[Letter of John James Taylor to Francis William Newman.]
May 7th, 1848
I waited to reply to your letter, till I had heard from Dr. Hutton. I enclose his letter.—I transcribed all that part of your letter which bore on the subject of the Book of Prayers;* but begged him to consider my communication as in some degree confidential. I think he misunderstands your proposed division of the several parts of prayer—especially the conclusions. He evidently attaches much importance to a somewhat strict definition of "Divine Mission." That is one of the technical phrases of theology which tends to separate men who are agreed in spirit. All who cherish the spirit of Christ are to me Christians; and I think I could shew that some of the early Fathers were of the same opinion. Christ's life and preaching—and their lasting effects on the moral condition of the world—even taking into view all the corruptions which Christian institutions have indirectly occasioned—prove to my mind, that Christ was a true Prophet of God—the purest and best that ever lived: and therefore, however freely I may feel myself compelled to interpret some of the historical documents of Christianity—I think myself entitled to the name of Christian, and I rejoice in the many devout and benevolent sympathies which it opens to me. But many of my friends think such a faith vague and unsatisfactory.—I shall be glad to contribute what I can to your design—if you persevere in it, and if you will allow me a little time, for I shall be much occupied till the end of the Session.—The notice of Sterling's Remains in the Prospective is by Mr. M. Milnes. Judging from the extracts which he has himself made, I think he hardly does justice to the depth and tenderness of Sterling's religious character. What was critical in his mind seems to have had no affinity with hardness and irreverence, but to have sprung from his pure love of goodness and truth. At present I know the book only from reviews.—I have read with much interest your pamphlet on Financial and Organic Reform. It is very suggestive. Perhaps practical men will say, you have started too many objects at once, and that the changes you propose to introduce into our institutions are too rapid and multifarious, and too much as variance with the existing analogies of the Constitution. Could such changes be carried? Have we not all a little overrated the importance of the Chartists? Perhaps I want boldness and decision; but I would rather seize on actual grievances, financial and electoral, and get public opinion powerfully to bear on them for their removal, than open a door to wide organic change. Have you seen Charles Knight's Voice of the People? The three first Nos. contain some very good things. His remedies he has yet to propound.
"*A proposed collection of Prayers for the Morning Worship of Students at University Hall" (Thom, fn., 1: 261).