Edward Short, who sent me the review copy of this new volume in the Newman Millennium Edition, provides a most comprehensive introduction, describing the occasion of Newman's lectures, the location, the press coverage, Newman's composition of the lectures, and the autobiographical nature of the lectures (his look back at his participation in the Oxford Movement was almost a rehearsal for the Apologia pro Vita Sua 14 years later). Short also provides a precis for each of the lectures, and extensive commentary on the critical reaction to them, from newspapers at the time, William Makepeace Thackeray, John Mason Neale, J.M. Capes (who left the Church of the England for the Catholic Church and then left the Catholic Church to return to the Church of England), and other contemporaries--but also Christopher Dawson, Owen Chadwick, ("the doyen of Newman detractors"), John Griffin, Newman biographer Ian Ker, Robert Pattison (author of The Great Dissent), and Stanley L. Jaki, OSB, the previous editor of these lectures (Real-View Books).
Short's footnotes, which are sometimes so long that the text at the top of the page may be only two or three lines, are equally comprehensive, identifying people, texts, and even the context of Newman's mention and use of those cited sources. I admit that sometimes I merely scanned the notes while reading the text while in the midst of Newman's argument, but they provide great resources for understanding the argument, notwithstanding.
In Part Two of the these lectures, after offering the remaining members of the Movement of 1833--notice that name used by Newman dates the Oxford Movement, placing it in the past--evidence of their parlous position in the Church of England, he admits that these arguments have mainly been negative. Now he will offer more positive arguments to deny their views of the Catholic Church based on five issues:
- The Social State of Catholic Countries (not evidence against the Sanctity of the Catholic Church)
- The Religious State of Catholics (not evidence against the Sanctity of the Catholic Church either)
- Differences among Catholics (not evidence against the Unity of the Catholic Church)
- Heretical and Schismatical Bodies within the Catholic Church (not evidence against the Catholicity--universality--of the Catholic Church)
- Ecclesiastical History of the Catholic Church (not evidence against the apostolicity--the unbroken line of Tradition--of the Catholic Church)
What, then, you are saying comes, in fact, to this: We would rather deny our initial principles, than accept such a development of them as the communion of Rome, viewed as it is; we would rather believe Erastianism, and all its train of consequences, to be from God, than the religion of such countries as France and Belgium, Spain and Italy. This is what you must mean to say, and nothing short of it. (pp. 264-265)
The world believes in the world's ends as the greatest of goods; it wishes society to be governed simply and entirely for the sake of this world. Provided it could gain one little islet in the ocean, one foot upon the coast, if it could cheapen tea by sixpence a pound, or make its flag respected among the Esquimaux or Otaheitans, at the cost of a hundred lives and a hundred souls, it would think it a very good bargain. What does it know of hell? it disbelieves it; it spits upon, it abominates, it curses its very name and notion. Next, as to the devil, it does not believe in him either. We next come to the flesh, and it is "free to confess" that it does not think there is any great harm in following the instincts of that nature which, perhaps it goes on to say, God has given. How could it be otherwise? who ever heard of the world fighting against the flesh and the devil? Well, then, what is its notion of evil? Evil, says the world, is whatever is an offence to me, whatever obscures my majesty, whatever disturbs my peace. Order, tranquillity, popular contentment, plenty, prosperity, advance in arts and sciences, literature, refinement, splendour, this is my millennium, or rather my elysium, my swerga; I acknowledge no whole, no individuality, but my own; the units which compose me are but parts of me; they have no perfection in themselves; no end but in me; in my glory is their bliss, and in the hidings of my countenance they come to nought.
Such is the philosophy and practice of the world;—now the Church looks and moves in a simply opposite direction. It contemplates, not the whole, but the parts; not a nation, but the men who form it; not society in the first place, but in the second place, and in the first place individuals; it looks beyond the outward act, on and into the thought, the motive, the intention, and the will; it looks beyond the world, and detects and moves against the devil, who is sitting in ambush behind it. It has, then, a foe in view; nay, it has a battle-field, to which the world is blind; its proper battle-field is the heart of the individual, and its true foe is Satan.
My dear brethren, do not think I am declaiming in the air or translating the pages of some old worm-eaten homily; as I have already said, I bear my own testimony to what has been brought home to me most closely and vividly as a matter of fact since I have been a Catholic; viz., that that mighty world-wide Church, like her Divine Author, regards, consults for, labours for the individual soul; she looks at the souls for whom Christ died, and who are made over to her; and her one object, for which everything is sacrificed—appearances, reputation, worldly triumph—is to acquit herself well of this most awful responsibility. Her one duty is to bring forward the elect to salvation, and to make them as many as she can:—to take offences out of their path, to warn them of sin, to rescue them from evil, to convert them, to teach them, to feed them, to protect them, and to perfect them. (pp. 267-269)
Image Credit: (Used under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license) Statue outside the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, popularly known as Brompton Oratory, in London (the second location of the London Oratory; Newman presented these lectures at the King William Street location)