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Tractarianism

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TRACTARIANISM, the name usually given to a system of religious opinion and prac tice promulgated within the Church of England in a series of papers published under the title of 'Tracts for the Times.> between September 1833 and March 1841. The immediate object of the writers seems to have been to rouse a large number of nominal adherents of the Church of England from their apathy, by awakening their interest in what the writers conceived to be the distinctive principles of that Church. For this end they sought to mark out a middle way be tween and what they called ultra Protestantism. The leaders in this movement were J. H. Newman, John Keble and E. B. Pusey, and they were assisted by not a few devoted adherents, such as R. H. Froude (brother of the historian), Hook, Palmer, Per seval, Isaac Williams and others. In the first stage of the movement little else was attempted than the inculcation of the peculiar and ex clusive powers of ministers episcopally ordained by the laying on of hands in a direct and un broken line from the apostles, and it was not till the publication in 1838 of the of R. H. Froude, under the joint-editorship of Newman and Keble, that any suspicion was created in the public mind of the ultimate tend encies of the movement. The volumes pub lished under that title were pervaded by an unmistakably anti-Protestant spirit, and the fact of their being edited and defended (as they afterward were) by two who were known to be leaders in the Tractarian movement caused that movement to be denounced by many who had hitherto treated it with indifference or for bearance, or had even bestowed upon it a cer tain measure of approval. From that date the

bishops began a series of charges all bear ing more or less strongly against, the authors of the tracts, and treating them not as heretics but as disturbers of the Church. Still the move ment went on more actively than ever. A mul titude of controversial writings appeared on both sides, and the tracts gradually showed more and more of a leaning to the Roman Catholic Church. At last, in Tract No. 90, written by Mr. Newman, and published in March 1841, an attempt was made to prove that there is no insurmountable barrier between the Roman Catholic and the Anglican communions; that the Thirty-nine Articles, although prepared by Protestants, are susceptible of a Catholic interpretation not inconsistent with the doc trines of the Council of Trent. On the 15th of the same month the hebdomadal board of the University of Oxford condemned the tract as teaching a mode of interpreting the Thirty nine Articles inconsistent with the statutes of the university, and the bishop of the diocese of Oxford recommended that the series of tracts should terminate with that number, which it did. A few years later (1845) Newman went over to the Church of Rome, as several of the other partakers in the movement had done be fore him. The effects of the movement can still be traced within the' English Church in the extreme development of ritualism in a sec tion of the High Church. See GREAT BarrAn(