Project Canterbury

Life of Edward Bouverie Pusey
by Henry Parry Liddon, D.D.

London: Longmans, 1894
volume four

Transcribed by The Revd R D Hacking
AD 2002










THE events described in the last chapter caused Pusey to feel very keenly the growing separation between himself and the more extreme  'Ritualist'  wing. In letters of this period he allowed himself occasionally to express his thoughts in language which represented only one side of his attitude towards Ritual. For instance, writing to Dr. Bright on the subject shortly after the presentation of the Report of Convocation he expresses himself in the following somewhat unmeasured terms. 


[July 28, 1873.]

I have a thorough mistrust of the Ultra-Ritualist body. I committed myself some years ago to Ritualism, because it was unjustly persecuted, but I do fear that the Ritualists and the old Tractarians differ both in principle and in object. I hear that there is a body, called  'the Society of the Faith,'  or some such name, which desires that none except Ultra-Ritualists should belong to it.

Dr. Bright greatly feared that Pusey would allow his irritation against the injudicious action of a few of the younger Ritualists, to make him forget his own earlier statements in defence of the principle of ritual.


July 29, 1873.

I do not belong to [that Society] and have not the slightest intention of doing so. Nor am I as you know an  'Ultra-Ritualist,'  but I cannot quite go with all you say about  'ritualism.'  I believe that within limits (everything can be abused)--within limits it is simply the Providential, inevitable outcome of the Movement now just forty years old. You yourself, you remember, threw your shield over it as being the response to the people' s demand or desire-- 'Set these truths visibly before us.'  It has made Catholicism intelligible to masses of men, it has brought together a great force of enthusiasm, energy, corporate feeling--all of course needing careful management, and not always receiving it. I fully own that some of the Ultra-Ritualists are in excess, grave excess in more ways than one . . . still the principle is not compromised by foolish or headstrong representatives.

Pusey replied:  'It is true I did use those words about Ritualism. There was Ritualism in the Oakeley School, and the old Margaret Street Chapel, all along co-existent for many years with ours. But they have developed since.... I do not break with the Ritualists, because of the good work which some are doing.'  He then went on to com–plain, almost with bitterness, of the extravagance and ignorance of some of those who called themselves by that name, although he never forgot or denied that there were other Ritualists who were not so indiscreet, and whose loyal self-sacrifice in winning souls had endeared them to him.

Pusey, however, felt most strongly the great disad–vantage of the position in which even the moderate High Churchmen were placed with regard to ritual. So long as they refused to obey the Purchas Judgment, they were regarded by the public as men who set  'the law'  at defiance. The passing of the new Judicature Act in 1873, which established another and better Final Court of Appeal, seemed to offer some hope that that Judgment might be reversed by this newly constituted body. He writes on this subject to Liddon.


Dec. 29, 1873.


It certainly would be a great gain (if we lawfully could) to have the points raised in the Purchas Case reconsidered, after hearing. Theoretically it would only be seeking the reversal of the decision of one Civil Court by a fairer Civil Court. But it would seem unreal, if the Case should, be dispassionately considered, to appeal to a Court and not abide by its explanation of the Rubric.'  We are in a disad–vantageous position. Englishmen love what is legal, and of course, in itself, the feeling is right; and we are breaking judge-made law, and cannot make it popularly clear that we are contradicting bad law, still less, why being members of an Establishment, we do not comply with the laws of the Establishment…

While matters were in this state it was announced that the Archbishop of Canterbury was about to bring in a Bill for the purpose of speedily and economically enforcing  'the law,'  or, as Mr. Disraeli described it, of  'putting down Ritualism.'  The differences between the so-called  'Ritualists'  and the old High Churchmen effectually deprived the leading laymen on their side of any firm ground of defence. It was asked, if the Purchas Judgment was not to be obeyed as a fair interpretation of the Rubrics, what kind of interpretation would the majority of the High Church party accept? Pusey and Liddon could have spoken for themselves; but they could not speak for the  'Ritualists." They therefore appealed to the Rev. A. H. Mackonochie, the well-known vicar of St. Alban' s, Holborn, as one who was most prominently associated in the public mind with the development of ritual, and as one in whose judgment, as was shown in the last chapter, they had special confidence.


March 14, 1874.

You will have seen from the newspapers that we are threatened with legislation having for its object the summary enforcement of recent disputed decisions of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. If, as is apparently the case, we can trust the articles which have appeared in the Times, the Episcopal authority is to be shared--in the work of the diocesan administration--with laymen elected by the nominees of the ratepayers and therefore not necessarily Churchmen or Christians; while it is proposed that those directions of the Prayer-book which are notoriously disregarded by the Low Church and Broad Church clergy shall no longer have the power of law.

We will not characterize this project as it deserves. But we wish to submit to you, that even if, as we trust will be the case, it should be defeated, it points to a permanent source of danger to the progress of Church work and life among us.

There are, of course, opponents whom [nothing] that we can do or say will ever conciliate, since, unhappily for themselves, they reject the revealed doctrines of Sacramental grace, and, not infrequently, the more central truths of Christianity from which these doctrines directly radiate. But if such persons are assisted by others who seriously believe what God has revealed, or wish to do so, we have reason to ask ourselves whether we ever act or speak in a way calculated to cause needless  'offence,'  and so to retard that very work of God which we have at heart.

Must it not be acknowledged in view of the exaggerated ceremonial and ill-considered language, which are sometimes to be found among (so called)  'Ritualists,'  that there are grave reasons for anxiety on this head? We at least cannot help thinking so, and we are therefore writing to ask you to use your great influence with many of our brethren, in favour of a course which appears to us to be recommended alike by charity for souls, and by loyalty to the common Truth.

Would it not be possible to take some early opportunity of con–sidering how much of recent additions to customary ritual could be abandoned without doing harm? We will not attempt to go into details. But surely matters of taste or feeling, not necessarily or of long habit associated with the enforcement or maintenance of doctrine, yet calculated to alarm the prejudiced and uninstructed, ought, on St. Paul' s principle, to be at least reconsidered. If we could show that we have unity and humility at heart, as truly as we have at heart the loyal maintenance of the Church' s faith and worship, much of the existing opposition would be disarmed, and we might hope by God' s mercy to escape from dangers which are more imminent  'and serious than appearances would suggest.

You will, we are sure, understand this appeal in the sense in which it is addressed to you, viz, that of a sincere wish to secure whatever has really been gained of late years in the way of faith and reverence, to the glory of our Lord and the good of souls.

Mackonochie' s reply to this appeal is given in his  'Life'  almost at full length. He acknowledged his inability to answer the question, or to influence those who were more advanced in ceremonial than he was himself; and he pleaded most warmly against being obliged to give up any of that Ritual which had become dear to his people as the expression of their faith. It was a vigorous, warmhearted letter, but useless for Pusey' s purpose. It was obviously impracticable to suggest to the Archbishops as a standard of Ritual that measure of ceremonial which the congregation of St. Alban' s had been taught to desire.

Meanwhile, Pusey wrote a powerful letter to the Times, on March 13, against the scheme of Church legislation which had been foreshadowed in a leading article in that paper. He pleaded for delay in the creation of any new facilities for enforcing the existing Judgments, on the ground that the new Final Court might possibly be found to reverse previous decisions: and urged a reconsideration of the whole object of the proposed Bill. Two other letters followed in reply to leading articles in the same paper, and yet a third, in answer to a challenge that he should formulate his own remedy, in which he pleaded that the real cure lay in a better understanding between the Bishops and their clergy. He went on to say:--


March 28, 1874.

I speak from personal knowledge when I say that the Bishops might have guided the Movement of 1833, &c., if they would. There was nothing that we who were young then, so much wished. The battle-cry of the early Tracts was,  'Let us rally round our Fathers the Bishops.'  I believe that now, too, things would come right, if the Bishops would be to us  'Fathers in God.'  . . . Some of our Bishops have been in an unnatural position towards us. When they shall no longer be constrained by their own respect for a judicial sentence, and when that ill advised petition of the 483 shall be forgotten, the Bishops will, I doubt not, be influenced by their own feeling, and by a sense of their spiritual office, to resume their fatherly relation to all their Clergy, and we shall again rejoice to think and speak of them as  'Fathers in God.'  God, the great Father of all, will, I hope, turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and of the children to the fathers.

When the Archbishop of Canterbury had introduced his Bill for the Regulation of Public Worship, these letters were republished from the Times at the request of Dean Church, with a preface restating the, arguments. In it Pusey con-tended that the Bill was in no way adequate to meet the difficulties of the moment; that even supposing all ritual to be abolished, the tumults would not cease, inasmuch as the attack of the  'Church Association'  was really directed against belief in the Sacraments. He pointed out further that, seeing that the direct attack in the Bennett case had conspicuously failed, and that the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist, which the obnoxious ritual was intended to express, had thus been admitted to be in accordance with the teaching of the Church of England, the next most obvious step would be more clearly to define the legitimate limits of that ritual as ordered by the Prayer-book. The Ritualists, he trusted, would be satisfied when so much of ritual had been conceded as should elevate the Holy Eucharist to its proper position as the centre of Christian worship. And the laity would cease to be alarmed when they know that changes would not be made against their wishes.

But the Archbishop' s Bill went forward, and its promoters were able to count on the support of the Conservative majority in the House of Commons. Pusey saw that this was not the time for any separation in the ranks of those who were being attacked. The Archbishop was being urged on by men who hated the whole High Church position. In such a crisis Pusey readily laid aside all his irritation about acts which he could not himself defend, and endeavoured to rally round him all the Ritualists.

He made a stirring speech at the crowded anniversary meeting of the English Church Union in St. James'  Hall, on June 16. But he made use of the opportunity to make some suggestions which he hoped might restrain excessive Ritual. Having shown the doctrinal value of Ritual, he added:--

 'Now there is special danger lest the love of the beautiful should interfere with the inward spiritual life. This is of course, what our enemies say. But fas est et ab hoste doceri.... of course I am not speaking of the devoted leaders of the Ritual movement, who have given their lives to the recovery of the lost sheep for whom Christ died. But every movement has its defects, and I believe that this love of Ritual for its own sake is one of the weak points which Almighty God means by this check to correct.'

He went on to dwell on the danger of arbitrarily reviving obsolete usages, which the people were ill-prepared to receive, and concluded with an appeal for union, on the ground of the experience of the later Tractarian days.

 'I believe that one great end of this check is to consolidate us. There has been too much of guerilla warfare of late--every one doing what was right in his own eyes. One secret of our strength in the early days of this great Movement was our union. What one thought, all thought; what one said, all said. We taught what we inherited from those before us, deepened by the study of the Fathers to whom the Church of England sent us. Other days came, and extreme articles (as they then seemed, I forget what was in them) were written in our common organ by one now an extreme Ultramontane, by another who has withdrawn from theology. The storm was raised as now. People were maddened. You will have heard how it broke upon a Tract which taught nothing but what we all held and hold, and upon its author, and cost us him who, with John Keble, was one of the two bright jewels of the English Church, John Henry Newman. Yet when the storm was at its height, he said to me,  " If I had had my way, those articles would never have been written." I trust that those who think themselves most advanced in this day will profit by that experience, and retiring into the main body, will neither expose them–selves nor us, nor the Church, nor what we hold dearer than life--the Truth of God--to perils, the extent of which they cannot well, estimate; but by union will give strength to the whole.'

Soon after the meeting Pusey wrote to Mackonochie a very warm and hearty letter, dealing with a suggested reform in Convocation. He added:--


June 28, 1874.

... Your strength is and will be in the hearts of your people. These you have won wonderfully. Courts cannot really move you while you have them. . . . If the younger clergy will but win their people first as you have. . . . It was a grand Roman boast,  'Volentes per populos dat jura.'  . . . The tone of the St. James'  meeting was de–lightful. If we could but remain as one, as we were that evening.

These last words expressed Pusey' s great hope at the time. Ritualism and Puseyism were identical in the popular mind; but as a matter of fact Pusey was not a Ritualist, and he greatly doubted the wisdom and dis–liked~ the abruptness with which much of the ceremonial had been introduced into the parish churches. They had indeed a large common ground in doctrine; the question was, would the most advanced Ritualists, in view of anxieties of the moment, accept such a limitation of their Ritual that Pusey could continue to work with them and defend them? He hoped they would; in fact he hoped they had already done so at the St. James'  Hall meeting, and on July 22 asserted that hope in a letter to the Times. But he was soon undeceived; a long course of unwise treat–ment from those in authority had made the Ritualists chafe under any sort of restraint. To Pusey himself; the charge of  'lawlessness'  was most repulsive; he was bound to endure it as regards disobedience to the Purchas Judgment, for he maintained that he could only obey the law by disobeying the judge' s version of it. But  'the lawlessness'  and arbitrary self-will which was charged against some of those who were unjustly called by his name, he would have nothing to do with; and before the end of the year, he gave up their defence.  'I have made up my mind,'  he writes on October 25,  'not again to come forward in any meeting, nor to mix myself up with them.'  It was to him, as he confided to Liddon, a repetition of the history of 1841 and the following years.


Dec. 31, 1874.

The High Church have entrusted themselves to the extreme Ritualists, who are now their representatives, as the extreme party always is. Ward, &c. were in their time of the High Church, the extreme Ultramontanes [are] of the Church of Rome, the extreme Ritualists of us. They are like stragglers from an army, who have got into a defile, and finding themselves embarrassed, instead of retreating to the main body, beg the main body, at whatever cost, to support them. I mistook in my time (J. H. N. was too far-sighted), and the High Church are mistaking now. I hoped (as I said at St. James'  Hall) that they would profit by the check and fall back on the main body. I was mistaken in them, and have told Denison that I cannot fight their battle. But I do stick to the battle,  'Don' t alter the Prayer-book.'

His meaning was that so far as Ritual was the expression of the doctrine for which he had fought for so many years, he would gladly contend for it: but points of ritual were being insisted oil which caused offence without symbolizing any vital doctrine. Further, he could not attempt to defend ceremonies which were introduced against the will of the congregation; while he found it impossible to work with those who laid, as he considered, undue stress on unmeaning points of Ritual, and irritated their congregations by intro–ducing them. For points such as the Eastward Position and the Eucharistic Vestments, he felt he could not contend too stoutly. But he earnestly desired that some of the less significant ceremonial might be dropped.


West Malvern, Jan. 2, 1875.

I wish that the extreme Ritualists would take your advice, but are there any signs of it?... The Ultras have had their way; nothing has been abandoned, so far as I have heard, and the irritation has been kept up by acts which you too think unwise. Randall, of Clifton, said to me that he had not heard of Ritual being excepted against by the congregation when there was not fussiness or self-consciousness or some like fault. I do not think then, that it is fair to say (as so many do), that the objection is simply to the faith symbolized. Doubtless it is so in the controversialists, Rock, Record, Church Association, &c., but not, I think, in the people of England. The people of England have, I think, been moved much more by arbi–trariness or the dread of it; by the expectation that changes might  'be made in their mode of worshipping God, without any will of their own, by rash sayings  'against the Reformation, by continued restlessness and change. I think that in the debates last year (except in some few speakers) they were extravagances which pointed the argument.

Even granted, that whatever is not mentioned is not prohibited, or even that what is not prohibited is allowed, this surely does not give individual priests a right to revive mero motu whatever is not expressly prohibited. I suppose that in no Church or body would the claim be allowed that an individual priest should, of his own mind, change the existing Ritual without ascertaining the mind of his congregation, without the sanction of the Bishop, or the concurrence of his Co. presbyters. And in all the controversy, it is assumed that those who did make changes were perfectly right, and that every parish priest has a perfect right to do this, only that he ought to do it discreetly, but still according to his own individual judgment. But the English mind hates arbitrariness, the exercise of an individual will. And I think that they have had a good deal to complain of in this respect. There has been, and is, a good deal of infallibilism outside the Vatican decree. The whole extreme Ritualist party is practically infallibilist.  'We will not retreat; because we are certainly right.'  And so they must lay the whole blame upon their opponents'  hostility, as they think, to truth. Yet very much of their practice has no relation to the truth, or only so far as it makes the Eucharistic Service gorgeous. I do not know, e. g., that censing persons and things has anything to do with setting forth the Real Presence. Yet Lowder, in that meet–ing at Brighton, said that he had insisted upon censing persons and things, as being as important as anything. And yet to the mass of the English people (and among them to me) it is an un-understood rite. Three different explanations of it have been given me by Ritualists. (As it does not concern me, I have not looked into books.) This, and what is included in the word  'histrionic,'  is, at present especially, un-understood by the English. Our service being in English, is especially addressed to the heart and conscience. Acting interferes with this. People are taken off from their devotions to see a ceremony whose meaning they do not know. They may know it by-and-by, they do not now.

Again, there has been a good deal of pedantry.  'The use of the word  " Mass,”'  Liddon said,  'alienated thousands who ought to belong to us.'  Yet a young priest put on his church door a notice that  'there will be Mass'  at such an hour in his village church. What should the villagers understand by it? The squire of course got offended.

I asked A. Bouverie (a friend of my own) why he had joined the Petition against Vestments; he appealed to me,  'you would not go along with these,'  and gave an instance where a layman was repelled from communicating, because  'only the clergy communicate to-day.'

I think that, with this and so much beside, we have no right to assume the character of suffering simply for the Truth' s sake.

His resolution to do battle for the Prayer-book was no mere form of words. The Synod of the Irish Church had been busy preparing a scheme for the revision of the Prayer-book, in an ultra-Protestant direction; and Pusey had noticed, with the greatest distress, the proposal to mutilate the Athanasian Creed, even omitting the assertion of a right belief in the Incarnation as necessary to salvation, while attempting at the same time radically to alter the sacramental teaching of the Church. About such changes he had the same strong conviction as about the changes in the Athanasian Creed in England; they would create a new doctrinal standard, and those who forced them on would be themselves creating a schism. While the Synod was sitting in 1873, he wrote to the Archbishop of Dublin most strongly with reference to fundamental changes in the matter of Eucharistic doctrine. The letter'  is given in full in the  'Letters and Memorials'  of Archbishop Trench' . Its burden throughout is precisely that of the third of the  'Tracts for the Times' :  'No change in the Prayer-book.'   'The line of not changing the Prayer-book,'  he writes to the Archbishop,  'avoids all controversy as to details.'

When the worst proposals were being set forward by the Irish revisionists in April, 1875, he sent to the Archbishop a closely written letter of seven quarto pages commenting chiefly on the proposed new Preface to the Prayer-book; he apologized for thus intruding in the affairs of the Irish Church on the ground,  "  'It is our concern when the next house is on fire," and in Christ, it is not the next house but part of the same. In the following month the Arch–deacon of Dublin appealed to Pusey for an expression of his opinion as to the alterations proposed in the Irish Synod, such as he might publish; he desired to strengthen the hands of the Archbishop in his struggle against the enormous majority of Protestant revisionists.

Pusey sent him the following letter:--


Christ Church, Oxford, Ascension Day, 1875.

I am thankful to see your appeal. It is to me exceeding strange to see how people, who really love the truth, allow dust to be thrown in their eyes, because the denial of the truth which they love is not out–spoken. The proceedings of the (so called) Irish Synod remind me vividly of the Arian attempts to supplant the Nicene Creed by Creeds of their own, which should convey to the ear something sounding like the truth, but in fact denying it. If the Puritan party had nakedly proposed the denial of all sacramental truth, the conflict would have been intelligible, and the tyranny of imposing this denial upon their fellow Churchmen would have shocked men' s minds. As it is, by ambiguous formulae, which do not speak out their mind, they would make the Irish Church a mere Presbyterian body in all but the name, having Bishops to convey nothing except a licence to preach what men will.

I cannot but hope that your good Archbishop must, when the time seems to him to be come, repudiate the new Prayer-book with its disingenuous misinterpretations, and must officiate according to the old rite. Still, the bugbear which frightens people, and hinders their looking at the evil of these changes in the face, is the dread of schism as if this dishonest Prayer-book were not in itself schismatic and th instrument of schism. I think, then, that your movement is right t show Churchmen that, if this faith-destroying Prayer-book is insisted upon, the schism which they dread is inevitable.

But if Pusey was obliged to retire for the moment from one part of the struggle, he still had an anxious war to wage on the question of Ecclesiastical Courts. For the peace of the Church, it was very desirable that a clear

understanding should be reached with regard to these Courts. The Public Worship Regulation Act of 1874 had established a new Court for time hearing of ecclesiastical cases, in place of the old Court of Arches; and the Judicature Act of 1873 had established a new Final Court of Appeal for the same cases. Objections were raised against both Courts for different reasons; and although Pusey in a manner shared the objections, he could not altogether agree with those who alleged them.

The question of the Court of Appeal was of immediate practical importance. Lord Penzance had on Feb. 3, 1876, given his decision in the new Court created by the Public Worship Regulation Act, in the suit against the Rev. C. Ridsdale: he had condemned him on every one of the twelve charges alleged against him. On four of these points, Mr. Ridsdale appealed to the new Court of Appeal, which had taken the place of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Lord Penzance had felt himself obliged to accept earlier Judgments of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as binding interpretations of the Rubrics, and had without argument condemned Mr. Ridsdale on the points which contravened those decisions. It was hoped that the new Court of Appeal would be more in–dependent and would reconsider those decisions. The Court was to consist of Lay Judges, with a certain number of Archbishops and Bishops as Assessors. The two Arch–bishops had already taken part in the decision against the Eastward Position it the Purchas case: their presence on the bench at the Ridsdale appeal was most undesirable if the decision was to be independent. It was in these circumstances that the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote a letter to Pusey about the Episcopal Assessors: the following is Pusey' s answer:--


Nov. 21, 1876.

I did not understand those in common with whom I thought that the presence of your Graces as Assessors was not in conformity with our usual judicial proceedings, to have any ground except that you had (as they supposed) already expressed an opinion unfavourable to them. Your Grace thinks that the opinion which you have expressed does not amount to this, since you only insisted on the duty of obeying the law. In our minds this is tantamount to saying that the interpreta–tion of the law given in the Purchas Judgment was right. The law which we are bound to obey (your Grace knows) is the Rubrics, as laid down by the Church. A misinterpretation of these Rubrics is not law. If acquiesced in, it would be acknowledged as the right interpretation of the law and be identified with it, as your Grace has done in reproaching us, as disobeying the law because we disregard its interpretation some in more points, some in fewer. I understand that something of this sort takes place in Civil Courts, and gives rise to what is called  'judge-made law.'  And these interpretations become in time as much law as the original law, of which they are undisputed interpretations. If we did not in act and considerable numbers contravene the Purchas Judgment, we should fasten what we think a misinterpretation of the law around our own necks. Opponents can afford to wait till a few opponents die out.

Your Grace will allow me to say that we are not always the best judges of the strength of our own expressions, especially if we have a thing much at heart. However right or wrong, this was our ground in excepting against your two Graces as Assessors, that the decision which we sought to have reversed was reported to have been drawn up by his Grace the Archbishop of York, and to express his mind, and that your Grace' s language amounted to agreement with it.

Your Grace seems to ask me whether those with whom I am interested in obtaining an impartial review of the Purchas Judgment would decline pleading before the new Court unless they thought the Assessors to be favourable to them. I have not been at their discus–sions, but all which I have heard from Mr. C. Wood amounts to an exception against Assessors who have committed themselves or who seem to them to have committed themselves against them. This would apply to some Bishops as well as to your Graces.

Altogether, the relation of your two Graces'  suffragan Bishops to yourselves would make their position as Assessors an embarrassing one, since if they decide in our favour, they would have to assist in reversing the Judgment of one Archbishop, in which the other is thought to concur.

My conviction is that the Court most likely to command acquies–cence would be a purely Civil Court. It is not like a matter of faith, in which Bishops ought to express the mind of the Church, and yet they might (as in the Essays and Reviews case), and the Judgment might be delivered contrary to their conviction of the truth. . . . The quasi-ecclesiastical element in those decisions was what shook people' s minds through and through, lost us many who might have done the Church good service, and who have since done her great harm. Could we have thought early in 1850 of the Court as we now do, it might have saved great harm and loss.

I believe then that the best way out of the difficulties into which the Purchas Judgment has plunged us would be to make the Court of Appeal a purely Civil Court. I trust that the impartiality of the Judges would produce a decision which, although it might please neither party, would yet bring peace. Else I see no prospect except of continued prosecutions and condemnations in undefended suits until the arm would be more tired of smiting than we of being smitten. And yet it would be unjust to leave any of us, since myself and Canons Gregory and Liddon contravene the Purchas Judgment as distinctly, though not upon so many points, as the Ritualists.

In the meantime the Rev. A. Tooth, Vicar of St. James' , Hatcham, had been prosecuted in the Court of Lord Penzance for Ritualism. From the very first he had refused to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the Court, and had declared that he would not obey its decisions. Lord Penzance gave judgment against him, and, on further complaint, suspended him on December 2, 1876, from per–forming Divine service for three months. Pusey had all along defended Lord Penzance' s Court as a Court which had jurisdiction over temporalities; but its judge had now passed a sentence which deprived a clergyman of the exercise of his spiritual functions. But he wished to understand the position which the advanced party took on this subject; he therefore wrote to Mr. Wood, who as President of the English Church Union would be most likely to be able to give him the desired explanation:--


Christ Church, Oxford, Dec. 4, 1876.

I do not understand the line of the Ritualists about the new Court. I could understand their objecting to it, because it is bound by a wrong decision (the Purchas Judgment) of a Superior Court. But I do not see how the appointment by Act of Parliament vitiates the authority of the court in which Lord Penzance provides. The Act of Parliament does not give, or profess to give, any spiritual authority to it; it gives it power only to inflict temporal penalties, which of course it could not have, simply as the Archbishops'  Court.

But Lord Penzance holds his appointment from the Archbishops, whereas the former Court of Arches represented one only. It does not vitiate the fact that he holds his authority from the two Archbishops; that, if they did not appoint, the civil power would nominate a judge. He holds his appointment from the Archbishops, and this is not affected by any other possible mode of appointment, in default of their appointing. Some of us, I think, got into the habit of thinking lightly of the Archbishops'  Court, because it was at times administered by a prejudiced layman. Of course there ought to be an appeal to the Bishops of the Province, but this is not urged.

Now, what I think we have to make clear to ourselves is, what we do mean; that we may not seem to use arguments whose validity we do not recognize, or reject particular authority because we reject all authority except our private judgment. There ought to be an answer to the Bishop of Lichfield' s question,  'Whom, or what would you obey?'  I suspect that most of the Ritualists would be at a loss for an answer. Their line seems to me to be-- 'We are certainly right, we shall obey our own consciences and what we think to be right, and shall obey no authority, spiritual or temporal, which contra–venes this.'

This is something tangible; but then it is not acting openly, to except against the mode of appointment of a particular judge, if all authority alike is rejected. I am not arguing the case. I only desire openness.

Archbishop Tait urged it as an argument for the present spiritual element in the Supreme Court, that the Ritualists only wished to eliminate it in order then to disclaim the authority of the Court as a purely secular Court.

To me it has seemed the safe line to acknowledge the authority of the Supreme Court in temporals and (as Mill, Manning, R. Wilber–force worded it)  'the temporal accidents of spiritual things,'  viz, our temporalities.

While he was still hoping to be able to act with his friends in this matter of the Courts, Pusey was confronted with the following Resolution which it was proposed to submit to a general meeting of the English Church Union early in 1877:--

 'That this meeting declares that in its judgment any sentence of suspension or inhibition pronounced by any Court sitting under the Public Worship Regulation Act is spiritually null and void, and that, should any priest feel it his duty to continue to discharge his spiritual functions, notwithstanding such sentence, he is hereby assured of the sympathy of this meeting, and of such support and assistance as the circumstances of the case may allow.'

This resolution Pusey only felt able to interpret as a declaration that the English Church Union, of which he was a Vice-President, considered that the clergy were not bound by the decision of any existing Courts. He at once sent in his resignation, because, as a Vice-President of the Union, he would be considered to be responsible for it. He privately explained the reason for this act in the following letter to Mr. Wood


Christ Church, Oxford, Feast of Holy Innocents, 1876.

What compels me to leave the E. C. U. is that they propose to put forth propositions which I do not think honest, and yet, as a member of it, and having taken a prominent part in the defence of the Ritualists, I should seem to agree with them.

In these last Resolutions, the E. C. U. shifts its ground from the Purchas Judgment to the Public Worship Bill. The ground against the Purchas Judgment was, on a matter of fact, that it was bad law: the ground against the Public Worship Bill is against the Ecclesiastical Court. I do not see any difference which the P. W. B. makes, except that it makes shorter work (they say). Lord Penzance was appointed by the two Archbishops, Sir Robert Phillimore by one. The Supreme Court is so far better than the old Committee of the Privy Council in that it has no episcopal members. I should prefer (and so would you, I suppose) a purely Civil Court.

The Resolution to which I objected, and against which I wrote, about the P. W. Bill, was carried by a large majority. Carter wrote to me that he thought that it would be a relief to me, that it was delayed till the  'Branches'  should be consulted, but, he added, that he had no doubt that the Branches would agree with it. Thus I have been already tacitly recommending what I do not agree in.

The Resolution, as I read it, declares the clergy not bound by any decision of the existing Courts. But the existing Courts make absolutely no difference. It shifts, as I said, the question from a particular wrong decision, to all authority. A clergyman writing to the Bishop of Lich–field  'on the disobedience of the clergy'  justifies this.

These are different principles from those with which we began our work forty-five years ago, and I must free myself from them. I assign no reason for ceasing to be a member of the E. C. U. (Liddon, more wisely, never, I think, became one). I shall leave people to find it out for themselves. Carter will make a better Vice-President.

I withdraw at the same time from all Church politics, and return to my former state of neutrality. My only regret (and it is a great regret) is being outwardly separated from you.

Mr. Wood, however, felt it to be of vital importance that Pusey should not thus sever his connexion with the Union. He begged him to retain his position and continue to assist them with his advice and criticism. Pusey replied that he would have preferred to retire quietly. He thought it absurd that he should remain on condition of reserving to himself a quasi-censorship of the Resolutions proposed to the Society.  'Yet,'  he adds,'  there is a large body of real High Churchmen outside, whom I must not seem to compromise by allowing myself to appear to agree to what I do not think....'

In consequence, however, of this correspondence the original terms of the Resolutions were altered, and the following Resolutions were drafted in their place, to be discussed at a general meeting of the English Church Union summoned for January 16, 1877, at the Westminster Palace Hotel:--

 '1. That the English Church Union, while it distinctly and expressly acknowledges the authority of all Courts legally constituted in regard to all matters temporal, denies that the secular power has authority in matters purely spiritual.

 '2. That any Court which is bound to frame its decisions in accordance with the Judgments of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council or any other secular Court, does not possess any spiritual authority with respect to such decisions.

 '3. That suspension a sacris being a purely spiritual act, the English Church Union is prepared to support any priest not guilty of a moral or canonical offence, who refuses to recognize a suspension issued by such a Court.

 '4. That  " the Church" (not the State)  " having power to decree rites and ceremonies and authority in controversies of faith," this Union submits itself to the duly constituted synods of the Church; and in regard to the legality of matters now under dispute, appeals to the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer, and to the interpretation put upon those Rubrics in 1875 by the resolutions of the Lower House of Convocation of Canterbury in regard to the Eucharistic Vestments and the Eastward Position.'

Pusey wrote at once to the President to express his complete satisfaction with this form of the Resolution, and withdrew his resignation, and the amended proposals were enthusiastically adopted by the meeting. In fact, he continued to belong to the Union until his death, and through the affectionate loyalty of the President, he enjoyed practically a right of veto on all their public proceedings. He was unable to attend their meetings, but carefully examined every Agenda paper that was sent to him, and wrote his opinion on any question on which he feared a wrong deci–sion. The influence of the President was sufficient to prevent anything being carried of which Pusey did not approve.

In anticipation of the Judgment of the Court of Appeal in the Ridsdale case, there were many rumours afloat. Mr. Tooth was lying in prison for disobedience to Lord Penzance, whose jurisdiction he could not recognize, and other clergy, whose parishes loyally supported them, were threatened with a similar fate at the instigation of those who were not really parishioners. Ritualists were being persecuted mercilessly by the application of the Purchas Judgment. It was now currently asserted that the Court would in the coming Judgment condemn the Eucharistic Vestments, although it would allow the Eastward Position.

At this moment of anxiety Pusey ventured to write to the Archbishop and to Lord Selborne to urge the common-sense view of a case which seemed to be going forward through a one-sided interpretation of law to widespread disaster. He only wished to point out how impossible it was to read a negative into the positive language of the .Ornaments Rubric, by which many prac–tical people believed that the Vestments were enjoined.  'When a body of men of very different minds agree in taking simple words as a simple direction, I think that there is a strong probability that they are right.'  At the same time Dean Church headed a memorial to the Archbishops and Bishops urging that the great troubles that afflicted the Church might be cured by the living voice of the Church, but would only be made worse by a series of legal actions. Pusey declined to join in this public manifesto, because he thought that any public statement before the decision was delivered would imply suspicion of the Judges, or suspicion of the weakness of the cause of those who signed it. He always felt sure that an unbiassed Court, i. e. a Court that was free to weigh the simple meaning of language and was not overruled by any preceding interpretation, must decide in favour of the essential points of Ritual.

The Judgment in the Ridsdale case was delivered on May 12, 1877: it forbade the Vestments, but allowed the Eastward Position of the celebrant. Pusey writes at once to Liddon:--


Christ Church, Oxford, May 13, 1877.

Is anything being resolved on or prepared in consequence of the Judgment?

I see a statement that 1,000 clergy have given in their adherence to Disestablishment as the only remedy. They must be very short–sighted or blinded by self-contemplation, if they do not see that Disestablishment would leave them a small minority or ecclesiola. It is best to remain with our hands tied, until we can keep them from striking one another. Disestablishment would be hopeless disruption, in which the only gainer would be Rome.

In the next month he joined in a petition against the Judgment as being a non-natural interpretation of the Ornaments Rubric; but accompanied his signature with the following characteristic letter:--


Christ Church, Oxford, Eve of St. Barnabas, 1877.

…I signed that petition, but we ought to understand what we are defending. Is it ritualism en masse, i. e. what any one may think right? or is it what can fairly be understood to be prescribed by the Ornaments Rubric? For such outsiders, or High Church men as I, ought not to be seeming to be defending one thing, while we mean to defend another.

The late Judgment has given a pou sto,  'the natural interpretation of the Ornaments Rubric and the honesty of our Prayer-book.'  I think that the straightforwardness of the English people would go along with this,  'You don' t mean that when the English Prayer-–book says  " Such ornaments are to be used," it meant they are not to be used?'

We should also have a good deal of support in mixing water with the wine quietly beforehand, since it was that which our Lord consecrated.  'Wine,'  of which Scripture speaks, meant wine with water: and with our brandied wines we may well claim to mix it. The Court of Arches allowed the mingling beforehand ; it could not come under the name of  'additional ceremony,'  because being done beforehand (as it was in the old English  'Church, sometime, and is in the Greek Church). I suppose it might conciliate those who feel scruples about intoxicating liquors. Our wine is not the oinos of the N. T. It would at best be the oinos akratos, which one stigmatized as  'drinking like a Scythian.'  It is much more like that condemned by Isaiah (v. 22).

I think what sets people against Ritualism is chiefly that the service for the Holy Eucharist is in many churches really a different service. Taking into account what is left out and what is put in, is not half adscititious? The Commandments are left out, and the prayer for the Queen and the exhortation (how much more I don' t know); then hymns are put in. Would it be in the proportion half left out and as much put in?

But I want to be honest. I am not honest, if under the plea of attacking the Privy Council Judgment as non-natural, I am really defending a great deal behind: such as ceasing persons and things, &c.

If the Ritualists would content themselves for the. time with (a) the Eastward Position; (b) the mingling the water with the wine out of the service; (c) hymns not interpolated but (if the congregation liked) sung while others were communicating or at the end; (d) whatever is really meant by the Ornaments Rubric,--I think that the battle would he easily won. They could say,  'We do not want to enforce on others the revival of an obsolete Rubric: we only wish to be allowed to do, what (though it has fallen into disuse) the Church of England bids us do) Sooner or later, I must  say in honesty, this is what I mean by attacking the late Judgment.

In the honesty of his position and the certainty that it would eventually triumph, he was joyous and confident. Immediately after the decision, the Vicar of one of  the most advanced churches was about to resign in despair. Pusey Wrote to beg him to change his mind, and with Success.


Christ Church, Oxford, May 18, 1877.


Liddon tells me that you speak of resigning. Pray do not. The battle is not lost. But it would be lost, if those who are to fight it; resign. Each individual encourages or discourages. You have a prominent post. I would gladly go to prison for you. But I can' t.

 'O fortes pejoraque passi

Mecum saepe viri . . .

Nil desperandum Christo duce et auspice Christo,'

has been my motto for many years of trouble.

                         Yours very affectionately,

                                                     E. B. PUSEY.


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