Life of Edward Bouverie Pusey
by Henry Parry Liddon, D.D.
London: Longmans, 1894
Transcribed by The Revd R D Hacking
RELATIONS WITH BISHOP WILBERFORCE--FIRST
UNIVERSITY SERMON AFTER SUSPENSION.
ALMOST coincident in point of time with Newman' s departure) was the appearance on the scene of Oxford life of the gifted prelate who was destined to have many and various relations with Pusey in the years that followed. Five days after Newman joined the Church of Rome, Samuel Wilberforce, then Dean of Westminster, received a letter from Sir Robert Peel, announcing that Bishop Bagot had accepted the see of Bath and Wells, then vacant by the death of Bishop Law, and offering him, with the Royal assent, the see of Oxford.
It was understood that Dr. Bagot was anxious to be relieved of a position, the difficulties of which would have taxed the resources of a man of much greater knowledge and resolution, although, generally speaking, they could hardly have been met by more courtesy and consideration than his. To Pusey in particular the withdrawal of Bishop Bagot was a most serious loss. Notwithstanding the deep disap–pointment caused by the Bishop' s Charge about Tract 90, Pusey had for many years sought and found at his hands sympathy and confidence, and such practical assistance as the Bishop could conscientiously give him. 'We may have a cleverer man,' said Pusey, 'but we are hardly likely to have a more fatherly Bishop.'
Dr. Wilberforce, although like his brothers, Robert and Henry, an Oriel man, had been less intimately connected than they with the Oxford Movement. He had been in all senses less influenced by Oxford; not being a Fellow of his College, he had gone down into the country after his ordination, and, although he had to a considerable extent diverged from the strict Evangelicalism of the Clapham School in which he had been brought up, he still retained much of its phraseology and sentiment: Mr. Keble had once truly predicted that such influences would cling to him to the end of his life. He was well versed in religious literature, if not so deep a theologian as his elder brother Robert; he was as versatile as his younger brother Henry; and he possessed practical ability in a far higher degree than either of them. This ability had been trained and developed by his work as a parish priest and as an energetic archdeacon; but even so great a gift had less to do with his power of influencing men than a very sympathetic nature, which sought for and inspired the warm regard of all who really knew him. The importance of such an appointment to the see of Oxford was generally recognized; it could not but affect Pusey very intimately.
Pusey and Bishop Wilberforce resembled each other in the fact that, among the elements of their character, affection predominated; but the circumstances of their lives were as different as possible. Although not without experience of men and affairs, Pusey had been a student all his life: and the world of books was to him a very real world, in which he felt thoroughly at home. Bishop Wilberforce, on the other hand, used to say, 'God has set me to deal not with books, but with men.' Each was probably at. times impatient of the other' s way of looking at life and conduct: though at times they met on the ground which was entirely common to both.
Wilberforce was only five years younger than Pusey; but at the University five years represents more than a whole generation. Pusey was academically distinguished when his future bishop became a member of Oriel College; and Wilberforce carried with him into the country the Oxford estimate of Pusey' s learning and capacity, and the recol–lection of his personal kindness. In 1836 the clergy of his rural deanery had resolved that the laws of 'prae–munire' as affecting the election and consecration of Bishops were 'unchristian' ; and that an agitation for their repeal ought to be set on foot. But before doing anything, Mr. Wilberforce wrote to ask Pusey for information.
REV. S. WILBERFORCE TO E. B. P.
Freemantle, Aug. 20, 1836.
Will you let me ask you your opinion of the laws, as at present existing, of the best mode of attacking them--of the practical points we should at once endeavour to achieve--e.g. whether we should go one step beyond petitioning for the repeal of the praemunire laws, or con–tent ourselves with that--whether such an attempt can be a movement for separating more effectually Church and State, which we as citizens should of course hold to be unlawful--where I can get the best informa–tion and arguments upon the matter so as to be thoroughly up to the subject when discussed at the Chancellor' s Visitation.
I shall feel particularly obliged to you for such and such speedy answers to my questions as you are able to send me. I trust that your trouble will not be entirely thrown away--as the praemunire enactments appear to me one of the salient points of all our evil limitation of the system of the Church, and one which must give way to lawful agitation.
Believe me to remain, my dear Pusey,
Most truly yours,
Five months later Mr. Wilberforce writes again to Pusey, and with an object which was characteristic of many of the efforts of his later life. He wished to make such changes in the Pastoral Aid Society as would induce Oxford High Churchmen to support it.
REV. S. WILBERFORCE TO E. B. P.
33 Grosvenor Square, Jan. 23, 1837.
MY DEAR PUSEY,
You will, I hope, excuse my troubling you with a few lines to ask you if you can let me know exactly what alteration of the Rules of the Pastoral Aid Society would give it such a character as would make you able to support it.
I suppose it to be (1) that they should give up all lay agency; (2) that they should divest themselves of the character of doctrinal judges of the Curates whose salaries they supply. . . . That is to say, that they may on the nomination of a Curate require to be satisfied by testimonials of his good character, but that this being done they do not pretend to exercise any superintendence over him but leave this to his Bishop.
Is there anything more? I do not ask this from mere curiosity, but because one influential member of the Society has just applied to me to know what alterations of the Rules would recommend it to the support of 'our Oxford friends,' with a view if possible of persuading the Society to adopt them.
As the question is to be adjusted to-morrow week, I should feel much obliged to you if you would let me hear from you on the subject as soon as you can.
Believe me to remain, my dear Pusey,
Most sincerely yours,
These relations, however, did not prevent an early and widening divergence between the future Bishop of Oxford and the leaders of the Oxford School. In 1838 Wilberforce was Select Preacher before the University; and, without naming Pusey, attacked the teaching of the latter on post-baptismal sin, as set out in his Tract on Baptism. In consequence of this, and of another sermon containing 'hits' at Newman, Newman declined in July, 1838, to receive further contribu–tions from Wilberforce to the British Critic; and it was impossible for Pusey at the time to conceal his vexation at the position which Wilberforce was taking up.
For a moment this growing divergence of feeling was arrested by the death of Mrs. S. Wilberforce, on March 10, 1841. Two years had not yet passed since Pusey himself became a widower: and his own sorrow, deep and abiding, enabled him to enter with warm sympathy into the grief of a younger man. In nothing did Pusey' s genuine character come out more clearly than in his letters to those in bereavement; they were the unaffected, unconventional outpouring of his own inner experiences, illuminated by the consolations of religion, and they never failed to draw towards him the hearts of those to whom they were addressed. Pusey' s letter is the only one which Wilberforce mentions in his diary, among the 'many' that he received on the day of the funeral. He wrote, on that very day, to express his warm gratitude.
ARCHDEACON WILBERFORCE TO E. B. P.
The Close, Winchester, March 17, 1841.
MY DEAR PUSEY,
Thank you very sincerely for your kindness in thinking of me and writing to me in this hour of my deep distress. I thank you also for the whole tone of your letter. It expresses exactly that at which, in great weakness and confusion, I am endeavouring to aim. It does seem to me that such a blow should usher in a wholly different sort of life; and I dread nothing so much as starting back into worldly or easier schemes.
I would most seriously entreat you to pray for me and for the five poor children who have lost they know not what.
I cannot write about it; but I feel your kindness in writing, and am ever,
My dear Pusey, most sincerely yours,
But in a time of so much public excitement, it was not un–natutal that the sympathies which Pusey' s letter had evoked were lost sight of a few months later amidst the rush of Oxford controversy. The struggle for the Poetry Professor–ship in the late autumn of 1841 seems to have precipitated Archdeacon Wilberforce into a more defined opposition to the Oxford School than he had consciously taken up to that time. In a remarkable letter to Sir George Prevost, he states his reasons for voting against Rev. Isaac Williams and for Mr. Garbett, the Low Church candidate; and, among these, he places first 'Pusey' s unhappy letter.' He
'felt daily obliged more and more, from love of the truth as I saw it, from love to our Church whose principles and very life I believe this teaching threatens, with formality and Romanism on the one hand, and a colder formality and Dissent (by its revulsion) on the other, to take on all occasions a position of more direct opposition to the School than I had of old thought necessary, being content before to feel that whilst I honoured their zeal, and was abashed by their holiness, and joined heartily in much Church truth they had brought forward, I was myself of another school of opinion and feeling.'
The years which followed illustrated this resolve. He came up to Oxford in October, 1844, to vote for Dr. Symons as Vice-Chancellor: and in the great struggle of the following February he had no doubt of the duty of punish–ing Ward; although he was deeply convinced of the 'in–expediency' of the attempt to condemn Tract 90. He disapproved of Pusey' s sermon on the Eucharist, not as 'putting forward the Transubstantiation view,' but as a 'sort of misty exaggeration of the whole truth which is very likely to breed in others direct errors,' and 'in tone un-Anglican.' He described 'Avrillon' s Mode of keeping Lent, with an Introduction by Pusey,' as being 'fuller of sad and humiliating bits of superstition than anything of his' he had yet seen. One of his letters, written immediately after the consecration of St. Saviour' s, gives in fullest confi–dence the estimate which he had formed of Pusey during those trying weeks which followed Newman' s secession, when he himself was Bishop-designate of Oxford.
DR. WILBERFORCE TO MISS NOEL.
Nov. 9, 1845.
I must say a word or two about Pusey. I quite believe him to be a very holy man. I could sit at his feet. But then I see that he is, if I understand God' s Word aright, most dark as to many parts of Christ' s blessed Gospel. He now, Henry says, acknow–ledges, that what I said of old in 1837, of his 'Sin after Baptism' view, was quite true. I see that he has greatly helped, and is helping, to make a party of semi-Romanizers in the Church, to lead some to Rome, to drive back from sound views those amongst us who love Christ, for another half century, and to make others grovel in low unworthy views of their Christian state, trembling always before an hard Master, thinking dirt willingly endured holiness, &c. Now there must be some cause why so good a man should fall into such fearful errors and do such deep mischief and that cause, I believe, is a great want of humility, veiling itself from his eyes under the appearance of entire abasement. I see it in all his writings and doings. His last letter about Newman I think deeply painful, utterly sophistical and false. He says, for instance, that he does not think himself as an English Churchman at liberty to hold all Roman doctrine; but he does 'not censure any Roman doctrine,' whilst he holds his Canonry at Ch. Ch., and his position among us, on condition of signing Articles, one-half of which are taken up in declaring different figments of Rome to be dangerous deceits and blasphemous fables. Then his language about the Church of England, patronizing, fault-finding, apologetic; his evident assumption of the position of head of the party since Newman' s secession; this very Leeds self-appointed Holy Week; his letter to his own Bishop--all seem to me full of egotistic assumption. I am called abruptly to dinner.
The last words of this passage will show that it was written hurriedly, and therefore must not be criticized too closely. The whole letter shows that, in spite of his appre–ciation of Pusey' s goodness, he was at this time strongly opposed to both the position Pusey occupied and his method of defending it. Such hostility partly arose no doubt from the prejudices previously alluded to, of his early training. But these were reinforced by more recent intimacies with the leaders of the Low Church and Latitudinarian parties. His intimates of that day, Bishop Sumner, Chevalier Bunsen, F. D. Maurice, and his relations with the Court, as a chaplain to Prince Albert, show that he was not likely heartily to sympathize with the Catholic truths which Pusey was reviving, or the type of Christian life he was helping to develop. Besides, it was a moment when very few even of those who were most intimate with Oxford understood Pusey' s position. There was a widespread expectation that he would follow Newman' s example in seceding: his utter–ances were interpreted in that, sense, and his professions to the contrary fell on deaf ears. Even Newman had for a moment misinterpreted his apparent hesitation. It is little surprising then if one whose sympathies had drifted so far away from the Oxford School, shews little apprecia–tion of the soundness of Pusey' s theological ground, and of the difficulties with which he had to contend. At any rate this letter, though with some inconsistency, expresses ~ definitely hostile judgment, which must be kept in view, a factor in the situation, during the ten years which followed on the events of 1845.
Pusey on his part was entirely unconscious that he was so severely misjudged; he seems to have thought of Bishop Wilberforce as of a younger friend, from whom he had been unhappily estranged by the course of recent controversies, but whose accession to the post of chief pastor in the diocese warranted him in furnishing such information and suggestions as would not be likely to be forthcoming from any other quarter.
Accordingly on Nov. 15, 1845,--the day on which he had himself joined with the rest of the Chapter of Christ Church in the election of the Bishop,--Pusey wrote to his future Diocesan. The purpose of his letter--as he himself has stated in later years--was to convey to the new Bishop information 'which might be useful to him and to the Church' --informa–tion not respecting the Oxford movement generally, but with reference to 'a definite class of minds.' He refers of course in this expression to the men who had not followed Newman, but were deeply perplexed by his secession, and who were for the time mainly reassured by Pusey' s own steadfastness. It seemed to Pusey vitally important that these should be retained in the Church if possible: at least it was beyond all things desirable that the new Bishop should understand their perplexities. Pusey' s letter was an offer of explana–tions which no one else could supply, and which he might reasonably assume would be welcomed by its recipient.
E. B. P. TO THE BISHOP-ELECT OF OXFORD.
MY DEAR LORD,
You will, I suppose, by the same post receive the official address, requesting you, I think, to undertake the office of Bishop of this diocese. It was a solemn and touching form which we went through in your election to-day, showing what our relation to a Bishop should be.
I could not write at first, being very much pressed for the sermons for Leeds, and you would have felt a letter of congratulation very mis–placed. A letter of sympathy is perhaps what you would have looked for from me. It does seem strange, and is, I think, a token of God' s mercy, that whereas some of the offices of a Bishop would seem fitted to your natural gifts, you should by God' s appointment have been called to a see which most of all requires supernatural. I hear privately from your brother Henry that you feel it so; and so I may the more venture to express my sympathy with you. One hopes the more that any one will be an instrument in the hands of God, when he feels him–self unequal to the office whereto he is called, and so depends the more wholly on Him Who by His providence has called him.
It is indeed a time of intense anxiety; we have scarcely seen the beginning of the troubles with which we are threatened. I fear that the unsettlement is exceeding great, and that there are lurking seeds of doubt very often where nothing comes to the surface. A little while ago people seemed inclined to give up everything out of mere dejectedness. Of course such a loss as we have just had must be intensely painful and perplexing to thousands who owe all their religious being to his preaching, or published sermons. Then each unhinges another, and so it spreads until one sees not where it is to end. As far as I can see, what is chiefly at work is, not attraction towards Rome, but despondency about ourselves.
I can well suppose that you, in common with many others, will have been surprised, and perhaps pained, at the line which I have myself taken. I felt, as I have heretofore, that I must risk everything if I was to do anything. I did feel that there was a strong definite position to take in positive attachment to our own Church, and awe at His presence Who has guarded her by His providence, and blessed her with His grace, apart from every other question. Love is the real element that binds; not antagonism. I have been led to this by the experience of perplexed minds for many years; I found that contro–versy irritated and had no good effect whatever upon them; some–times an hour' s controversy with others undid all I had been doing by the irritation which it caused; on the other hand, I found that the sense of God' s gifts in our Church made them calm and happy.
I did not intend to write so much about myself. It is, I fear, mis–placed when you have so many solemn thoughts about yourself and your approaching consecration. Yet you will have distractions, else I would not have broken in upon you; and I hope that anything which brings before you more vividly our perils may, so far from distracting you, rather promote that frame of mind which you would now most wish to cherish--mistrust of self and full trust in God.
I know not whether my own sense of our perils has not been deepened by knowing of the sort of persons, lay or clerical, who have been comforted by my Letters. Still I have all hope, both in God' s good providence which has been over our Church hitherto, and in the actual tokens around us, especially our young persons, and in the deepened frame of mind and reverence so widely visible. But I am sure that, in this diocese, it will need all the wisdom which any can obtain to rule aright the Church of God.
Yet God' s providence has been so wonderfully shown in the character of the Bishop whom He has given us these last sixteen years, and now again in our not having one such as some with whom we have been threatened, that I trust that your coming here is an act of the same graciousness, and the more, from the little which your brother H[enry] has told me.
For myself, I can too readily think that any apparent connexion with myself would rather embarrass you with many; else it would have given me much pleasure if, in the retired way in which I live, my house could be of any service to you at any time that your duties should call you into Oxford.
I wish my prayers were more such as I might hope would be heard for you.
Wishing you all blessing, I would remain,
Yours most faithfully,
E. B. PUSEY.
Christ Church, Nov. 15, .
P.5.--I have written this as to a future Bishop, I know not whether in ignorance; to an actual Bishop its style must have been different.
More than a week elapsed before the Bishop-elect replied.
THE BISHOP-ELECT OF OXFORD TO E. B. P.
PRIVATEAlverstoke Rectory, Nov. 24, 1845.
MY DEAR DR. PUSEY,
Your letter has remained unanswered until now from the diffi–culty I felt in replying to it. I cannot reply to it without a cordial acknowledgment Of the kindness of its tone towards myself and an earnest return of its desire for our beloved Church, of a hearty, faithful, truthful peacefulness of inward spirit. At the same time, I cannot say this without adding what I feared might pain you (this is what kept me silent), and that perhaps the more because anything I say must be incomplete and abrupt, since it would be plainly im–possible if it was not, as it is, unfit that we should enter into a corre–spondence upon the subject.
I could not then but say how very deeply (to go no further back) the Letters to which you allude had pained me, and that I cannot feel that the language therein held as to the errors of the Church of Rome is to my apprehension to be reconciled with the doctrinal formularies of our own reformed Church. In saying this I speak I know as you would have me, with entire frankness, and so I would leave the subject.
In one point at least we can agree entirely--in our sense of the greatness of the common danger, and of the extremity of my own;-- and for the prayers and intercessions you promise me I thank you from the bottom of my soul.
I am ever, my dear Dr. Pusey, most sincerely yours,
S. OXON (Elect).
P.S. I had written 'Private' ; but I erase it, as upon consideration I should prefer having my opinion on the subjects touched on in this letter as widely known as possible. My address will be the Deanery, Westminster. S.O.
It was a disagreeable surprise for one in Pusey' s anxious position, entertaining as he had done such hopeful expecta–tions, to receive thus early a plain intimation that the attitude of his future Bishop was so different from all that he had anticipated, as well as from that of the previous occupant of the See. Dr. Bagot had never questioned either Pusey' s theological judgment or his unswerving faithfulness to the Church of England. Pusey lost no time in replying, with the unguarded candour of conscious loyalty. So far from retreating from the attitude taken up in the Letters to which the Bishop objected, he insisted on, if he did not extend it.
E. B. P. TO THE BISHOP-ELECT OF OXFORD.
Nov. 27, 1845.
MY DEAR LORD,
Your mentioning your address seems to imply that you thought I might wish to write again to you, and so I take occasion to explain myself further upon one point. I did not mean in my last Letter [to the English Churchman] to say anything definite as to my own belief, except simply that I received all which the Ancient Church received, and that in so doing I believed that I was following the guidance of my own and of God by her. I did not mean to state anything definitely as to myself, but only to maintain, in the abstract, the tena–bility of a certain position, in which very many are, of not holding themselves obliged to renounce any doctrine formally decreed by the Roman Church. And this I knew would satisfy many minds, who do not wish to form any definite opinions on those doctrines, yet still wish not to be obliged to commit themselves against them.
But in this I was not speaking of what is commonly meant by 'Popery,' which is a large practical system, going beyond their formularies, varying perhaps indefinitely in different minds. I meant simply 'the letter of what has been decreed by the Roman Church' ; and this I have for years hoped might ultimately become the basis of union between us.
And now I hope you will not object to hear how this does seem to rue consistent with subscription to our formularies, although it is no other than I said in my defence of Tract 90.
The ground on which I rest is that since our Church, both by the declarations of the Reformers, by her Canons, and by the combined teaching of approved divines, refers to Antiquity, the early Church, the quod ubique, &c.--then in receiving what is so taught, I am following the teaching of my Church. If then anything in our formularies seems, according to any received interpretation, to be at variance with that teaching, I think myself compelled, on her own principles, to inquire whether these formularies necessarily require that interpreta–tion. If, of two interpretations, one goes against Antiquity, while the other falls in with it, I think that I am acting on the principles of our Church in adopting that which falls in with it, and interpreting her in harmony with Antiquity to which she appeals.
It is in this way that I have received everything which I have received. Whatever I have received, I received on the authority of the Ancient Church. I may say, too, I received some things against my will. My bias was to keep the position which those in our Church had usually held. I have mentioned the change in myself to very few; because what I had at heart was simply the revival of holiness and true faith among ourselves, and I trusted that God in His mercy giving us this 'would provide' for the rest. Practically, when people come to me for guidance, I endeavour to withhold them from what lies beyond our Church, although, if asked on the other side, I could not deny that such and such things seem to me admissible.
If I may explain my meaning, the remarkable Acts of SS. Perpetua and Felicitas, which were beyond question genuine, contains a very solemn vision, which involves the doctrine of process of purification after death by suffering, to shorten which prayer was available. I came upon it while reading the Acts for another purpose: it was great pain to me. The ground was taken from under me. I had interpreted passages (as of St. Basil), as I saw wrongly, under a bias the other way; solemn as it was I could not, taking all together, refuse my belief to an intermediate state of cleansing, in some cases through pain. The history was a revelation, at a very solemn time, to a martyr; falling in with much which might be the meaning of Holy Scripture and very much in the Fathers, and stamping it upon my mind. I could not escape it. The effect has been that I have since been wholly silent about Purgatory (before I used to speak against it). I have not said so much as this except to two or three friends. Some of my nearest friends do not know it.
In like manner, I found that some Invocation of Saints was much more frequent in the early Church than I had been taught to think, that it has very high authority, and is nowhere blamed. This is wholly distinct from the whole system as to St. Mary, as what I before said is from the popular system as to purgatory. In this way, then, and partly from the internal structure of the Article [xxii], I came to think that our Article did not condemn all 'doctrine of Purgatory' or Invo–cation of Saints, but only a certain practical system; and then I came afterwards to see that the actual Roman formularies did not assert more on these subjects (as apart from the popular system or 'Popery' ) than was in the Ancient Church.
Practically then I dissuade or forbid (when I have authority) Invo–cation of Saints; abstractedly, I see no reason why our Church might not eventually allow it, in the sense of asking for their prayers.
I fear that by all this I shall distress you more than before: and yet it is well that you should know the state of our minds, and how we came to it. I have unshaken faith in our position; I believe that God' s hand is with our Church and that all will come right. But
I cannot give up my implicit faith in the Ancient Church, nor limit my subscription to it. If our formularies were set authoritatively (i.e. by any interpretation of the English Church) at variance with the Ancient (which God forbid!), I should have to give up our formularies. I have full confidence that it will not be so.
I hardly know what my relation to yourself will be; we seem in such an un-episcopal state; electing you, it seems, in a very affecting and solemn way, as our own Bishop, and then, in no relation with the Bishop, when elected, except privately, or in concurrence with the Ordinations. I may therefore the rather speak what I know, that any declaration which should require people, by virtue of their subscrip–tion, to declare, upon the various subjects mentioned in our Articles, against the letter of the Roman decrees, would cause the loss of the labours of many valuable and devoted men. And I suppose it is not a wide step, now, between a person' s being obliged to resign ministerial duty, and thinking that he has no more place in the Church of England.
I cannot but think (as I said) that it has been by God' s providence, that in the Council of Trent the Bishops there assembled were with–held in so marked a manner from any condemnation of ourselves, and that our Articles, being drawn up before the Council, were not levelled against it. I cannot but think that Rome and we are not irreconcilably at variance, but that, in the great impending contest with unbelief, we shall be on the same side, and in God' s time, and in His way, one.
However, I do not speculate on the future. The present is a time of intense anxiety though of hope. I am myself satisfied about my subscription; in fact, it is no other than that of Keble and others perhaps nearer to yourself. I would willingly give up office, if I thought that my mode of subscription was not allowed; but I have thought it better to satisfy my own conscience privately, than add to the confusion by speaking publicly on any controversial subject. I did not mean to say so much to you; but as you spoke of your impression of the untenability of my mode of subscription, I thought I had best, even at the risk of making you place still less confidence in me, explain to you the state of other minds, over whom you will be placed in the Lord, by my own.
Forgive me any pain I give you, and believe me, yours very faith–fully and humbly,
E. B. PUSEY.
It must be admitted that, if the object was to conciliate Bishop Wilberforce, Pusey had not taken the best course to secure it. He had reasserted, in its main features, the line which he had taken in defence of Tract 90, but with–out any such account or kind of explanation as would have recommended it to his correspondent. On the contrary he had expressed himself in such terms as were not un–reasonably calculated to increase the anxiety.
The Bishop, as was well known afterwards. was far from accepting the principle which was plain enough to Pusey, that Scripture itself could not be defended if the, authority of Christian Antiquity was set aside. Apparently, also, he did not realize the great importance of Pusey' s distinction between the letter of the Roman formularies and the prac–tical Roman system; nor could he fall in with the principle that if the current interpretation of one of our own formu–laries contradicted Antiquity, another equally admissible interpretation, which was in harmony with Antiquity, must be preferred. Pusey' s argument, so far from recommending itself to him, only convinced him that the estimate of Pusey which he had expressed to Miss Noel was sub–stantially accurate. So, five days after his consecration, he replied to Pusey in terms which showed not only that, for some time to come at any rate, the old relations between the Oxford School and the Bishop of Oxford would be impossible, but also that Pusey should not be surprised if the Bishop (however little he understood the theological questions that were involved) openly pronounced judgment against him.
THE BISHOP OF OXFORD TO E. B. P.
The Deanery, December 5, 1845.
MY DEAR DR. PUSEY,
My mind has been lately so entirely occupied in ways you will easily conceive, that I have been led to postpone for a few days replying to your last letter. There is, as you anticipated, much in it which is distressing to me. But before I very lightly touch on one or two of those points, I wish to say a word on the nature of the communication itself.
It seems to me to appertain strictly to the office to which God has called me, that I should seek to bear as a Father in Christ (however unworthy) the burden, not of these only, but of all the difficulties, infirmities, or temptations which may harass the minds of any who are entrusted (in whatever measure) to my charge and who wish to com–municate with me. Such therefore I would always be ready to listen to, and if possible to aid, not by controversy, but by a true sympathy and by any practical counsels which God may enable me to offer. Only this must be borne in mind, that such communications stand wholly apart from any judgment or step which I may be compelled to pronounce or take by any public act, in which these same persons may embody the difficulties or errors which they have communicated to me, and from which I have sought by private counsel to withdraw them.
Having said so much, I would add that I am as far as possible from being unable to enter into the difficulties of which you speak. But I must also say that I trace our present difficulties to a different source, and look for our escape from them, if it please God, from a different quarter from those to which you point. I do not doubt that a longing after greater devotion, after a higher and more self-denying character, and after a greater life of Christian charity, than they met with around them, was the spring which originally moved many of those who have been foremost in the recent Movement. But I believe that instead of seeking for these, where only they could be found, in a fuller and more personal knowledge of God and the eternal relations of the ever-blessed Trinity as revealed in God' s Word, they were drawn aside by forms and trappings which seemed to promise them that which they sought in a system which must really obscure the truth to all, and especially to those by whom it was self-chosen. Thus they were led from God instead of to Him. With the appear–ance to themselves of peculiar self-abasement they lost their humility; with great outward asceticism they were ruled by an unmortified will; they formed a party; and thus being greatly predisposed to it, the perverted bias of one master-mind has sufficed to draw them close to or absolutely into the Roman Schism, with all its fearful doctrinal errors.
The Bishop might have stopped at this point; since Pusey would have understood himself to be at any rate partly referred to in the sentence of his correspondent. But he proceeds:--
I should not speak as I have said that I would, if I did not add that there appear to me to be in yourself too many traces of this evil; of a subtle and therefore most dangerous form of self-will; and a tendency to view yourself as one in, if not now the leader of, a party. This seems to me to lead you to judge the Church which you ought to obey; sometimes to blame, sometimes almost to patronize her; and hence to fall into the further error of undervaluing the One inspired Revelation of God' s will given to us in His perfect Word. I would suggest to you as instances, your abandoning what you had learned as a matter of Faith from your Church' s exposition of God' s Word on the evidence of an alleged vision, whereas the truth of no one of the Articles of the Faith rests on such evidence, an evidence manifestly open (as the mere facts of animal magnetism may show) to every form of uninten–tional deceit. Again, the same spirit seems to me to be involved in your being ready to give up any one of our Formularies (which refer for their authority straight to God' s Word and the Apostolical Creeds), if you, as an individual, think that you can find in early Christian writers contradictions of them.
Will you let me then pray you to weigh carefully the mere possibility of my views being right; and see as in God' s sight whether you may not unawares have been led to foster the spirit of party, to shake the obedient reverence due to our Church, to lose sight in some measure of the supreme authority of Holy Scripture, and so to hold great truths partially, and therefore untruly. Should you admit even the possibility of this being true, you will agree with me that not to take any new step, but to watch most earnestly against self-dependence and the spirit or acts of party, is at this moment your especial duty.
I have answered your appeal plainly: I believe that you would have me do so. Only let me further say how earnestly I pray that the God of Peace may Himself heal these our open wounds, and bring together into the clear light of His truth hearts which to His eye may be nearer than they seem to be to us. Should He make me His humble instru–ment in working such an end, my highest aim will be richly accomplished.
I am ever, my dear Dr. Pusey, your faithful friend and brother,
Anything more unhappy than such a correspondence as this cannot well be imagined. At that moment it was most desirable that all who were really loyal to the cause of the Church of England should understand each other, and, if need were, exercise a generous tolerance in order the better to do so. It would have been indeed a gain if the two men, who by their position, gifts, and character were bound to sway the minds of a great number of Churchmen, could have been in sympathy with one another. But it was one of the greatest of the many serious misfortunes under which the Church of England then laboured, that at the very outset of Bishop Wilber–force' s episcopate such unhappy relations should have been established between him and Pusey.
It is impossible to attempt to allot the share of the blame for such grave misunderstandings. It is evident enough that Pusey, in his somewhat hasty but single-minded anxiety to explain the whole position to his new Bishop, did un–wittingly contribute to this unhappy state of things. It must be allowed that, considering the many secessions that were occurring, there was sufficient in Pusey' s letter to excite sus–picion in the mind of one who had no closer sympathies with the Tractarian movement than had Dr. Wilberforce at that moment. On the other hand, Dr. Wilberforce had no doubt much more to learn than he supposed about the theological position of the Church of England, about the Oxford School, and about Pusey himself. And it was no good omen for the immediate future, that the new prelate, five days after his consecration, and before he had reached his diocese, should thus admonish one who was probably the most learned, and amongst the most saintly of his clergy, on a 'dangerous form of self-will,' and his 'tendency to party spirit,' and should exhort him as a special duty to watch most earnestly against 'self-dependence.' Only after the lapse of years, and after still graver misunderstandings between the two men, did the clouds so far clear away as to enable the Bishop not only to appreciate the drift of Pusey' s efforts and his sincere loyalty to the English Church, but to invite his hearty co-operation in schemes for the welfare of the Church.
For the present, however, Pusey' s public actions were no more calculated to improve his relations with his new Bishop than were his private letters. The two years of suspension from the duty of preaching in the University pulpit had expired in June, 1845; and Pusey had been for some time anxiously considering what would be the most useful subject for the sermon which he would soon have to preach. It was suggested to him that he should preach the condemned sermon over again, in order to compel the Heads of Houses to give him a real hearing. This project had been resisted by Marriott.
'If,' he wrote to Pusey on Oct. 19, 1844, 'by preaching the same you call on the six doctors for another decision and a hearing, not forcing them for the sake of consistency into a position to our poor Church? and is it not, at present at all events, doubtful whether they can be considered to have condemned any doctrine at all? Is it not but an attempt to wound us all through you, by seizing any opening for doing so? Do not their supporters generally through the country allow that there is no wrong doctrine in the sermon, but [say] that it was injudicious, and that something must be done against us? I know of no one who condemns the doctrine. My notion is what Judge Coleridge says, that you cannot be placed in a better position than you now hold, but may be in a much worse. It [the sermon] has opened [a way for] the true doctrine more deeply and extensively than anything else could have done, into people' s hearts, where it has carried it with sympathy for yourself.'
Newman had not then left the English Church, but he had lost all heart and hope in her. Pusey therefore turned to Keble for advice.
E. B. P. TO REV. J. KEBLE.
Vigil of SS. Simon and Jude, 1844.
It seemed to me that should I live to have another preaching-turn, I might preach the same doctrine over again, as gradually as I could, preaching the whole doctrine. This Newman seemed to think at once the best plan, and caught at it: 'It seems to me the best thing you have said.' But what is to be done, if I am again con–demned? And yet it would be very uncomfortable to preach before the University, with this sort of stigma upon me, as though there were a subject upon which I had been judged unsound. I hardly see how I could go on with my course, as though nothing had happened. I had thought of taking for my text, 'The words that I speak unto you, &c.,' removing the heretical interpretation of the text, and inculca–ting the actual inhabitation of the Holy Spirit, as connected with the Holy Communion, which again brings us round to the high doctrine, and re-affirming the two doctrines at which people rebel, the Real Presence by virtue of the consecration, and the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Tell me, at your leisure, pray, what you think.
Ever yours gratefully and affectionately,
E. B. P.
Keble' s reply was, like himself, cautious and decided:--
REV. J. KEBLE TO E. B. P.
Hursley, Nov. 19, 1844.
On turning over in my mind every way the case you put to me, what you should do when the two years are over, I cannot see that anything would be better than to go on in what might be called a natural way, i. e. to take up the subject where you left it off, re–capitulate it as' 'you naturally would do at such a distance of time, and in so doing of course re-assert the two great doctrines of the Sacrifice and Real Presence. This will give them an opportunity, if they think proper, of removing their censure, yet without undue controversy or challenge on your part. And if they do not take it up, it will be equivalent to allowing the substance of what they before tried to silence.
Ever, my very dear friend,
Your very affectionate
As Newman' s secession was soon expected, it was suggested to Pusey that it would be of real help if he resumed his place as a preacher before that event took place; it was hoped that his sermon might 'cheer' some waverers. But Isaac Williams and Copeland, as well as Keble, were against any attempt to preach before it came in the ordinary course; Pusey therefore decided to wait. Soon however after his return from the consecration of St. Saviour' s, Leeds, he began to 'read' for a University sermon, which he was to preach in his own turn on February 1, 1846. Pusey, as has been already stated, prepared for a University sermon as seriously as for writing a book: it was generally three, or at least two months on the stocks; and, when delivered, it represented only a fragment of the wide investigations which had preceded it, and some of which survived in elaborate notes or an ample appendix.
The subject which Pusey chose was 'The Power of the Keys,' or, as it was described,--with a view to being intro–duced into the course which Pusey was working out in the University pulpit,-- 'The Entire Absolution of the Penitent.' His family were filled with anxiety at the prospect of a new sermon, and possibly of another suspension; and their apprehensions were shared, though for different reasons, by others.
ARCHDEACON MANNING TO E. B. P.
MY DEAR FRIEND, Lavington, Jan. 10, 1846.
Will you bear with me, and if what I say is superfluous, forgive me? I think you are sure to have a preaching-turn before the University: and from something you said to me once at Brighton I am led to think you have been inclined to take some subject under the view of bearing witness to the Truth. The more I have thought of it, and the more (without discussion on my part) I have gathered the Opinions and feelings of others, the more I earnestly hope and beg of you to treat of some subject in which those that watch for you may be disappointed. My reasons are more than I can hope now to give. It seems to me that Truth itself will be more jeopardized in many minds by a renewal of contests: that any new questions will seem like a personal retort on your part, wholly out of keeping with your past silence, which has been invaluable to you as an example: that it will savour of 'striving and lifting up,' which both for your sake and for those who oppose you seems to me a course which our Great Example would not warrant. Hardly anything could be so hurtful to us as that you should be again the centre of a public contest: or that people should seem to see you always associated with University conflicts. It appears to me that your work is with and for the Church eminently, and that to allow the University to intercept you by its narrow jurisdiction is most unhappy, and tending unspeakably to increase the doubt, irritation, unsettlement, and aliena–tion of heart which is too prevalent already·May you be guided with a sure and true light from our only Guide.
Believe me, my dear friend,
Yours very affectionately,
H. E. M.
The subject of the sermon had, however, been already settled. Pusey took the opportunity of pointing out to Manning how largely his earlier steps had been influenced by a desire to show such sympathy with Newman' s state of mind as might help to retain him in the English Church, and that there were others for whom he now desired to do the same.
E. B. P. TO ARCHDEACON MANNING.
[Brighton, Jan. 11, 1846.]
MY DEAR FRIEND,
The subject of my sermon is fixed for me: 'The Power of the Keys.' (1) It seemed most natural to go on with my course 'On the Comfort to Penitents' just as I should have done: (2) it has 'got out' that I am going to preach upon it, so that to give it up would be to imply some weakness somewhere. And then happily all our formularies are so decisively favourable, that there is no con–ceivable point if attack.
When dear N[ewman] was as yet undetermined, I did what I could with reference to him: sometimes to take off invidiousness from him, as in the defence of Tract 90; then in all I did about vindicating myself; and my plan for this sermon was in hopes of taking off the edge of what he felt so keenly. The present form was suggested by K[eble] as the most natural. The execution is of course mine.
I should like to send you the whole if I have time. Will you tell me what you think of the enclosed? I do not like to gloss over the subject altogether, although I feel, as you do, the importance of avoiding attack. But I really do hope that at Oxford also they are im–pressed with the great seriousness of the present crisis, and desirous to commit things to God' s hands, rather than take them into their awn.
Thank you most truly for your prayer and for all your love for one unworthy. God requite it to you.
In Him your very affectionate
E. B. P.
Archdeacon Manning was only anxious that Pusey' s statement should be full and systematic, defining what was intended to be included and to be excluded.
ARCHDEACON MANNING TO E. B. P.
Reigate, Jan. 13, 1846.
The point on which I should think a clear statement most needed is that which practically differences the Church of England from the Church of Rome--namely, the necessity of Confession to the forgive–ness of penitents. It seems to me plain beyond doubt from such passages as Bingham brings to the point, that in the early centuries such a necessity was not supposed to exist; and that confession was not a necessary condition to Communion. This, I think, will be the point in which it will be necessary to be clear.
I am ashamed of writing in this way to you..
Believe me, my dear friend,
Yours very affectionately,
H. E. MANNING.
Another person was roused by the purport of Pusey' s sermon. Mr. Golightly felt bound by his conception of his duty to come forward at such a crisis. He addressed a public letter to the Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Symons, draw–ing attention to Pusey' s Letters to the English Churchman in October, 1845, and desiring that, before Pusey was allowed to preach, the Vice-Chancellor would require him to sign Article XXII. He then proceeds to discuss other passages in Pusey' s works, his adaptation of Roman Catholic books to the use of the English Church, his defence of Oakeley, and the recent secessions to Rome, and to urge that 'Dr. Pusey may reasonably be called upon to consider very seriously whether he is again able to attach his bona fide and ex animo subscription to the formularies of our Church.'
Replying to a letter of Mr. J. B. Mozley' s, who wished him now to define his position as distinct from that of Oakeley, Pusey notices Golightly' s letter to the Vice-Chancellor, and the course which he might deem it his duty to take with respect to it.
E. B. P. TO REV. J. B. MOZLEY.
Brighton, 131 Marine Parade, Jan. 10, 1846.
Many thanks for your kind anxiety about me. No hint has come to me in consequence of Golightly' s letter. I hope anyhow to take warn–ing by the private negotiations of two and a half years ago.
If asked to sign the Articles, I think I must say something as to the mode in which I sign them: as, 'I sign them in the sense which I have so often explained, and which, although it differs Mr. V.-C. from yours, I believe to be the grammatical sense' ; or the like, 'I sign the Articles in their grammatical sense apart from any inter–pretation put upon them.' But on this I must consult. I must not seem to take a test in a sense in which I do not take it. Everything depends on the appearance of honesty; ab omni non solum facto, verum opprobrio quoque turpi, while I am desirous not to give any handle against myself or others.
E. B. P.
Mozley replied at once:--
REV. J. B. MOZLEY TO E. B. P.
Oxford, Jan. 12, 1846.
Thank you for your kind note. I see Golightly in his letter ex–pressly fixes upon you what you carefully avoided in your Letters in the English Churchman; viz, identifying yourself with Oakeley' s ground. He makes you identify yourself. Perhaps this is an indica–tion of the line they will take. The Provost will be sharp enough to see that you have not committed yourself, but I should not be surprised at some push being made to get the vacuum filled up in some way or other, and make out a regular case of identity.
Now, with respect to Oakeley' s ground, I suppose one has not much more to do with it, now that Oakeley and those who put it forward have gone. I mean that there are no open supporters of it that one has to defend and sympathize with ab extra. So one seems to be injuring no one now by saying openly--I do not go on Oakeley' s ground myself. This would set matters straight with many persons who [are] so very suspicious of us now. Not that it is necessary to go out of our way to say it; but if it comes in one' s way one would be ready to do so. I am going now on the supposition that Oakeley' s ground is in itself untenable, which I suppose one must say it is, however one would have allowed him to hold it while he was in our Church.
I mean that with respect to subscription to the Articles one' s public line is cleared, however one may regret the cause [of] it, by Oakeley' s secession. It seems hardly possible to have anything more to do with his ground now, and one may relieve oneself of thinking anything more about it. And if we are pushed in that direction our answer is ready. I am speaking of course of our public line generally and not of any explanations to the V. C. or Hebdomadal Board.
In the act of subscribing, however, I suppose we have nothing to do with explanation one way or another. I say this with reference to what you throw out in your note. You will act of course on much better advice than mine in the matter, but it seems to me we should lose ground considerably by appending any kind of explanation to our act of subscription. Though it simply amounted to a truism (the sense which I believe, &c.) it would be taken for a dishonest reserva–tion, and a concession on our part that we had not the same right to sign the Articles aplos that others have. At least I should much fear so.
The Vice-Chancellor delayed his reply to Golightly until January 14. He expressed disapproval of Golightly' s pub–lishing his letter to himself while it was still under his consideration; and he had some doubt of the correctness of Golightly' s reasoning in some instances. But, for the rest, he and his correspondent were of one mind. Golightly need not apologize for raising the question of requiring Dr. Pusey to subscribe the Articles: but the Vice-Chan–cellor had doubts whether anything would be gained by insisting on Dr. Pusey' s subscription. He had observed that in the Letter to which Mr. Golightly made particular reference, Dr. Pusey not only plainly intimated his readi–ness to subscribe the Articles, but gave a studied exposition of the grounds on which subscription might be made. As these grounds were certainly very different from any that would have appeared satisfactory to the Vice-Chan–cellor, and his correspondent, it seemed reasonable to con–clude that the application of the Statute would in the present case be ineffectual, and being so would be worse than useless. At the same time, the Vice-Chancellor pointed out to his correspondent that 'if, unhappily, erroneous doctrine should at any time be delivered from the pulpit of the University, the Statutes provide a remedy and one which cannot be rendered inoperative by an un–satisfactory subscription to the Articles.'
The Vice-Chancellor sent Pusey a copy of his reply to Mr. Golightly, and he accompanied it with the subjoined note
THE VICE-CHANCELLOR TO E. B P.
Wadham College, Jan. 14, 1846.
MY DEAR DR. PUSEY,
Having this day given my answer to an application made to me by Mr. Golightly (with the particulars of which I have been aware that you were made acquainted) I have thought it respectful towards yourself, and right, to send to you a copy of it. The publication of Mr. Golightly' s letter has called for a more explicit answer than might have been otherwise needful. For, by declining to interfere, it became requisite for me to state plainly and without reserve the considerations which weighed with me. The application indeed made it appear to me a duty to do what I had deliberately foreborne to do before, viz, to look much into your recent publications. The reason of my previous forbearance was, that I apprehended from the little which I did read, that I might be driven to a conviction with which I was most unwilling to be impressed. I should be now wanting in what I owe to yourself if I did not say that the further reading has occasioned me the deepest pain. Much has appeared to me so plainly and directly at variance with several Articles of the Church and with the actual engagements of any one who had pledged himself to the office of a teacher in it, that I cannot without great concern dwell even in thought upon it. My long and habitual personal regard will not allow the entrance into my mind of a suspicion unfavourable to yourself; I cannot however but fear that your authority may tempt others to a conduct which would in their cases involve the sacrifice of moral integrity as well as of Christian simplicity. The grace especi–ally needed is spiritual discernment to discriminate the path of duty.
I am, my dear Dr. Pusey,
Very sincerely and faithfully yours,
B. P. SYMONS.
Many a man would have lost heart altogether when Bishops and Vice-Chancellors only communicated with him to tell him that he was wanting in some part of ele–mentary morality. But Pusey, conscious of his motives, was prepared to meet a storm of public and private dis–approval. The sermon was finished on January 20: and although Keble had already suggested the subject, New–man' s secession and other matters had greatly modified the situation, and Pusey wished to know whether, after reading the sermon, Keble still advised him to preach it.
E. B. P. TO REV. J. KEBLE.
131 Marine Parade, Brighton, Jan. 20, 1846.
I have been longing to write to you, but waiting until some pressing things were done. I have been wishing; too, to send you my sermon, which is all but finished, begging you to object to anything you think inexpedient, undesirable. I have wished too, at least in matters which relate to the Church, to be out of my own hands, and under guidance, and that you would tell me what to do. While dear N[ewman] was with us, I meant to take his counsel, although I some–times mistook it; and it seems now as if the mistakes made were when I had an opinion of my own, e. g. about dear Isaac standing for the Poetry Professorship. Again, I committed myself to Bunsen about the Jerusalem Bishopric, not understanding it, I believe.
I fear now it is too late to ask about the subject of this sermon, although Manning would have wished it otherwise: Richards dreads it. Yet if I were bid, and a subject given me, I could even yet write upon it, although time presses. My grounds for taking it were: (1) that it was the natural subject; that which came next in my series, 'the Power of the Keys.' (2) It seemed, for any doctrinal subject, the most unassailable; for all our formularies are in our favour; there is nothing against it; nothing, I thought, upon which a question could be raised. (3) It is taking away on one side the harsh appearance of the doctrine of repentance, without the remedial system; and now for not quitting it, there comes (4) that people have come to know pretty extensively that I am going to preach upon it (the Heads talked of it last term), so that it might seem as if I were afraid the ground were untenable, and so friends might be dispirited: those who think ill of me might urge it as a proof the more of want of straightforwardness and mistrust in our own cause.
I have shown the statement about the Holy Eucharist in the recapitulation to Manning and Marriott, and they do not think it assailable; but this is a detail on which I should like anyhow to have your judgment. I am now writing on the general subject, (1) whether you would think it anyhow advisable not to preach on the Power of the Keys; (2) if you do, to give me a subject to preach on. I do not see how a word of what I have written can be touched; but it seems obstinate to go on in my own way without asking you as to the general question.
I am obliged to break off in haste to save the post. How is Mrs. Keble? Troubles are very thick on us.
Ever your affectionate and grateful
E. B. P.
Keble' s decision was characteristic. Pusey should preach, as he intended, on 'the Absolution of the Penitent.' But he should, if he could, prepare another sermon, to be used if at the moment, for whatever reason, it should seem in–advisable to carry out the original design. The sermon was printed before delivery: the slips were sent to Keble 'to except against every word which you doubt of.' After this second perusal, Keble repeated his previous opinion.
REV. J. KEBLE TO E. B. P.
January 28, 1846.
Some think that if you had by you one of your plain practical sermons, in the same tone e. g. with the last which you preached at Brighton and published, it would be a golden opportunity of doing good to some of the scores who will be present out of curiosity or a worse motive, to substitute that sermon for the present one; that no one would dream of there being anything like recanta–tion in so doing, or if there were a chance of their doing so, that you might easily obviate it by an introductory sentence or two; and that, in this way, some men might be surprised or shamed into good feeling, who would simply set up their backs against the sermon at present; and so it would come by-and-by with a better chance. I tell you this, not knowing how far it is right, but feeling that it quite depends on the question whether you have such a sermon by you or no, for I am sure it is quite too late to write one. If you have, it seems to me that you cannot be wrong in either taking that or this as your own judgment and feelings may incline; only I would show it to Marriott or some such person, who may be able to help you in detecting everything which the critics might lay hold of. If you have no such sermon by you, it seems a plain and an intended course that you should go on with this. I shall be very sorry if I give you trouble or perplexity by this.
This was followed up by a long letter containing pro–posals for twenty-six alterations in the printed text of the sermon. These were mostly verbal; and with scarcely an exception they were adopted by the preacher. He also received comments on the sermon from Archdeacon Manning and Isaac Williams, which were carefully weighed.
At last the 1st of February arrived. The scene in the Cathedral was a far more remarkable one than that which had been witnessed on the occasion of the con–demned sermon in 1843. Pusey' s own position was, and was felt to be, in many respects different. In 1843 Newman was still at his side; he had not yet resigned St. Mary' s. Now, in Oxford at least, Pusey stood almost alone: Marriott and Copeland, with their many and varied excellences, could not occupy the vacant place. In 1843 the charge of Romanizing was in the air, but as yet nothing had occurred to give it point and emphasis. Now, as the Puritan controversialists were never weary of telling the world, not a few of the most accomplished Tractarians and Newman himself had practically admitted its justice--at least in their own case--by their secession to the Roman Catholic Church. In 1843, although Pusey had been the object of frequent attacks, his learning and his character had forbidden as yet any more violent expression of party animosity; whereas now he stood before the University as a condemned man--condemned, it is true, without having had a hearing, and by a process which deprived the con–demnation of moral weight -- but still, before the University and the world condemned, and emerging for the first time from the silence which the sentence of condemnation had imposed on him. It was impossible that an extraordinary interest should not attach to his reappearance in the University pulpit; and the sermon was anticipated and listened to with greater eagerness--it is probably not too much to say -- than any other University sermon in the present century.
The arrangement of Christ Church Cathedral in 1846 was very unlike that of the present day. A solid organ-screen, dating from the Restoration, and pierced by some glazed apertures, cut off the real choir of the church from the transepts and truncated nave, and left a much smaller area within which it was possible to hear a sermon. Never–theless the choir thus shut off from the pulpit was crowded from end to end: the organ-loft looked as though it might give way, such was the mass of Undergraduates who had got into it; even the triforium had been invaded by eager listeners. Every inch on the floor of the church was occupied. 'Dr. Pusey,' writes an eye-witness, 'had to move slowly through the dense mass on his way to the corner of the Cathedral where the Vice-Chancellor and Doctors assemble, visible to nobody but those immediately along the line he had to pass; his perfectly pallid, furrowed, mortified face looking almost like jagged marble, immov–ably serene withal, and with eyes fixed in deep humility on the ground, formed a curious contrast with the thick expec–tant crowd, which the beadles moved aside for him' . The procession of Heads was obliged to pass straight from the transept to their seats, instead of following their accus–tomed course, down the south aisle, and then up the nave. When he reached the pulpit, Pusey as usual knelt in prayer, disappearing from sight until the conclusion of the hymn. The sermon lasted for a little more than an hour and a half; and was listened to with perfect stillness until the Blessing was pronounced. His voice showed no signs of nervous–ness: from first to last it was perfectly clear, even, and strong.
Pusey' s power in the pulpit was in no sense that of a popular preacher. He owed nothing to those arts and accomplishments which have been carried to their greatest perfection in the Church of Massillon and Bourdaloue, and which have never been altogether neglected in any part of Christendom. He had no pliancy of voice; no command over accent, or time, or tone; he did not relieve or assist the attention of his audience by a change of pace, from fast to slow, or by pausing between his paragraphs, or by looking off his pages; his eye was throughout fixed on the manuscript before him, and his utterance was 'one strong, unbroken, intense, monotonous swing, which went on with something like the vibrations of a deep bell.' Nor did Pusey' s method or matter supply the defects--if defects they were--of his manner as a preacher. Masses of learning--much of it derived from sources of which the majority even of an University audience had never heard--were only relieved by long, reiterated exhorta–tions, to which fancy, or invective, or anecdote rarely contributed any such element as could modify the reign of a stern monotony. Yet men, old and young, listened to him for an hour and a half in breathless attention: because his moral power was such as to enable him to dispense with the lower elements of oratorical attraction; or it would have rendered their presence an intrusion on higher and holier ground. As J. B. Mozley said, 'Pusey seemed to inhabit his sentences.' Each sentence was instinct with his whole intense purpose of love, as he struggled to bring others into communion with the truth arid Person of Him Who purified his own soul; and this attribute of profound reality which characterized his dis–course from first to last, as it fell on the superficial and somewhat cynical thought of ordinary academical society, at once fascinated and awed the minds of men, and--whether they yielded their convictions to the preacher or not--at least exacted from them the homage of a sus–tained and hushed attention.
The sermon was preached on St. John xx. 21-23, and especially on those words of our Lord to His Apostles, 'Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them.' It opened with a reference to the preacher' s recent suspen–sion, as due to his own 'secret sins.' Then he glanced at the course of teaching which the suspension had inter–rupted. He had been engaged in exhibiting to the penitent Christian the means of his restoration, and the earnests of his pardon. Of these means he had spoken first of the Holy Eucharist, as less likely to provoke controversy than Absolution, although coming later in the order and experi–ence of the Christian life; and he now summarized his condemned sermon in a few well-chosen words, which reasserted to the very full its doctrinal position. He then passed to the subject before him. All forgiveness of sin is from God. The Church or her ministers are not instead of, but the instruments of Christ, the One Absolver. That He, the One Absolver, did delegate to His Church the absolving power, was plain from the words spoken in the upper chamber; and that the Church of England recognizes this His gracious and awful gift, is clear not only from the less explicit absolutions pronounced over congrega–tions where general sin only may be presumed, in the Daily Service and the Holy Communion, but also and especially in the absolution of the sick after private confession. 'By His authority committed unto me, I absolve thee from all thy sins,' are the words which she puts into the mouth of her priests in the chamber of death; and when those words are read in connexion with the sentence in which an Anglican Bishop addresses the man whom he is ordain–ing as a priest, 'Whose sins thou dost forgive they are forgiven,' there can be no doubt that the Church of England teaches the reality of priestly absolution as explicitly as it has ever been taught, or is taught to-day in any part of the Catholic Church.
A large part of the sermon is devoted to practical and spiritual aspects of the subject. Thus, looking to the absence of public and private discipline in the Church of England during past years, he sees a bright side even to that conspicuous neglect of the will of our Lord, which is involved in the neglect of Holy Communion. It is better not to communicate than to communicate carelessly and profanely.
'My whole object, brethren, in all this which I would say, is the comfort of penitents, according to the provisions which our Church has made for them. Elsewhere' I have sought, from the practice of primitive antiquity, to vindicate the practical state of our Church, in which Confession is dispensed with as matter of necessity, and left to the consciences of individuals. Yet certainly they who leaving private confession discretionary, put their hand to the work of restoring public discipline, thought not that things would be amongst us as they now are; for Ridley spake of public discipline as " one of the marks whereby the true Church is known in this dark world," and Latimer (with others) saith, " To speak of right and true Confession, I would to God it were kept in England; for it is a good thing." Yet God Who in His wisdom suffered their designs to come to nought, has thereby the more cast upon the Church herself, and, we may trust, would make her discipline the purer, in that He has deprived her of all outward aid in restoring it. And we may even be thankful that the rules which remain, requiring all her members to partake of her ordinances, have passed into disuse. For this is most certain, that to encourage indiscriminately the approach to the Holy Communion, without a corresponding inward system whereby they, who are entitled so to do, should know intimately the hearts of those whom they so encourage, has brought with it an amount of carelessness and profana–tion, which, if known, would make many a heart of those who have done so, sink and quake.
'It is, then, we may trust, of God' s manifest mercy to this portion of His Church, that He has, at the same time, by His Providence allowed almost all remains of that outward compulsory system to be broken down; and by His Spirit within has aroused, and is arousing, people' s consciences more and more, to desire the full provisions which He has laid up in her for wounded souls. For so shall the whole be the more seen to be His work, and- discipline be not the constraint of the dis–obedient, but, as oftentimes in the oldest times, the longed-for refuge of earnest minds, the binding-up of the broken-hearted, the austere yet loved chastisement of the flesh," that the soul may be saved in the Day of the Lord." We can bear no sudden restoration. But in this and all things we need but patiently to wait for His Hand, Who is so graciously and wonderfully restoring us. That type of fatherly rule must be the characteristic of our Church: " volentes per populos dat jura." " The people shall be willing in the day of Thy power.ä'
He had felt he had no choice as to whether he would preach on the subject. The reason was imperative and overwhelming.
'There is no choice. Consciences are daily awakened by God' s Spirit; some to the knowledge of a frightful past; others, it may be, are unduly burthened. Satan, in the absence of skilful advisers, who might guard the soul against evil, at first subtle, but very desolating, has spread his snares with a dreadful wisdom. Luxury, and the sins of a self-indulgent people, the corruption transmitted from one brief generation of youth to another, or self-originated through the early deceits of Satan, have spread among us a widely-wasting mass of evil, unknown mostly, unwarned against, and therefore the more destructive. Too many know how sin, commenced with scarce the knowledge that it was sin, has, for years of life, cankered every pur–pose of good; perhaps prepared for deeper, more overt, deadly sin!'
He has a word of comfort for those who, from whatever reason, have no opportunity of making confession and receiving absolution.
'It is certain by the consent of the Universal Church, that whoso is truly contrite of any the most deadly sin--all, which the Ancient Church subjected to years of penitence, and then by imposition of hands formally restored, yea, if he had on him the sins of the whole world, and longeth for Absolution, is absolved. And if the comfort is for a time withheld, while as yet he knows not to whom to turn, who knows what deeper penitence God may not amid this suspense be working in his soul? God' s delays are man' s benefits. " Ask, and ye shall receive.ä'
In a Christian University--such as Oxford by its statutes and legal character then was--there ought, he pleads, to be no such difficulty. The College tutors were, with hardly an exception, ordained priests of the Church.
'It is one of the especial blessings of this place that each is assigned to the care of one who, by his sacred office, is bound to care for his soul. Blessed as that relation has been to many of us, more blessed far might it be to the young, would they recollect that they, with whom they are brought into this relation, are not mere guardians of discipline, but ministers of God. And if the soul of any be burthened, they are, by the very name of their office, protectors, guardians, and in the place of parents. We need no new relations, but to bring into fuller life what God has given us' .
Even after this lapse of years the sermon cannot be read without renewing something of that moral and spiritual glow which illuminated the souls of the majority of the great congregation which listened to it. The concluding paragraphs are a magnificent exhortation to those who have sinned deeply and have been pardoned, to devote their lives to some self-denying form of Christian work.
But apart from its theological and spiritual interest, this sermon was really a moral victory for Pusey. In the statement of his whole theological position, he threw down a challenge to his opponents, and they did not dare to take it up. Some time before preaching the sermon he had seen Dr. Jelf, and told him that he meant to reaffirm the doctrine of his last sermon. 'Take care,' said Dr. Jelf, 'how you do it: because if they suspend you a second time it will be in perpetuity.' Pusey replied that he had only used the language of St. Ambrose and other Fathers. 'They care nothing about the Fathers,' rejoined Dr. Jelf, 'you had better use the language of English divines.' This advice was acted on: Pusey restated the doctrine of the condemned sermon exactly, partly in the words of the Communion Service, and partly in those of Bishop Wilson' s 'Sacra Privata.'
The reality of Priestly Absolution was probably even less welcome to the Puritan and Latitudinarian members of the University than the re-statement of the doctrine of the Eucharistic Presence. But in teaching the truth and efficacy of the Absolving Power, Pusey was also legally as well as theologically on unassailably strong ground, and he knew it.
'He had,' says J. B. Mozley, 'such a huge weight of Church authority with him that he seemed to occupy the whole ground and possess the building for himself. He seemed to turn the vast tide of clamour which has been trying to disconnect us from the Church so long upon the other side.'
Pusey' s opponents understood the situation. Some of them would gladly have acted on 'the Vice-Chancellor' s hint that Pusey should be delated. But what was there to delate? The priestly commission to absolve given in the Ordinal, and the authoritative interpretation of that commission in the words which the Visitation Service puts into the mouth of individual priests, 'By His authority committed unto me, I absolve thee from all thy sins,' are integral parts of the Prayer-book. Read in the plain sense of the English language they covered everything Pusey had advanced. His opponents and the Puritan party generally had not yet ventured--as they did afterwards, and have since--On the non-natural interpretation of these passages: an interpretation so violent as to surpass altogether that which they had themselves endeavoured to fasten upon Newman. They knew too well that an attack on Pusey in respect to the whole sermon would not bear argument, at any rate before a University public, however generally prejudiced in their favour. Their discre–tion was pardonably in excess of their valour: and Pusey' s sermon was left alone. But he had prepared for the worst. He was determined this time that, if he were condemned, he would be heard before his condemnation. In order to secure this he sent his sermon by post, out of Oxford, immediately after preaching it. Had the Vice-Chancellor asked him for the sermon, he could have appealed to the statute which provides that if a delated sermon is not forthcoming, the preacher shall be examined in person respecting the point on which he has been delated.
That this precaution was not altogether uncalled for became apparent from a leading article in The Times of Tuesday, Feb. 3. That article would appear to have been written by some one who had heard the sermon; and it accurately reflects the scared and fanatical irritation of Pusey' s opponents, who, as J. B. Mozley had observed four months previously, 'talked and acted as if Pusey were a lion, or some beast of prey.' The writer said everything that he could to provoke a delation of the sermon. After sneering at the supposed insincerity of Pusey' s reference to secret sins of his own which God had punished by suspen–sion, he proceeded to point out, and with justice, that the sermon on the Absolution of the Penitent was the 'fit and natural conclusion' of the sermon which had been condemned.
'It betrays,' he continues, 'the same leaning to doctrines repudiated by the Church of England; it exhibits the same clouds and darkness, and deals in the like subtle and abstruse enigmas. Lowly as the style may look, there is no mistaking the animus which flows (sic) beneath it; priestly self-satisfaction and sufficiency creep to the very surface; an unconquered will pervades it. The text of the sermon already announces the assumption of the old position, and proclaims the tenacity with which the holy warrior is prepared to fight for sacerdotal rights.'
The writer was too shrewd to refer to the formularies of the Church of England; and he is evidently not less angry with the text--as indeed he had every reason for being~ than with the sermon. On this occasion the leading journal thundered in vain. The cooler heads at Oxford knew what was and what was not capable of being represented with any chance of success as 'a doctrine repudiated by the Church of England.' A second secret tribunal would have been impossible; and Pusey' s opponents could only regret that the Reformers had done their, work incompletely and that the Prayer-book contained 'relics of Popery' behind which Pusey could only too easily take shelter.
The days passed, and no summons from the Vice–-Chandellor arrived. 'Pusey,' wrote J. B. Mozley, 'is in high spirits,--good spirits rather: and I think a little feeling of satisfaction at having silenced his silencers so effectually might a little mingle with his feelings' . The usual formula in regions inhabited by the Heads of Houses was that the sermon was 'much to be lamented but not to be complained of.' 'Mr. Mildmay of Merton,' writes Lady Lucy Pusey to Lady Emily two days after the sermon, 'tells me that the Warden, whose opinions were very different from Edward' s, had said " they were not going to do anything, and that they wanted peaceä' . 'The Heads say " We want peace,ä' wrote Pusey to Rev. T. E. Morris; 'I wish it had been found out sooner.' He wrote to Keble of the general result as 'a great and undeserved mercy, which he trusted had helped to quiet minds' that were in doubt about the claims of the English Church.
The publication of the sermon in London followed Within a few weeks upon its delivery. Pusey added some pages of preface, in which he discusses, from the point of religious common-sense rather than that of Church authority, the objections which were urged against the Sermon.
With characteristic gentleness he deals with that widespread feeling or temper, so difficult to analyze, which set itself against the special doctrine and practices which he was advocating. The sermon was sent by Pusey to many friends, and to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Mr. Harrison acknowledged it: but objected to Pusey' s reference in his preface to Roman Catholic books of direction for confessors. Pusey replied:--
E.B. P. TO REV. B. HARRISON.
Christ Church, March 2, 1846.
With regard to my quoting R. C. manuals. People object to all confession as applied to the young, because their minds, they say, are poisoned. I know how the young suffer from want of confession. Every case of penitence I know of (and it is borne out by others) began in early sin for which confession would have been the remedy. I must know of some too, I believe I may say thousands (for one hears indirectly of so much more without hearing names) of deadly early sin, which confession might, by God' s blessing, have saved. I believe this prejudice sown against confession is purely the work of the devil. Yet it is being done diligently. People are not ashamed to read and circulate the work of an infidel. I felt it then a duty to protest strongly against all this. And in proof of it, what words could I refer to but the R. C.s themselves? It is the only evidence. Bailly too has just been infamously misrepresented in a tract circulated by a R. C. convert (?). Such converts make one think of the Jewish saying, 'Proselytes are the leprosy of the Church.'
I purposely had the two sermons done up together. The first sentence of my sermon meant (as The Times perfectly understood it) to acknowledge that I deserved the chastisement of God, not the censure of man. I meant to reaffirm the doctrine of the sermon, while I owned that I myself for 'secret faults,' not for the doctrine, was so chastened. Others may, if they please, acknowledge the authority of the Six; I protested against it; I believe my sermon to contain God' s truth, and that is dearer to me than man' s authority. One must protest against heresy even in the Abp. of Dublin, or against authority put forth against the truth in the Six·
E. B. P.
Archdeacon Churton had been unwilling to take part in the consecration services at St. Saviour's, but he hailed the appearance of Pusey' s sermon with genuine satisfaction. He had his criticisms to make on portions of it. As to the general worth of the sermon, the Archdeacon expressed himself as follows
Feb. 26, 1846.
I did not wish to write to thank you for your sermon before I had read it. Having now found time to do so in the midst of many occupations, it is due to your kindness in sending it to me, and to the good earnest doctrine of the sermon itself, to thank you for it very heartily.
As none of the Oxford Doctors appear to have found fault with it, one is relieved from all fear as to the doctrine, and there was no occasion for me to read it, as I did your sermon on the Holy Eucharist, wondering when and where the condemned proposition would appear. I hope it is not too much to say that which I really feel most inclined to say on this happy result: I do not so much congratulate you on an event which has virtually effaced the former discouragement, as I am grateful to a good Providence which has protected you in deliver–ing your own soul of truths so important, and so deeply affecting our hopes of better days and reviving discipline to the afflicted Church--so calculated at once to put the individual conscience of hearers and readers on an earnest self-examination, and to awaken the hearts of the young candidates for the Church' s ministry in Oxford and else–where to a sense of the responsibilities, the difficulties and dangers, as good Bp. Bull would have said, of the Priest' s sacred office. I trust I am truly grateful for this restoration of our hopes; and let me humbly and heartily believe, that God, Who has given you such a portion of faith and patience, has still good work for you to do in the midst of all our pressing and perilous controversies. . .
Ever very sincerely yours,