The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XII. The Romantic Revival.

XII. The Oxford Movement

§ 5. Tract 90

Newman, in tract 90, repeated the argument of Sta. Clara in Charles I’s time that the XXXIX Articles could not historically be directed against the council of Trent and were at least patient of an interpretation accordant with the theology of the catholic church. Such an argument was familiar enough and could only alarm the ignorant. But this it effectually did. The heads of houses awoke from torpor, and, except the patriarch president of Magdalen and the rector of Exeter, under the influence of four college tutors (one of whom, Archibald Campbell Tait, of Balliol, lived to become archbishop of Canterbury), condemned the tract in March, 1841. Bishops “charged” against the author, and, at the same time, the English church seemed committed to an agreement with Prussian protestantism in the creation of a bishopric for Jerusalem. And then Newman himself received a serious blow to his own intellectual stability. The confidence of his studies in the history of the early church was abruptly broken by an article in The Dublin Review, September, 1839, on the Donatists, written by Wiseman, the leader of the new and dominant party among the English Roman catholics. Other points in the story of ancient heresies seemed to him to look the same way. The “palmary words” of St. Augustine, securus judicat orbis terrarum, struck him in a new light. The bishops’ condemnation weighed heavily on him, and he began to feel that he could not remain in a church which did not allow his sense of the Articles. Early in 1842, he left Oxford and went to live three miles away, but still in his parish, at Littlemore. He resigned his living in September, 1843, and withdrew into lay communion. His last sermon, a lament of singular beauty for the church of England, was preached at Littlemore, on 25 September, 1843. Already, a sermon by Pusey, which a little knowledge of seventeenth century theology would have shown never to have travelled beyond the limits of the Caroline divines, had been condemned by the heads of houses, without a hearing or any statement of reasons.