AGAINST THE TRACTARIAN PARTY.
To the Right Honourable Lord Ashley and other Lay Members of the Untied Church of England and Ireland.
We have received, and have had for some time under our consideration, the Letter addressed to us by your lordship and other gentlemen, in our character as the responsible Governors of the University of Oxford, on the subject of sentiments diffused by means of various publications, sent forth within the last few years, by several distinguished members of the University, the tendency of which, it has grieved you to observe, has been to excite dissatisfaction with the principles of our Reformed Church, as embodied in the Book of Common Prayer, and especially in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion.
After stating the opinion of your lordship, and of the gentlemen who with your lordship have signed this letter, of the great national evils which will be the result of any deviation from the protestant character of the Church of England, and the alarm with which you have observed symptoms of such deviation, which have appeared in the opinions avowed by some whose station in the University gives them extensive influence over the younger portion of the academical body;
Your lordship, and the gentlemen who with your lordship have signed this letter, call upon us, the Authorities of the University, to take such steps as are open to us for protecting the youth committed to our superintending care from the dangerous influence referred to, and for securing to them, for the future, such tuition as is in strict accordance with the Protestant Church of England and the constitution of these realms.
It is undoubtedly true, that within the last few years certain tracts or pamphlets have been published by several distinguished members of the University, containing opinions and sentiments, considered by many to be not conformable to, or consistent with, the doctrines of the Reformed Protestant Church of England, as embodied in the Book of Common Prayer, and in the articles of religion called "The Thirty-nine Articles."
The opinions and doctrines contained in these tracts or pamphlets have been considered, discussed, and replied to in other publications, and those discussions have, at different times, attracted more or less of the public attention.
Against the prevalence, however, of erroneous opinions among its members generally, the University possesses a safeguard in the statute enacted more than two centuries ago, which provides that every candidate for matriculation should subscribe the Thirty-nine Articles; and every candidate for a degree should again subscribe the Thirty-nine Articles and in addition thereto, the Three Articles in 36 th Canon.
The authorities of the University have not lost sight of their duty in enforcing a strict compliance with this statute; not have they shown themselves indifferent to the improvement of religious instruction within the University. For when her Majesty was enabled, by recent acts of the legislature, to provide for the foundation, maintenance, and regulation of the additional Professorships of Divinity the authorities of the University, with the assistance of Convocation, adopted every measure for which they were competent to carry into execution the views of the government and of parliament. And they trust that, by perseverance, in a course of moderation and watchfulness, they will be enabled, under the Divine blessing, to train up the youth committed to their care in the pure principles of the Reformed Church of England.
WELLINGTON , Chancellor,
P. WINTER, Vice Chancellor,
Oh behalf of the Heads of Houses.