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







As time went on, the troubles of the English Church seemed to'  increase rather than to be removed. Even if the Ridsdale Judgment had been of such a character as to suggest hopes of peace, there were some who would effectually prevent their realization. Almost before it was pronounced, another storm was raised, and again on the subject of Confession. For many years Pusey had advertised, in his series of  'Adapted Devotional books,'  an edition of a  'Manual for Confessors,'  by the Abbé Gaume: the greater part had been long in type, but the completion of the book was repeatedly delayed. Such a manual was thought to be greatly needed, because of the increased use of Confession throughout the Church of England, and the great dearth of English works on the subject. While Pusey was still delaying the issue of this work year after year, a book' , entitled  'The Priest in Absolution,'  had been compiled, and was being privately circulated among the clergy, dealing with questions of practical casuistry for the guidance of those called upon to exercise the ministry of hearing Confessions. It was a book intended only for the Clergy, and, on account of the difficulty of some of the questions which the compiler felt himself bound to handle, every care was taken to guard it from a more general circulation. At this moment it is not necessary to consider whether the book was wise in its conception or sufficiently guarded in its language. A copy of it was produced in Parliament, and certain expressions were laid hold of in such a manner as to lash to fury the suspicions of those who were already only too eager to denounce the whole doctrine and practice of Confession as taught in the Church of England. Great use was made of this opportunity in the summer of 1877; sweeping denunciations were levelled against the clergy who taught Confession, and by implica–tion against those who used it for the health of their souls. No instance of misuse or scandal was ever alleged, but a general distrust and uneasiness was created in the public mind. In one respect the position was like that which gave rise to the Bennett case; Mr. Bennett' s inaccurate language had endangered true Eucharistic doctrine in the same way that some expressions in this. book had now reopened the question of Confession in the most invidious form.

With the controversy so far as it refers only to  'The Priest in Absolution,'  Pusey had no direct concern. He had not even seen the book when Lord Redesdale brought it to the notice of the House of Lords in June, 1877; but since suspicion was thrown on a practice in which he was so deeply interested, he felt that the moment called for the publication of a trustworthy guide for those who heard Confessions, and a clear restatement of the Anglican authorities for the practice. He therefore completed the preparation of Gaume' s Manual, and wrote a lengthy Preface of an historical and apologetic character. He first traced the growth of the habit of voluntary Confession during the preceding forty years, and briefly touched upon  'the hateful subject'  of the calumnious  attacks which  'ill-informed and inconsiderate'  people had brought against it. He then proceeded to quote the statements of leading Anglican Divines on the value of Confession, beginning with the emphatic language of Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley, and ending with Keble; this he thought only  'a work of charity, to bring before those who would hear some portion of the evidence that the very chief of our Divines have recognized Confession and Absolution as a provision of our Church for the healing of our infirmities and the cure of diseases which might otherwise fester and bring death upon the soul.'  At the end of the Preface he discussed the frequency of Confession as permitted by the Church of England, and the nature and extent of the  'ghostly counsel and advice'  which may in some cases accompany it. On the former point he insisted that there must be freedom: we cannot make one unvarying law for souls which God has made so varied and forms so variously; "while universal experience contradicted the a priori theories of those who describe habitual Confession as  'enfeebling,'   'injurious,'   'formal,'  and  'perfunctory.'  On the other subject, he pointed out that  'Direction'  is quite distinct from Confession, and is only given in Confession to those who wish for it. At the same time he claimed that the clergy ought to be able to guide souls, and cautioned both clergy and laity against laying so much stress on such direction as in any way to diminish the sense of the personal responsibility of each individual, or to damage the sensitiveness and impair the health of their consciences. As a postscript to this preface he reprinted the Declaration on Confession, which he and a few others had drawn up with such great pains four years earlier.

Pusey sent this preface to Liddon, stating the reasons which made him publish the book in opposition to the earnest entreaty of some who had a claim to great consideration.


Ascot Hermitage, Bracknell, 13th S. after Trin. [Aug. 26], 1877.

I do not wish to do anything which shall commit my friends. I have put off the publication of the manual for ten years; but I find that,    

 'Rusticus expectat dum defluat amnis; at ille

Labitur et labetur.'

1. I had before this an earnest entreaty that I would put off the publication; when the persons had seen the Preface they were just as earnest that I should publish at once.

2. The battle is about Confession itself. Are we to seem to give this up or carry it on sub rosa? This would be very un-English and give a great and real handle against us.

3. If we do not maintain the system of Confession plainly and unre–servedly, quiet, gentle people will go to Rome for it and it alone.

4. If I do not publish the Manual, others will; and if they do, they will publish it with all the penances of Ave Marias, devotions to the Blessed Virgin, &c., which I have systematically omitted. There is nothing distinctly (?distinctively) Roman, as I have printed it.

If I had published Gaume in those former years,  'The Priest in Absolution'  never would have been compiled. Chambers asked me to put out Gaume, and it was only on my continual delay that he pub–lished the first part and prepared  'The Priest in Absolution.'

The Church Times has committed itself to my edition completely and with much satisfaction. If I drop the reins, now that I have them for once in my hands, I am sure that some one else will pick them up, probably Phaeton.

Gaume is, as you probably know, not an ordinary Manual. They are the very words of such as S. Charles Borromeo and S. François de Sales. The only name which is blown upon is S. Liguori, but I have left out every hint of devotions which are so associated width his name. I have lately gone through the book and, although it was stereotyped, have left out all the expressions implying the necessity of Confession.

Liddon strongly advised the publication; but Pusey yet delayed for two months before sending it to the press, and it was only published just before Christmas. It was soon attacked.

REV. H. P. LIDDON, D.D., TO E. B. P.

 'Jan. 13, 1878.

In the Rock of Friday there is a long notice of the  'Advice for Con–fessors.'  The Rock is angry, but disconcerted. You should see it, though there is no reason for dissatisfaction. The providential purpose of the Rock seems to be to advertise good books by abusing them.

A member of the House of Commons also endeavoured to make some use of the book in the same way as a member of the House of Lords had used  'The Priest in Absolution,'  and Pusey had to defend himself in the Imes against many absurd charges.

But early in I878, he was for a  time removed from the strife of tongues by a serious illness. He began to show evident signs of failing health and of the exhaustion of brain which was natural after so long a life of ceaseless activity. In the middle of March he was taken ill; at first the only symptom was listlessness,  'sitting still in his chair and doing nothing for the greater part of the day.'  This was followed by faintness, helplessness, and a distressing cough. Liddon heard from day to day of his state; and on March 29, he sent Newman an anxious letter from Pusey' s daughter, Mrs. Brine, which showed the real serious–ness of the attack. Newman immediately answered; the reply recalls his visit to what was expected to be Pusey' s deathbed, at Tenby, in July, 1846.


The Oratory, March 31, 1878.

Your letter, so kindly sent me, has of course troubled me much. I fear Pusey cannot last long, and I am troubled, first on that account, and next as to my own duty under that anticipation.

I know you will give me credit for honesty and simplicity of purpose, as I do you.

If his state admits of it, I should so very much wish to say to my dearest Pusey, whom I have loved and admired for above fifty years, that the Catholic Roman Church solemnly lays claim to him as her child, and to ask him in God' s sight whether he does not acknowledge her right to do so.

Were I now writing to an ordinary Anglican, I should expect you to answer,  'If I do ask him for you, he will be sure to make a strong declaration of his fidelity to the Church of England, and so you would be baulked, as you ought to be.'  This would be the answer of a con–troversialist, but you will understand me quite otherwise. Should he make a simple avowal of, his confidence in the Anglican Church, as part of the Church Catholic, at least I should gain this comfort from it, that he died in simple good faith.

I cannot let him die, if such is God' s Will, with the grave responsi–bility lying upon me of such an appeal to him as I suggest; and, since I cannot make it my elf must throw that responsibility on some one else who is close to as you are; and this I do.'

Oh! what a world is this, and how piercing are its sorrows!

With this letter. Liddon received an alarming bulletin from Oxford which caused him to go immediately to  see Pusey: on his that evening he wrote to Newman.


3, Amen Court, St. Paul' s, April 1,1878.

This morning I received the enclosed letter from Mrs. Brine. So I went off to Oxford as soon as I could; and I have spent more than an hour with Dr. Pusey this afternoon. I found him on the whole much better than I had expected. He looked reduced by illness; but he was very bright and joyous, and even energetic. He spoke of his illness as a great subject for thankfulness, and, when I alluded to his difficulty in breathing, said that each hard breath, like the flakes of snow to St. Francis when he was shut out of his convent, was part of the Will of God. He talked chiefly about unfulfilled prophecy, and especially about Damascus, which  'George Williams used to cite as a difficulty,'  of which Dr. Pusey thought lightly.

I told him that you had asked for him, and he desired me to write  'a loving message.'  But I did not say more about the contents of your letter.

He has not a shadow of doubt as to the entire consistency of his position with the Revealed Will of God. Only two days before he became ill (he told me to-day) he  'quieted'  a person who was unsettled about the Roman question; and on Saturday last, when he was in bed and too ill to see any one, he sent another for the same purpose to Dr. King.

Only the week before last he told me how completely Mr. Allies appeared to him to have failed to answer his own book,  'The Church of England cleared from the charge of Schism' ; and how inconsistent the history of the African Church, under St. Cyprian and St. Augus–tine, was with the modern claims of Rome.

I mention these things only, as you will believe, to show you how completely his mind is at rest on the main question; though he is of course very keenly alive to the evils which result from the language and action of living authorities in the Church of England. When the Athanasian Creed was attacked, four years ago, he had made up his mind, if it was withdrawn from use, to resign his preferments; but he had no thought, so far as I know, of secession.

He always of late spoke as though the Definition, of the Immaculate Conception and the Vatican Council had made that step impossible.

You will, I am sure, forgive the explicitness with which I write this; but you would, I think, say yourself that his clear and strong con–victions were inconsistent with his being anything else than an English Churchman.

Yet his vivid sense of the fundamental unities which bind the whole Body of Christ into one, always made him speak of Rome in tender and respectful language, and without the conventional asperities of Anglican controversialists.

He is certainly somewhat better, and may rally for a time if the weather should improve. But I feel that he cannot be with us for long, and that each opportunity of seeing him is increasingly precious.

Dr. Acland says that his unwillingness to move is quite a new feature. In all previous illnesses he has tried to get up too soon. Dr. Acland attributes this to brain exhaustion.

Newman made no further allusion to the subject, al–though his notes show the sympathy with which he read the daily accounts from the sick bed. A week later Liddon paid another visit to Oxford, and sent a report from Christ Church.


April 8, 1878.

Dr. Pusey is looking rather more reduced by illness than was the case last week. And he is quite unable to talk. The deafness has increased, so that when I proposed to say some prayers, he said,  'I shall not hear what you are saying, but I shall be sure that you will pray for me.'  . . . His life is now a life of prayer, so far as he is conscious. He told me last week that he had made a kind of  'Litany'  out of the Epistle for the Fourth Sunday in Advent, which he found it a great comfort to repeat. And Mrs. Brine tells me that almost the only questions that he asks are about the hour of day or night; which is, I know, with a view to a scheme of prayers which he observes as regularly as he can. His face is quite beautiful, though thinner than last week.

As strength slowly returned, the correspondence with Newman ceased: and after a while Newman returned all Liddon' s letters, saying,  'I should have contented myself with burning that private letter of yours, but it struck me that you might like them all as memorandums to look back upon.'

When Liddon returned to Oxford in the beginning of May, he found Pusey convalescent but still very weak.  'The shadow of a great loss'  through which he had passed made him feel how uncertain was the life of his revered friend, and how great a treasure of experience and intimate acquaintance with the life of the Church during the past fifty years would pass away with him. From that date he took every opportunity of getting Pusey to dictate to him the story of the great events in which he had taken so conspicuous a part: and the book in which he wrote it down has supplied many facts for these volumes.

In July Pusey went away to the Hermitage at Ascot, where he now regularly spent the Long Vacation since he gave up his house at West Malvern. The work of the Sisters at the Convalescent Hospital, the young children whom they had brought from London slums, and the fresh air and the pines of Ascot, were a constant delight to him and made all his work easier.  'What a peaceful life I have here,'  he writes,  'amid convalescents, children glad and bright, the pines, the rooks, and Commentators on the Psalms.'  When he had completed his Commentary on the Minor Prophets in 1877, after eighteen years'  persistent labour at every spare moment, he at once began a similar work on the Psalms. This was his last great plan for Hebrew study: he worked at it continuously until his death. In Term time he lectured on these Psalms: in Vacation he increased his notes on them. But the in–terruptions were so frequent and so serious that progress was very slow.

In July also he had to resume his defence of Confession. In that month the second Lambeth Conference met, under the presidency of Archbishop Tait. Its deliberations were awaited with great anxiety by many Churchmen., A body of a hundred Bishops, gathered from every portion of the Anglican Communion, can utter an opinion which must carry great weight, and yet they may be called upon to deal with subjects on which some of them have little practical knowledge. It was greatly feared that the Arch–bishop of Canterbury would endeavour to draw this great assembly to some pronouncement on such subjects as Ritual and Confession. No formal notice of any attempt to deal with these burning questions appeared among the Agenda of the Conference; but a place was easily found for them among  'the questions submitted by Bishops desiring the advice of the Conference.'  One of these questions was about  'difficulties arising in the Church of England from the revival of obsolete forms of ritual and from erroneous teaching on the subject of Confession.'

On the Ritual question, the Conference desired  'to affirm the principle that no alteration from long accustomed ritual should be made contrary to the admonition of the Bishop of the Diocese.'  The question of Confession was far more difficult to handle. It will be remembered that the Upper House of the Convocation of Canterbury, had passed a Resolution on the subject in 1873. In 1877, when the virulent agitation against  'The Priest in Absolution'  was at its height, the Bishops sent this Resolution to the Lower House of Convocation to be accepted or rejected by them as a whole. The Lower House endeavoured in various ways to avoid this somewhat extraordinary demand; but after a long discussion, in which great dissatisfaction was expressed at such an unusual proceeding, a motion was passed asserting  'general concurrence'  in the wording of the Resolution. But now the Conference of all the Bishops could not be dealt with in the same way. Many protests were raised by English, Colonial, and American Bishops against the introduction of the subject; but these were overruled. The Resolution of 1873 suffered considerable mutilation at the hands of the Conference, and reappeared at last in the following form:--

 'Having in view certain novel practices and teachings on the subject of Confession; your Committee desire to affirm that in the matter of Confession the Churches of the Anglican Communion hold fast those principles which are set forth in the Holy Scriptures which were professed by the Primitive Church and which were reaffirmed at the English Reformation; and it is their deliberate opinion that no minister of the Church is authorized to require from those who may resort to him to open their grief a particular or detailed enumeration of all their sins, or to require private Confession previous to the Holy Communion, or to enjoin or even to encourage the practice of habitual Confession to a priest, or to teach that such practice of habitual Confession, or the being subject to what has been termed the direction of a priest, is a condition of attaining to the highest spiritual life. At the same time your Committee are not to be understood as desiring to limit in any way the provision made in the Book of Common Prayer for the relief of troubled consciences.'

Only a Committee, and a very divided one, could ever have put forth such a clumsy Resolution. Clearly no one person could have written it; but when a certain verbal agreement had been reached after a heated discussion, it was felt best to issue it as it was in all its vagueness and self-contradiction It mixed up in indiscriminate condemna–tion the enforcement of compulsory Confession (which few even of the most advanced  'Ritualists'  ever attempted to require) with the practice of habitual Confession which all High Churchmen believed to be clearly sanctioned by the Church of England. And after thus very strictly limiting the language of the Prayer-book, its concluding sentences permitted the widest construction of which that language was capable. In fact, the Opposition to Confession worked itself out on the same self-destructive lines as the Opposition to Ritual had already done: in each case the Opponents interpreted a positive statement by words which practically denied it. The Lambeth Conference was now endeavouring to insert a  'not'  into the Church' s rule for Confession, as the Ridsdale Judgment had already succeeded in doing into the Ornaments Rubric; and after insisting on their gloss, were obliged to refer to the text, which practically contradicted it. The Resolution nevertheless at first sight seemed to condemn the practice of thousands of the most loyal members of the Church.

Pusey thought it good to write at once to the Archbishop to obtain, if possible, some explanation of this ambiguous utterance.


South Hermitage, Ascot Priory, July 30, 1878.


In the draft of the report which Your Grace is reported to have presented to the Lambeth Conference, there are two expressions which I do not clearly see the force of, but which personally affect myself. They are the words  'authorized'  and  'encourage'  in the statement about Confession.

The statement declares that it is the deliberate opinion of the Con–ference that no minister of the Church of England is  'authorized' --even  'to encourage the practice of habitual Confession.'

It seems to me that by our  'not'  being  'authorized,'  you may only mean that we have no direct sanction from the Church of England. This we have never claimed. It is a detail upon which the Church of England has given no directions, leaving it to people' s consciences.

 'Habitual Confession'  did, in fact, as I have often said publicly, originate with the laity. Having once used Confession, in consequence of something which was a burden on the conscience, and derived benefit from it, they continued to apply to be again received to Con–fession. And so they continued on and on, until it became habitual. Even Bishop Phillpotts, who was averse to habitual Confession, said, in his letter to the Dean of Exeter,  'I do not think that the clergy can refuse the habitual application to them to receive Confession'  (p. 24).

But your Grace may mean much more, and, without explanation, I should fear that people in general would suppose that your Grace, and the Conference in adopting your Grace' s formula, meant much more; that we who receive habitual Confessions are doing what would be called an  'unauthorized'  act--an expression which would always be used in blame.

In regard to the other expression,  'encourage,'  I should think that any clergyman who does not  'discourage,'  but receives Confessions habitually, does, in fact,  'encourage'  them. We are (the Ordination Service says)  'called to teach and to premonish, to feed and to provide for the Lord' s family.'  Those who come to us must look up to us; if then we receive their Confessions habitually, we do ipso facto  'encourage habitual Confession.'

Your Grace will not think it a captious question, that I ask what your Grace disowns under the word  'habitual Confession.'  Some might use Confession once a fortnight; some once in a year. If repeated year by year, Confessions made once in the year would come to be habitual.

These questions have been forced upon me by the adoption of your Grace' s Resolution by the Lambeth Conference. I do not remember how far the terms of that Resolution coincide with that of the Upper House of Convocation some years ago; but since that Resolution was not adopted by the Lower House, it was only an inchoate measure, not a Canon of a Synod of Bishops.

I do not know what the authority claimed for this Resolution is; whether it is an opinion accepted by the hundred Bishops who met at the Conference, or whether it is a judgment which is meant to have a binding force upon us the inferior Clergy.

With all respect to your Grace, I do not think that the Bishops of the United States or of Ireland had any office to pass an opinion about our Way of hearing Confessions. For the first Bishops f the United'  States consented under pressure to have their Prayer-book altered in this respect, as did the Irish Bishops in their recent revision of the Prayer-book. They are, then, no judges as to our practice who retain the former Prayer-book.

But it is a grave matter that your Grace has obtained the concurrence of about a hundred Bishops in an apparent condemnation of the practice of thousands or tens of thousands,--which I myself have continued for some forty years, in the belief that I was, in so doing, acting according to the mind of the Church of England.

The Church of England has certainly not given to the Bishops of the United States or of the Colonies any authority over us, the second Order in England. And yet the right of censure is a very grave power; and I trouble your Grace with this letter, that I may know what my position is, whether I am one with a brand-mark placed on me by a hundred Bishops, as contravening the mind of the Church of England.

It would, I am sure, be a great relief to thousands if your Grace would inform me that, under the words,  'encouraging habitual Confes–sion,'  your Grace did not mean to censure those Clergy who receive the habitual Confessions of those who wish to make Confession by virtue of the invitation,  'let him come to me or some other and open his grief,'  but only to say that the Church of England does not give any direct sanction to it, but left it to the discretion of priests and people, leaving them liberty of conscience.

The Archbishop replied:--



Lambeth Palace, S.E., August 3, 1878.

I have your letter of yesterday' s date this morning.

The statement respecting Confession was prepared by a large and influential Committee consisting of ten members, of whom nine attended. It was presented by me to the assembled Bishops, and after discussion was taken back to the Committee and materially altered. It was afterwards very fully discussed in the Conference itself as revised, and before it was finally adopted by the Conference especial attention was called to the words  'authorized'  and  'encourage.'  I have of course no authority to explain the words which received the sanction of the assembled Bishops.

All I can say in answer to your letter is that the words used, which have been very carefully prepared, must be taken to mean neither more nor less than they express, and that the degree of weight to be attached to them must be judged of by Churchmen according to their conscientious convictions.

If I can be of any use to you, pray employ my services.

Many anxious minds, however, on both sides assumed that authority which the Archbishop disclaimed, and held that the words condemned what Pusey and others had been for a long time  'encouraging.'  As Pusey said of it himself,  'To act against the apparent mind of a hundred Bishops is a hard thing. I know they think me loyal at heart; but to take the literal meaning of the words, I have for some forty years been teaching people to do unauthorized acts. Such an act as theirs would have driven dear J. H. N. out of the Church of England, if he had not been driven out before.'  On the other hand, Bishop Alford had quoted the Resolution of the Conference as prohibiting Confession altogether. This gave Pusey the opportunity of publishing a Letter to the Archbishop in September, 1878, which he entitled,  'Habitual Confession not discouraged by the Reso–lution accepted by the Lambeth Conference.'  He stated that he had received Confessions habitually from some people for thirty-five years, and desired to know whether he was to consider himself censured by the Resolution, as Bishop Alford supposed. He could not believe that he was censured: he avowed he was puzzled by the words, but was satisfied that, notwithstanding the ambiguity and apparent self-contradiction of the Resolution, he and all others who acted with him did not lie under this censure. Incidentally he made a strong protest against any interference in the disciplinary order of the Church of England by the Bishops of the United States and of Ireland. On this question they were especially bad judges. In the one Church all allusion to private Confession and Absolution had been removed from the prayer-book: and in the other, the English form of the Absolution in the Order for the Visitation of the Sick had been extruded. He concluded his letter in the following words:--

 'Nothing will satisfy the Puritan mind except our extirpation; but as Confession began in the renewed earnestness worked by God the Holy Ghost in this century, so it will grow with the growth of that earnestness. It may be directed, but it cannot be extinguished.'

Pusey had no word of reply from any of the Bishops of English sees. As he said,--

 'Our Bishops seem paralyzed by our presbyterianizing Arch–bishop of Canterbury. Not one breath to soften the Declaration of those hundred Bishops at Lambeth. However, no one has excepted against my minimizing of their words, and for this I am thankful, . . I have good hope that I hindered some tender souls from leaving our Communion out of which Archbishop Tait would have driven them.'

Voluntary habitual Confession had already by this time taken deep root as part of the authorized system of the Church of England. Most of the objections against it were based on the supposition that it was compulsory and not voluntary. It would be useless to deny that some clergy may have endeavoured to make this system compulsory; but the leaders of the High Church party never did so. The uniformity of their teaching on this and on other important questions is shown by the answers independently given to a correspondent, who addressed the following ques–tions to Pusey, Liddon, and Canon Carter of Clewer: (1) Whether a clergyman of the Church of England had a right to require Confession before Communion? (2) Whether it was wrong for members of the English Church to attend Roman Catholic services in England?

The answers were as follow:--


[Ascot], August 19, 1878.

An English clergyman would do very unjustifiably if he ventured to  'tell communicants that he would rather they (the communicants) did not go to Communion unless they had first been to private Confession.'  I hope that such a case (which I fear from your letter must have happened) is very insulated. Such things make it impossible to defend the new school as a body. It is beyond Roman doctrine. For even the Romans do not confess of necessity before each Com–munion. There are hundreds of thousands of pious English commu–nicants who never felt any occasion for Confession. And God only can tell who are nearest to Him, those who use it or those who do not. I cannot conceive how any English clergyman can say such things.

It is quite wrong for a member of the Church of England to worship in Roman Churches in England.


3, Amen Court, E.C., Aug. 19 [1878].

The Church of England offers the relief of Confession before Communion to those whose consciences tell them that they need it. She gives no authority to her clergy for insisting on Confession, as a necessity before Communion. If a clergyman expresses a wish that people would use Confession, it does not necessarily follow, I suppose, that he says that they must use it. Everything indeed turns upon the exact language which is employed: but the line between the offer of Confession, if felt to be needed, and the compulsory enforcement of it, is plain enough. The latter is the system of the Roman Church; but a clergyman may say that he thinks confession a good thing before Communion without saying that it is a sine qua non. It is, as I have said, a question of the terms employed.

Certainly I do think it schismatical to join in Roman Catholic worship in England. It is impossible to do so without denying by implication that the English Bishops have a true jurisdiction from Christ our Lord, since the existence of R. C. worship is a contraven–tion of that claim.


Rothesay, N. B., Aug. 20 [1878].

Your letter has followed me to Scotland which has caused some delay in replying. I willingly say what my own opinion on the points that you mention, is.

Let me first observe that the point about Confession is not quite clear to me. You ask whether a priest of the Church of England can rightly tell a communicant  'he would rather he did not go to Communion if he did not go to private Confession previously.'  It is not clear whether you speak of a particular case, or generally.

Supposing a communicant to be under some priest' s guidance, and the priest knew the communicant to have committed some grievous sin, the priest might very properly advise the person in question to seek Absolution before Communion, and even press the person to do so.

But if you speak generally, as I suppose you do, and if you mean whether a priest of the Church of England can rightly require persons to go to Confession before Communion, it is clear that he cannot rightly do so. It would, I answer, be contrary to Church of England rule, to put on any one such a pressure that he could not without disobeying the priest communicate without Confession, when he was not himself desirous of it. Confession is with us dependent on the free will of every one, however much it may be advised, and in some cases pressed.

With regard to English Church people attending Roman services in England, I feel strongly that it is wrong to do so. I suppose you to mean worshipping at their Services. It is not I think too strong a term to use, to say that to do so in England is schismatical.

Copies of Gaume' s Manual were sent to all the Bishops who attended the Lambeth Conference; some of the letters of acknowledgment expressed a hope that on some future occasion leisure would be found for a study of its contents, while others entered at some length upon the practical question at issue.

In November, 1878, a lecturer at Oxford, on behalf of the Church Association, brought various charges against Pusey, based upon this book: the only interest in his oratory comes from a correspondence that ensued between Liddom and the Rev. A. M. W. Christopher, the Rector of St. Aldate' s, Oxford, who had presided on that occasion. In reply to a letter expressing surprise that Mr. Christopher should have lent his name to such a meeting, and suggesting that prosecution in a court of law, for which Pusey had so often asked in vain, would be a preferable course, Mr. Christopher wrote as follows:--


St. Aldate' s Rectory, Oxford, Dec. 7, 1878.

More than twenty years ago, before the formation of the Church Association, a small committee of theologians and lawyers met in London to consider the duty of prosecuting Dr. Pusey in the Ecclesiastical Courts. It seemed to them that from him, as the directing mind, the stream of doctrinal error, which has since risen to such a height, was invading the Church. Every one of his theological writings was carefully perused and considered, and a case was eventually laid before very eminent ecclesiastical counsel. The then movers were distinctly advised that though much written by Dr. Pusey was so repugnant to the formularies of the Church of England as to ensure judicial condemnation, yet his peculiar position rendered him unassailable by any process of law. His Canonry is only an incident of his Professorship which he holds under Letters Patent. The fore–going I have received from one of the lawyers concerned, but it is pretty widely known, and long has been so.

The legal advisers of the Church Association and its committee are conversant with these facts.

Liddon communicated this unexpected information at once to Pusey.


Christ Church, Oxford, Dec. 12, 1878.

I was as much surprised as you are, that any one can think, that I should not be amenable to a Court for any false doctrine (if un–happily I had fallen into it) because my Canonry is united, by Act of Parliament, to my Professorship. I certainly for many years acted repeatedly on the contrary conviction. I sought prosecution. Indeed I thought the Church Association guilty of great injustice to me in Prosecuting Mr. Bennett, and not joining me in the prosecution (as I requested it to do), or not prosecuting me directly, Since two of the counts against Mr. Bennett were that he quoted with approbation what I had written, and I was (as Mr. Christopher calls me) the chief offender. For if, in consequence of Mr. Bennett' s not defending him–self, the case had gone against him (which I held to be impossible, if it were defended) then I should have been, virtually, condemned without a hearing. I forget to whom I wrote, whether it was the Secretary; but I did write, requesting whoever was the real prosecutor of Mr. Bennett to include me in the prosecution. I told them that they were afraid to do so, because they knew that I should defend myself. They declined; but neither then, nor on any other occasion when I invited prosecution, was any hint given me, that those who declined did so because they held my position to be  'legally unassail–able.'  I certainly should not have thought that any Englishman could commit any wrong, and be legally irresponsible. Our proverb,  'The king can do no wrong,'  implies the contrary. It implies certainly that the Sovereign is the only person irresponsible to man. But it is also held that his constitutional advisers are responsible; so that even for his acts, if wrong, some one may be prosecuted.

If the Church Association should wish to challenge the lawfulness of any of my writings, I should raise no technical objections to its doing so, as I have indeed said, whenever I have invited prosecution. As far as I am concerned, they should have no difficulty, except that of making out their case.

Pray show this to Mr. Christopher and ask him to show it to his friends.

I am sorry that he thinks as he does, as I have always thought him an earnest and loving man; and I have ever supposed that I held as matter of faith all which he holds as such; only I have been taught more.

Mr. Christopher forwarded this letter to the Church Association; it was kept for six weeks, and then returned without comment. But the suggestion that Pusey took advantage of a position that he knew was technically safe, and challenged a prosecution that he knew was impossible, was again made by the Secretary of the Church Association shortly before the end of Pusey' s life. Pusey repudiated the suggestion in the following letter to the Times:--


Christ Church, Jan. 24, 1881.

I did not expect that my simple statement addressed to yourself would bring you a small snow-shower of letters, but there is only one statement to which I need ask you to do me the favour to admit any ,reply of mine. It is an official statement by the Secretary of the Church Association :-- 'Dr. Pusey is well aware of the valid reasons for which his writings have not yet been submitted to a judicial consideration'  I am not in the least aware of them. It may be that he gave me reasons which I did not think  'valid'  and so forgot them. I thought myself hardly used in the prosecution of Mr. Bennett, in that the first two charges against him were his expression of agreement with doctrinal statements of mine. As Mr. Bennett did not think well to defend himself,'  I was left to take my chance in an undefended suit.

I endeavoured to goad the Association in some way to substitute me for Mr. Bennett, or, anyhow, to sue me, in a letter which I published. In this letter, published, I believe, in the Guardian on July 20, 1868, I said:--

 'I would renew to you that same invitation which I have given at different times to others who have impugned my good faith at public meetings, or have otherwise uttered calumnies against me. You accuse me of teaching doctrine contrary to that of the English Church. Substantiate your charge, if you can, in any Court. If you do, I will resign the office which I hold by virtue of my subscription. I will oppose no legal hindrances, but will meet you on the merits of the case.'

To this I had the answer, dated July 30:--

 'The council cannot entertain the idea of advising Mr. Sheppard to discontinue the action against Mr. Bennett; but if in the progress of the case it should appear necessary to take proceedings in order to vindicate the Church of England from the false dogmas of the Church of Rome, they will hold you to the offer made in your letter.'

I answered, in a letter which was also published:--

 'I deeply regret your wasting against us--who, in all which you hold of faith (i. e. as many of you as are not Lutherans or Calvinists), are at one with you (for denials of faith are not faith)--energies which had better have been directed to gain those who deny the Saviour Whom we both adore. But since you will have it so, I shall not need to be held to the offer which I have made, but should at any time gladly defend against you Primitive and Catholic truths, which, if the Church of England denied, she would forfeit her claim to be a portion of the Church of Christ.'

I do not know that I had any answer to this letter, or any further information why they did not accept my challenge. Perhaps their failure in the undefended suit  'Sheppard v. Bennett'  deterred them.

So far as Mr. Christopher was concerned, the incident in 1878 was closed by his sending a very friendly note to Pusey on New Year' s Day, 1879, with a copy of Dr. Bonar' s  'God' s Way of Holiness' : Pusey replied in the same tone of personal respect, and asked his correspondent to accept a volume of Keble' s   'Lenten Sermons.'


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