Zealous friends rode about England distributing bundles of them, but the scheme seemed a failure. "The Tracts are defunct or in extremis," he wrote two years later,2" Rivington has written to say that they do not answer." At this moment Pusey definitely threw in his lot with the party, a man of deep and contagious earnestness and wide and curious learning. 3 "Without him," said Newman, "we should have had little chance." He changed altogether the character of the Tracts. No. LXVII was no leaflet but a long treatise, and it was followed by others of a similar character. Their success was immediate. "The Tracts have taken to selling so well," wrote Newman in 1837,4" that Rivington has recommended double editions." Churchmen of every school began to realise that this group of Oxford friends was a force that could not be ignored.

Hitherto the movement had encountered little opposition from Evangelicals. The Tracts were

1 Advertisement to Vol. III of Tracts.

2 Letter to Froude, August 9, 1835. Letters and Correspondence.

3 Apologia, chap. II.

• Life of Manning, I, 225.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »