AUTHORIZED BIBLE VIDICATED
Westcott and Hort
IT IS interesting at this juncture to take a glance at
Doctors Westcott and Hort, the dominating mentalities of the
scheme of Revision, principally in that period of their lives
before they sat on the Revision Committee. They were working
together twenty years before Revision began, and swept the
Revision Committee along with them after work commenced. Mainly
from their own letters, partly from the comments of their
respective sons, who collected and published their lives and
letters, we shall here state the principles which affected their
deeper lives. (Wilkinson gives the footnotes, as he does in all
chapters - which I have mainly omitted - Keith Hunt)
THEIR HIGHER CRITICISM
WESTCOTT writes to his fiancee, Advent Sunday, 1847:
"All stigmatize him (Dr.Hampden) as a 'heretic' ... If he be
condemned, what will become of me! ... The battle of the
Inspiration of Scripture has yet to be fought, and how earnestly
I could pray that I might aid the truth in that."
WESTCOTT'S son comments, 1903:
"My father ... believed that the charges of being 'unsafe' and of
'Germanizing' brought against him were unjust."
HORT writes to Rev.Rowland Williams, October 21, 1858:
"Further I agree with them (authors of "Essays and Reviews") in
condemning many leading specific doctrines of the popular
theology ... Evangelicals seem to me perverted rather than
untrue. There are, I fear, still more serious differences between
us on the subject of authority, and especially the authority of
HORT writes to Rev.John Ellerton, Aprii 3, 1860:
"But the book which has most engaged me is Dawin. Whatever may be
thought of it, it is a book that one is proud to be contemporary
with ... My feeling is strong that the theory is unanswerable. If
so, it opens up a new period."
WESTCOTT writes from France to his fiancee, 1847:
"After leaving the monastery, we shaped our course to a little
oratory which we discovered on the summit of a neighboring hill.
... Fortunately we found the door open. It is very small, with
one kneeling-place; and behind a screen was a 'Pieta' the size of
life (i.e. a Virgin and dead Christ) ... Had I been alone I could
have knelt there for hours."
WESTCOTT writes to Archbishop Benson, November 17, 1865:
"I wish I could see to what forgotten truth Mariolatry bears
HORT writes to Westcott:
"I am very far from pretending to understand completely the
oft-renewed vitality of Mariolatry "
HORT writes to Westeott, October 17, 1865:
"I have been persuaded for many years that Maryworship and
'Jesus'-worship have very much in common in their causes and
HORT writes to Westcot:
"But this last error can hardly be expelled till Protestants
unlearn the crazy horror of the idea of priesthood."
HORT writes to Dr Lightfoot, October 26, 1867:
"But you knew I am a staunch sacerdotalist."
DR.HORT FALLS UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF MAURICE, COLERIDGE, WINER,
AND COMTEHORT - writes to Dr.Harold Brown, (Bishop of Eli),
November 8, 1871:
"Moreover, Mr.Maurice has been a dear friend of mine for
twenty-three years, and I have been deeply influenced by his
books." Frederick Maurice, the son of a Unitarian minister, and
brilliant student of Oxford and Cambridge Universities, became a
clergyman in the Church of England. He had a commanding influence
upon the leaders of his day, especially upon Dr.Hort. Maurice was
dismissed from his position as principal of King's College,
London, on charges of heresy.
HORT'S son says of his father:
"In undergraduate days, if not before, he came under the spell of
HORT writes to Rev.John Ellerton, October 21, 1851:
"You cannot imagine his (Carlyle's) bitter hatred of Coleridge,
to whom he (truly enough) ascribes the existence of 'Puseyism.'"
HORT writes to W.F.Moulton, July 17, 1870:
"It has long been on my mind to write and thank you for a copy of
your Winer which reached me, I am shocked to find, four months
ago.... We shall all, I doubt not, learn much by discussion in
the New Testament Company."
WESTCOTT says in the preface to a volume of Westminster Sermons:
"Those who are familiar with recent theories of social morality
will recognize how much I owe to two writers who are not often
joined together in an acknowledgment of deep gratitude - Comte
THEIR SPIRITUALISM WESTCOTT'S son writes:
"The 'Ghostlie Guild,' which numbers amongst its
members A.Barry, E.W.Benson, H.Bradshaw, the Hon. A.Gordon. F.J.
A.Hort, H.Luard, and C.B.Scott, was established for the
investigation of all supernatural appearances and effects.
Westcott took a leading part in their proceedings, and the
inquiry circular was originally drawn up by him."
WESTCOTT'S son writes, speaking of his father:
"The Communion of Saints, sums peculiarly associated with
Peterborough ... He had an extraordinary power of realizing this
communion. It was his delight to be alone at night in the great
'Cathedral,' for there he could meditate and pray in full
sympathy with all that was good and great in the past. I have
been with him there on a moonlight evening, when the vast
building was haunted with strange lights and shades, and the
ticking of the great clock sounded like some giant's footsteps in
the deep silence. Then he had always abundant company. Once a
daughter, in later years, met him returning from one of his
customary meditations in the solitary darkness of the chapel at
Auckland Castle, and she said to him, 'I expect you do not feel
alone?' 'Oh no,' he said, 'it is full.'"
HORT writes to Rev.John Ellerton, December 29, 1851:
"Westcott, Gorham, C.B.Scott, Benson, Bradshaw, Luard, etc., and
I have started a society for the investigation of ghosts and all
supernatural appearances and effects, being all disposed to
believe that such things really exist, and ought to be
discriminated from hoaxes and mere subjective disillusions.
WESTCOTT wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury:
"It does not seem to me that the Vaudois claim an ecclesiastical
recognition. The position of the small Protestant bodies on the
Continent, is, no doubt, one of great difficulty. But our church
can, I think, only deal with churches growing to fuller life."
HORT writes to Westcott, September 23, 1864:
"I believe Coleridge was quite right in saying that Christianity
without a substantial church is vanity and disillusion; and I
remember shocking you and Lightfoot not so long ago by expressing
a belief that 'Protestantism' is only parenthetical and
"Perfect Catholicity has been nowhere since the Reformation."
WESTCOTT writes to his fiancee, January 6, 1848:
"You can scarcely tell how I felt when I found we had to sign
some declaration before the degree (A.B.). I feared it might be
of an assent to the Thirty-nine Articles, and that I dare not
WESTCOTT'S son writes:
"In 1881 he was appointed by Mr.Gladstone a member of the
Ecclesiastical Courts Commision ... It did valuable service to
the Church of England in that it asserted its continuity, and
'went behind the Reformation.' In speaking of Archbishop Benson's
work on this Commission, my father says: 'It was my happiness to
it by Benson's side, and to watch as he did with unflagging
interest the gradual determination of the relations in which a
national church must stand to the nation....
The ruling ideas of the Lincoln Judgment were really defined by
It will be remembered that Archbishop Benson's ruling in
this judgment constituted the greatest victory for ritualism, and
the most serious defeat for Protestantism. In fact it discouraged
"Nothing remains but to assert our complete independence of
Convocation ... If the (Revision) Company accept the dictation_
of Convocation, my work must end." These words he wrote to Dr.
Hort when Southern Convocation practically asked them to dismiss
the Unitarian scholar from the New Testament Revision Committee.
HORT writes to Westcott, September 23, 1864:
"Within that world Anglicanism, though by no means without a
sound standing, seems a poor and maimed thing beside great Rome."
HORT writes to his father, December 14, 1846:
"In fact his (Dr Mill's) whole course lay in misrepresentation,
confounding Evangelicalism with Methodism, which last is worse
than popery, as being more insidious."
HORT writes to Rev.John Ellerton, September 25, 1862:
"It cannot be wrong to desire and pray from the bottom of one's
heart that the American Union may be shivered to pieces."
"Lincoln is, I think, almost free from the nearly universal
dishonesty of American politicians (his letter to Greely I know
nothing about). I cannot see that he has shown any special
virtues or statesmanlike capacities."
THEIR ANTI-BIBLE DOCTRINES
WESTCOTT writes to Mr.Wickenden, October 26, 1861:
"I was much occupied with anxious thoughts about the possible
duty of offering myself for the Hulsean Professorship at
Cambridge. I had little wish, and no hope, for success, but I was
inclined to pretest against the imputations of heresy and the
like which have been made against me."
HoRT writes to Mr.A.Macmillan:
"About Darwin, I have been reading and thinking a good deal; and
am getting to see my way comparatively clearly, and to be also
more desirous to say something."
HORT writes to Westcott:
"You seem to me to make (Greek) philosophy worthIess for those
who have received the Christian revelation. To me, though in a
hazy way, it seems full of precious truth of which I find
nothing, and should be very much astonished and perplexed to find
anything, in revelation."
THEIR TENDENCY TO EVOLUTION
WESTCOTT writes to the Archbishop of Canterbury on 0.T.
Criticism, March 4,1890:
"No one now, I suppose, holds that the first three chapters of
Genesis, for example, give a literal history - I could never
understand how any one reading them with open eyes could think
HORT writes to Mr.John Ellerton:
"I am inclined to think that no such state as 'Eden' (I mean the
popular notion) ever existed, and that Adam's fall in no degree
differed from the fall of each of his descendants, as Coleridge
WESTCOTT writes to his fiancee:
"Today I have again taken up Tracts for the Times and Dr.Newman.
Don't tell me that he will do me harm. At least today he will,
has, done me good, and had you been here I should have asked you
to read his solemn words to me. My purchase has already amply
repaid me. I think I shall choose a volume for one of my
WESTCOTT writes to Hort, September 22, 1864:
"My summer was not as fruitful as I had wished; or rather, it was
not fruitful in the way I had wished. Dr.Newman's 'Apologia' cut
across it, and opened thoughts which I thought had been sealed
forever. These haunted me like spectres and left little rest."
HORT writes to Rev.John Ellerton, February 25, 1869:
"It is hard to resist a vague feeling that Westcott's going to
Peterborough will be the beginning of a great movement in the
church, less conspicuous, but not less powerful, than that which
proceeded from Newman."
HORT writes to his wife, July 25, 1864:
"How inexpressibly green and ignorant (Blank) must be, to be
discovering Newman's greatness and goodness now for the first
The above quotation shows Hort's contempt for anyone who is
slow in discovering Newman's greatness and goodness.
We have already noticed Westcott's associated work with
Archbishop Benson in protecting ritualism and giving the most
striking blow which discouraged Protestantism.
HORT writes to Mr.John Ellerton, July 6, 1848:
"The pure Romish view seems to me nearer, and more likely to lead
to, the truth than the Evangelical ... We should bear in mind
that that hard and unspiritual medieval crust which enveloped the
doctrine of the sacraments in stormy times, though in a measure
it may have made it unprofitable to many men at that time, yet in
God's providence preserved it inviolate and unscattered for
future generations.... We dare not forsake the sacraments or God
will forsake us."
THEIR PAPAL ATONEMENT DOCTRINE
WESTCOTT writes to his wife, Good Friday, 1865:
"This morning I went to hear the Hulsean Lecturer. He preached on
the Atonement ... All he said was very good, but then he did not
enter into the great difficulties of the notion of sacrifice and
vicarious punishment. To me it is always most satisfactory to
regard the Christian as in Christ - absolutely one with him, and
then he does what Christ has done: Christ's actions become his,
and Christ's life and death in some sense his life and death."
Westcott believed that the death of Christ was of His human
nature, not of His Divine nature, otherwise man could not do what
Christ did in death. Dr.Hort agrees it the following letter to
Westcott. Both rejected the atonement of the substitution of
Christ for the sinner, or vicarious atonement; both denied that
the death of Christ counted for anything as an atoning factor.
They emphasized atonement through the Incarnation. This is
the Catholic doctrine. It helps defend the Mass.
HORT writes to Westcott, October 15, 1860:
"To-day's post brought also your letter ... I entirely agree -
correcting one word - with what you there say on the Atonement,
having for many years believed that 'the absolute union of the
Christian (or rather, of man) with Christ Himself' is the
spiritual truth of which the popular doctrine of substitution is
an immoral and material counterfeit ... Certainly nothing could
be more unscriptural than the modern limiting of Christ's bearing
our sins and sufferings to his death; but indeed that is only one
aspect of an almost universal heresy."
THEIR COLLUSION PREVIOUS TO REVISION WESTCOTT writes to Hort, May
"Your note came with one from Ellicott this morning ... Though I
think that Convocation is not competent to initiate such a
measure, yet I feel that as 'we three' are together it would be
wrong not to 'make the best of it' as Lightfoot says ... There is
some hope that alternative readings might find a place in the
WESTCOTT writes to Lightfoot, June 4, 1870:
"Ought we not to have a conference before the first meeting for
Revision? There are many points on which it is Important that we
should be agreed."
WESTCOTT writes to Hort, July 1, 1870:
"The Revision on the whole surprised me by prospects of hope. I
suggested to Ellicott a plan of tabulating and circulating
emendations before our meetirg which may in the end prove
HORT writes to Lightfoot:
"It is, I think, difficult to measure the weight of acceptance
won beforehand for the Revision by the single fact of our
welcoming an Unitarian."
HORT writes to Williams:
"The errors and prejudices, which we agree in wishing to remove,
can surely be more wholesomely and also more effectually reached
by individual efforts of an indirect kind than by combined open
assault. At present very many orthodox but rational men are being
unawares acted on by influences which will assuredly bear good
fruit in due time, if the process is allowed to go on quietly;
and I cannot help fearing that a premature crisis would frighten
back many into the merest traditionalism."
Although these last words of Dr.Hort were written in 1858,
nevertheless they reveal the method carried out by Westcott and
himself as he said later, "I am rather in favor of indirect
dealing." We have now before us the sentiments and purposes of
the two men who entered the English New Testament Revision
Committee and dominated it during the ten years of its strange
work. We will now be obliged to take up the work of that
Committee, to behold its battles and its methods, as well as to
learn the crisis that was precipitated in the bosom of
To be continued