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Accordingly, these writers are no longer to be regarded as individuals merely, but as leaders, representatives of whole classes ; organs, giving utterance, with a faltering voice, to the uneasiness, doubts, and struggles that agitate the breasts of thousands of their Protestant country
If there be one impression that has seized on the minds of all sects and parties, except themselves, with the
grasp of a conviction, it is, that the Oxford movement must lead its votaries into the bosom of the Catholic Church. There is but one other alternative possible ; and that is, that they should abandon the ground they have taken, retreat to the point from which they started, and rest satisfied with the religion which the laws of their country have prescribed for them. It is, however, a painful contest, between the spirit and the flesh. May Almighty God strengthen them by His grace, to accomplish the sacrifice which will best promote His glory, and secure their own salvation.
But the social, as well as religious condition of England, at the present time, is enough to convince wise men that the country requires a spiritual renovation, which the barrenness of Protestantism is incapable of producing. The moral sympathies, that should knit and bind together all classes, have been ruptured or dissolved. The wealthy aristocracy, the poor, and the middle classes, which should blend into each other at a thousand points of social and religious contact, are as distinct and separate, except in the material relations of self-interest, as the castes of Hindooism. Pauperism, unknown in that country during Catholic times, is now universal throughout the land. The domains of the monasteries, and of the Church, were formerly the patrimony of the poor, of which the monks and clergy were as the administrators for their benefit; now these domains belong to the princes of Protestantism; and for the poor, wurk-houses have been constructed from the ruins of the abbeys. In Catholic times, the clergy, by their state of voluntary celibacy, lest the resources of the poor alınost undiminished ; now, ihe whole church-livings are hardly sufficient for the extravagant modes of lile and domestic ambitions of the married clergy. 'The extent of ignorance among the working classes, respecting the first principles of Chris
tianity, would be incredible were it not attested by Reports of Parliamentary Committees. So that whether you regard the gilded corruptions of excessive wealth, on the one side ; or the squalid depravities of extreme destitution, on the other; or contemplate the ignorance of religion, the infidelity, and desperate confederations of those who occupy the middle ground between them, it will appear evident, that the regeneration of such a people, even under the social aspect, requires the presence and the action of a religion which can infuse into its masses the warmth and vitality of the Christian virtues reduced into daily practice.
In alluding to these things as betraying, to the eyes of discerning Protestants themselves, the evidences of a moral and religious want, which the established Church is obviously, through its own intrinsic deficiency, unqualified to supply, we would by no means present them as the only, or even a prominent cause, of the general movement which is now going on in England, in the direction of a return to the Catholic faith. No; we would rather believe, humbly, that the progress of this movement is directed through the operation of that Grace which is invoked by the united prayer of millions, for the conversion of the English nation. But neither is it to be forgotten, that God, in His designs of mercy, may make use of outward sings, as well as interior convictions, to hasten the period of their accomplishment. He must be but a superficial reader of things, who does not see in the actual condition of England, what a powerful vindication of the Catholic faith, has been wrought out by the silent progress of human events—and what a deep stamp of failure has been fixed on Protestantism, as a social and religious experiment, by the same unspeaking, but intelligible test. It can hardly be supposed, that it was the mere learning or piety of the Oxford Divines, that has won for their views the sympathy and approbation of high secular powers in the state. Statesmen, no less than theologians, have advocated, and continue to advocate their views; and although these views do not yet avow the adoption of the whole Catholic truth, still, they are manifestly adverse to the essential principles of the entire Protestant system. Now, it is worthy of remark, that in every defence of these views
which they have deemed it expedient to put forth, the moral and social, as well as religious condition of the country, entered into their grounds of justification. Indeed, so much is this the case, that it is avowed in the brief title prefixed to the writings by which they have become so celebrated, “ Tracts FOR The Times.”
It is remarkable, under this view of the subject, that the Oxford Divines should have overlooked the matter which is treated of in the following pages. Ainong all the errors owing their birth to the innovations of the sixteenth century, there is not one so subtle as that which the Reformers adopted on the subject of justification by faith alone. It lies at the root of the whole system of Protestantism. It pervades, with but little modification, the doctrine of all the various sects, comprised under that comprehensive term. To it may be traced the peculiar and distinctive moral, as well as social features, that characterise every community or nation in which it has prevailed. It has chilled every generous emotion of selfsacrifice, and Christian heroism, which the charities of the Christian religion are wont to excite in the human breast, and which the ancient faith knows so well how to cherish, and ripen into the means of temporal and eternal benedictions to the whole human race. Why is it that Protestantism has produced no institutions for the welfare of mankind, which can be traced to the inward efficacy of any of its principles, acting on the human heart and soul? No universities, no hospitals, no churches, no asylums for the poor. Some of all these, it has unquestionably produced ; but there is not so much as one, that can be traced to the inward power of any principle of Protestantism operating silently and secreily in the souls of men.
Human legislation will be found to have intervened in all the Protestant countries of Europe; whereas those same countries had been almost paved with such institutions, resulting from the inward operation, without the aid of human laws, of the Catholic faith, in the hearts of men, before Protestantism began. Why has the latter system never produced a Xavier, an Order for the redemption of captives, a Vincent of Paul, or even a Sister of Charity? No one could fill the place of either of these, without being prepared to offer himself a daily sacrifice, or if need be, once
for all, for the good of his neighbor, which is only the second part of the Lord's commandment, carried to its point of heroism ; and why is it that Protestantism has never been able to inspire this heroism into a single member of its communion ? Who has ever heard even of a Protestant Sister of Charity ?
We know, indeed, that such works have a place in the theory of the Protestant system; but in that theory itself, their sphere is restricted ; within it, too, they are controlled by an arbitrary rule of divine economy; and even then, they are pronounced utterly unprofitable to the soul of him who performs them! How, then, can the 'Tractarians realize, in the Anglican communion, so long as this doctrine is not repudiated, those practical results which religion, operating internally on the hearts of men, is constantly producing in Catholic lands? Do men gather figs of thorns, or grapes of thistles ?
Still, it must be admitted, that the idea of justification by faith alone, as it presents itself to minds trained up in the Protestant system, is plausible and seductive. As this subject, however, is seldom treated of in a popular way, it
may be well to give a brief statement of the question, and a definition of the terms involved in it.
" Justification” is that action or operation of Divine Grace on the soul, by which a man passes from the state of sin; from an enemy, becomes a friend of God, agreeable in the Divine Sight, and an heir to eternal life. This act of transition from the one state to the other, with its operating causes, is called "justification.” From the circumstance of its being a spiritual and interior operation, it is evident that it affords an opportunity for theological subtleties, to those who would make use of it ; and, at the same time, renders it difficult to expose the error which those subtleties
may be employed to foster. The Church, therefore, has always preserved her ancient and orthodox teaching under the form of sound words- which heresy has ever betrayed itself by refusing to adopt.
Thus, in both communions justification is acknowledged to be, as to its efficient source, from and through, and by Jesus Christ, alone. But in the Catholic system, this justification, occurring in the modes of the Saviour's appointment, is not only the imputation, but also the interior
application of the justice of Christ, by which guilt is destroyed, pardon bestowed, and the soul replenished by the inherent grace and charity of the Holy SPIRIT.
According to the Protestant principle, justification is when a man believes with a firm and certain faith or con. viction, in his own mind, that the justice of Christ is “imputed” to him. This is that “ faith alone,” by which they profess to be saved. The sacraments, for them, have no other end or efficacy, except as signs to awaken this individual and personal faith, so called, and as tokens of communion. Neither is it, that any intrinsic or interior operation takes place in the soul, by this, in which she is changed by a transition from the state of sin, now remitted and destroyed, to a state of justice wrought for her and in her, hy the application of the merits and infusion of the grace of Christ.
No; this is the Catholic doctrine. But according to the Protestant principle, no such change takes place. According to that principle, the impious man is not made just, even by the adoption of God, or the merits of Christ. But leaving him in his injustice, it is conceived that his sins are no longer imputed to him, but that the justice of Christ is imputed to him. Thus, a criminal is under guilt and condemnation; but in consideration of a powerful and innocent intercessor, the chief magistrate pardons him. It is only by a certain fiction of thought and language that such a person can be considered innocent ; or that his intrinsic guilt can be conceived of as still existing, but as imputed to the one who interceded for him, and the justice of ihat intercessor imputed to him. Such is the exact likeness of justification as taught in the theology of Protestantisın. But it is to be observed, that the sphere which is assigned as the seat of this species of fiction, is the mind of God himself! The sinner is not intrinsically, or really justified, in this system ; but we are told that God, on account of the merits of Christ, is pleased to regard and “repute” him as such ; that is, God “reputes” him to be, what, in reality, He knows him not to be!
St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, speaks of the faith of Abraham as having been reputed to him unto justice. And Luther, to meet the exigencies of his case, seized on the letter of this passage, and distorted its spirit and meaning. God had made rich promises to Abraham