Life of Edward Bouverie Pusey
by Henry Parry Liddon, D.D.
London: Longmans, 1894
Transcribed by The Revd R D Hacking
DR. FARRAR' S 'ETERNAL HOPE '--PHILIP PUSEY' S DEATH --REPLY TO DR. FARRAR.
IN November, 1864, Pusey had preached a sermon before the University in defence of the doctrine of Ever–lasting Punishment, which was impugned by the Judgment of the Privy Council in the 'Essays and Reviews' case. It was of course earnest and impressive, but expressed in carefully measured terms throughout; the argument was based on the nature of sin, of God' s judgments, and of the eternal world, as well as on the express words of our Lord; and it concluded with a wistful exhortation to each of his undergraduate hearers, 'My son … listen not 'to those who repeat to you the tempter' s words, " Thou shalt not die.”'
In 1877 the Rev. F. W. Farrar, Canon of Westminster, preached a course of Sermons, which he published under the title of 'Eternal Hope.' These Sermons contained a passionate attack upon 'the common belief in hell' ; and whatever were the intentions of the preacher or the exact force of his language, his words were commonly understood to include in one sweeping denunciation every form of belief in Everlasting Punishment. When a preacher of such high position in the Church, and great reputation for learning, and undoubted rhetorical ability, threw in his weight on this always popular side, it was no wonder that his words were caught up with ready acquiescence, and obtained a wide circulation.
Pusey felt himself called upon to write an answer to this teaching: not only because of the harm that he found was being done to souls on all sides, but also because of a special challenge to himself which was contained in them. In an excursus at the end of the volume which contained these sermons he was made to appear as a teacher of doctrine so awful that Dr. Farrar could say, 'I would here, and now, and kneeling on my knees, ask God that I might die as the beasts that perish, and for ever cease to be, rather than that my worst enemy should endure the hell described by…Dr. Pusey.. for one single year.'
In the winter of 1878 Pusey began to prepare his answer. 'I am shut up,' he wrote to Newman,' if one is to call it being shut up, to be enclosed in the magnificent walls in which I have lived nearly one-seventh of the time which has passed since Cardinal Wolsey built them. It is strange to be exempt from all the sufferings which this cold inflicts on the poor; my comfort is that I could not work for God otherwise.' Then he went on to ask Newman many ques–tions about the 'terrible subject,' as he calls it, apologizing for saddening Christmas by writing about it at all. Shortly afterwards also, writing to Dr. Bright, he alluded to Dr. Farrar' s book and its numerous inaccuracies of state–ment, saying that a 'solid answer' would be very valuable.
His letters give glimpses of his work on this subject from time to time. He devoted to it a large portion of the Long Vacation of t879 at Ascot. The Rev. J. Skinner, the chaplain of the Hospital, who was Pusey' s nearest neighbour there, wrote of him at this time:--
'August I, 1879.
… 'The dear doctor comes to me and I to him… He is all sweetness and love, and I never saw him more vigorous in mind, nor do I find him so deaf as last year. He is very keen just now on an answer he is preparing to Farrar… No one seems able to bold up against the atmospheric troubles, except the dearest old E. B. P., who is perfectly well and works all day.'
During this summer he spent a long time, so he tells Liddon, in the minute investigation of what Dr. Farrar called his 'palmary argument,' namely the assertion that the Jews of our Lord' s day did not use the word 'Gehenna' in the sense of everlasting punishment; and he came to the. conclusion that the argument from the Jewish writers at the commencement of the Christian era went entirely in the opposite direction to that which Dr. Farrar supposed. In such an inquiry Pusey was on ground peculiarly his own. One of the greatest living authorities on Rabbinical writing is reported to have said that the only two Christians of this century who thoroughly understood Rabbinical literature were Delitzsch and Pusey.
But the work was repeatedly delayed by weak health and heavy correspondence, or rather, as he described it, 'God sent him other things to do.' And there was yet another message on its way. On January 5, 1880, he returned to Christ Church from Ascot, and nine days later his only son was suddenly taken from him. For the last twenty-five years, since the marriage of his youngest daughter, Mrs. Brine, Pusey' s son, Philip, had been the only member of his family to share with him 'the large house, once so full' at Christ Church. His continued illnesses had brought the once healthy active child to a physical condition which was a perpetual trial of fortitude and patience: besides other infirmities, he was deaf and a cripple, and was thus excluded from a large portion of ordinary life. But he inherited from his father indomitable energy, deep religious earnestness and singleness of eye, and had learnt from him entire self-devotion to the cause of the Church. He took his degree in 1854, having obtained Second Class Mathematical Honours, both in Moderations and in the Class List of the Final School. To his great regret, his bodily infirmities compelled him to forego his life-long hope of being ordained; he therefore gave himself up to theological study, so that he might be of as much help as possible to his father. As was most truly said of him in a review of one of his books:--
'Piety, in the most comprehensive sense, was indeed the motive power of Philip Pusey' s life, and the source of all his strength, active and passive. In him the Fifth Commandment was linked most closely to the First. The profound adoring earnestness with which he would mentally follow the Cathedral services of which he could not distinctly hear a word, was of a piece with the beautiful devotedness which made him accept absolutely his father' s directions as to the line in which he was to work for Him, Whom, in the notes to his volume, he repeatedly calls " our Master' .
The special tasks that he undertook at his father' s suggestion, 'in his uniform filial love,' were a critical edition of what Pusey called 'that much undervalued critical authority, the Peshito,' and a carefully revised edition of the works of St. Cyril of Alexandria, with an English translation of them for the Oxford Library of the Fathers. In this work, with rare self-devotion and true scholarly thoroughness, he compelled his weak deformed body to labours which many an able-bodied student would have declined. In the hope of discovering and collating manu–scripts, he bad visited libraries in France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Russia, Mount Athos (of the nineteen monasteries on Mount Athos he visited all in which he had any reason to expect to find Greek manuscripts), Cairo, and Mount Sinai, and had thus formed the completest collection extant of the fragments of St. Cyril. These he had already published with expressions of heartfelt gratitude to God for His continued protection and preservation. At this time he considered that he had still fifteen years' work before him, if his life should be spared so long. But, to use his father' s words at the end of the preface to his translation of St. Cyril' s treatises on the Incarnation, 'Almighty God was pleased to break off the work " in the midst of the years.”' On the morning of Jan. 15, 1880, Liddon received the following note:--
E. B. P. TO REV. H. P. LIDDON, D.D.
Jan. 15, 1880.
Your loving heart will grieve that it has pleased God to take my son. Yesterday he was doing things as usual for me: went to the Bodleian to get a book for me. After a cheerful evening and being at family prayers, he went upstairs. A fit of apoplexy was God' s messenger; and about 3 he was on his way to the Judgment-seat of Christ. You will pray for him. I was there, but he could not hear a sound.
Under the shock of the loss and the exhaustion caused by the strain of watching at the side of the death-bed in the long hours of that night, Pusey' s feeble health entirely gave way, and for three days Dr. Acland thought that he would have been buried in the same grave with his son. On the next Sunday, in a sermon at Christ Church, Dean Liddell touchingly alluded to this heavy sorrow in the following words:--
'While I am writing this, tidings reach me of the sudden death of the only son of our oldest and most honoured Canon. Most of you must have seen that small emaciated form, swinging itself through the quadrangle, up the steps, or along the street, with such energy and activity as might surprise healthy men. But few of you could know what gentleness and what courage dwelt in that frail tenement.... In pursuing his studies, whenever it was necessary to consult manuscripts at a distance, he shrank from no journey, however toilsome. Every–where on those journeys he won hearts by his simple, engaging manner, combined with his helplessness and his bravery. He was known in Spain, and Turkey, and Russia: at Paris, or Madrid, or Moscow, the impression was the same. The first question put by the monks of Mount Athos to their next Oxford visitor, was significant, " And how is Philippos?” One might speak of the pleasant smile with which he greeted his friends, his brave cheerfulness under lifelong suffering, and what seemed in him an absolute incapacity of complaining--his delight in children, the sure sign of an innocent and happy temper--his awe and reverence for Almighty God, and constant desire to serve and, please Him. When it was brought home to him that his infirmities disabled him from taking Holy Orders, as he had desired to do, he only said, that his wish then was to do what he might be able for God' s service at any time and in any way. To such a one, death could . have no terror: death could not find him un–prepared. …I need, not say how many prayers have been and are breathed that God Almighty and our Lord Jesus Christ would comfort the bereaved and honoured father, who, just forty years ago, saw her who was truly the half of his being interred beneath the pavement of this church, and will now have to see his only son carried to the grave before him.... God will comfort him, we trust; God has comforted him, we know.'
The Funeral was on the 20th of January. Through the great kindness of the Dean of Christ Church, the body was laid in the small graveyard on the south side of the Cathedral; the Burial Service was said by Dr. King. It was nearly the end of the month before Pusey had sufficiently recovered to ask where the grave was and for some par–ticulars of the funeral. During these days Liddon was almost the only visitor. Pusey' s talk was at first entirely about Philip' s life of conformity to the Will of God and devoted work for the Church in the only way that lay open to him when Ordination was found to be impossible. As for his own illness, he expressed a hope that it was not caused by any want of conformity to God' s will in taking his son, but that it was only natural in such a case.
His strength very slowly came back, and he resumed his answer to Dr. Farrar as soon as possible. But the loss of Philip was indeed very great, although his grandson, the Rev. J. E. B. Brine, came to be his companion in his large empty house at Christ Church. 'I am returning,' he wrote to Mr. Wood, 'to my work again. Life is changed for the last time. I thank God that He has retained to me such a son for nearly fifty years.
At last, in June, eighteen months after he had commenced his work, he Was able to announce its completion.
E. B. P. TO REV. R. F. WILSON.
Christ Church, June 26, 1880.
... I have finished at last my little answer to Dr. Farrar' s challenge. It has been hard work and will be very dry. The old [original] plan was to make a Catena of Fathers and to put the proofs together that Origenism was condemned by the Fifth General Council. So it is an odd mish-mash. I have tried to answer Dr. Farrar sentence by sentence and hint by hint. I would not leave one out nor conceal it.... I hope that I have not made many slips. But after my illness, I had to work against time.
The reply is a book of nearly three hundred Pages, the last book of any size which came from his pen, and one of the most well-timed and powerful. It is characterized by the minute accuracy and richness of detail that mark all his work. There is no sign of failure of eye or diminution of spiritual force: rather it might be said that in grasp of the full meaning of the position, in cogency of argument and clearness of statement, it equals and perhaps surpasses anything he ever wrote.
The body of the book is the direct answer to Dr. Farrar. In it, he first sets forth the wide difference between what Dr. Farrar had called 'the common opinions respecting hell' and the belief of the Church on the subject. Ac–cording to Dr. Farrar, the 'common opinions' included the belief that 'the majority of mankind will incur ever–lasting punishment and are doomed to it by absolute predestination' ; this Pusey showed is the teaching of Calvin and unwarranted by Scripture. The assertion that the 'fire' of hell is 'material' fire is by no means an essential part of the Church' s interpretation of our Lord' s words, and to maintain that 'the vast mass of mankind die in a state of sin' implies that we know a great deal more about the secret things of God than is the case. In the following twelve propositions he sums up the 'arguments which to his mind showed that the Revelation of Ever–lasting Punishment is the correlative of the fact of human freewill:--
1. Without freewill, man would be inferior to the lower animals, which have a sort of limited freedom of choice.
2. Absolute freewill implies the power of choosing amiss and, having chosen amiss, to persevere in choosing amiss. It would be self-contradictory that Almighty God should create a free agent capable of loving Him, without being capable also of rejecting His love.
3. The higher and more complete and pervading the freewill is, the more completely an evil choice will pervade and disorder the whole being.
4. But without freewill we could not freely love God. Freedom is a condition of love.
5. In eternity those who behold Him will know what the bliss is, eternally to love Him. But then that bliss involves the intolerable misery of losing Him through our own evil choice. To lose God and be alienated from Him is in itself Hell, or the vestibule of Hell.
6. But that His creatures may not lose Him, God, when He created all His rational creatures with freewill, created them also in grace, so that they had the full power to choose aright, and could not choose amiss, except by resisting the drawing of God to love Him.
7. The only hindrance to man' s salvation is, in any case, the obstinate misuse of that freewill, with which God endowed him, in order that he might freely love Him.
8. God wills that all should be saved, if they will it, and to this end gave His Son to die for them, and the Holy Ghost to teach them.
9. The merits of Jesus reach to every soul who wills to be saved, whether in this life they knew Him or knew Him not.
10. God the Holy Ghost visits every soul which God has created, and each soul will be judged as it responded or did not respond to the degree of light which He bestowed on it, not by our maxims, but by the wisdom and love of Almighty God.
11. We know absolutely nothing of the proportion of the saved to the lost, or who will be lost; but this we do know, that none will be lost, who do not obstinately to the end and in the end refuse God. None will be lost, whom God can save, without destroying in them His own gift of freewill.
12. With regard to the nature of the sufferings, nothing is matter of faith. No one doubts that the very special suffering will be the loss of God (poena damni): that, being what they are, they know that they were made by God for Himself, and yet, through their own obstinate will, will riot have Him. As to 'pains of sense' the Church has nowhere laid down as a matter of faith, the material character of the worm and the fire, or that they denote more than the gnawing of remorse. Although then it would be very rash to lay down dogmatically, that the 'fire' is not to be understood literally, as it has been understood almost universally by Christians; yet no one has a right to urge those representations, from which the imagination so shrinks, as a ground for refusing to believe in Hell, since he is left free not to believe them.'
Passing to the discussion of the word aionios, and of the Jewish belief in Gehenna, on which great stress had been laid, he maintains by means of lengthy quotations that there is no trace of any doubt among the Jews of our Lord' s day that punishment would be eternal for those who incurred it, that is, for those 'who to the end would not have God as their God.' The main argument concludes with some striking thoughts about the state of the departed which seem to have been suggested by the recent passing away of so many of his friends. The discussion of the doc–trine of Eternal Punishment seemed to him likely to bring out into far greater prominence the value of a right belief in the intermediate state, the comfort of believing in some purifying process after death, the happiness of that oppor–tunity of preparing for the final Beatific Vision, and the value of prayer for the departed. In the following passage he briefly states his own 'hope' as regards the eternal world, for himself and for those whom he loved:--
'Our own consciences may tell us that, our repentance for our sins having been very imperfect, and our own longings for the sight of God, amid this whirl of duties and religious interests, such as we do not like to think of, we are not fit to behold Him. This, perhaps, more than the direct dread of hell, is the source of the fear of death to many. They trust in God' s mercy in Christ, that they shall be saved; but they feel themselves unfit to enter into His Presence. To be admitted into any vestibule of His Presence,--where they can sin no more, and, by longing for that Beatific Vision, may be ever freed from the slough which has clung to them in this life--this is not too high for their hopes; the thought of this unspeakably allays their fears.
'So, as to others also, instead of being haunted with the thought as to some one loved as one' s self, " Was he saved?” and longing that God would in some way reveal to us that he was saved, we may commend 'our departed ones to their Father' s care, sure that if they have not, by an obstinate rejection of Him to the last, shut out His grace and love, they are, in whatever mansion of His, still under the shadow of His Hand, longing for their consummation both of body and soul, and prepared and perfected the more by that intense longing.
The rest of the book is an Appendix containing the proofs that Universalism was condemned at the Fifth General Council, and that the early Church undoubtedly could not be claimed on the side of the novel negative teaching.
Pusey felt more misgivings as to the effects of this book than of any other that he ever wrote: but he was relieved by numerous letters expressing the warmest gratitude. The correspondence showed how great the anxiety of Church–men was, and how necessary it was to expose the crude assumptions and the current misrepresentations of the Church' s teaching, which had combined to recommend Universalism to so many minds. The book is marked by simple loyalty to Revelation, and anxious longing to save souls, and the earnest refusal of false teaching and all that could endanger souls; but it exhibits, more than any writing of his early years, the true character of an apologetic work. Its pages show that he is able to combine a very clear knowledge of the sin of man and of the love of God with the most vivid realization of the awfulness of the Judg–ment-seat of Christ; and that he can state truths which rouse the very deepest feelings with fearless sincerity, and yet with a recollectedness and self-restraint which measures every word.
As soon as the book appeared, Dr. Farrar wrote to the Guardian expressing his agreement with its conclusions on almost every point.
E. B. P. TO THE REV. F. W. FARRAR.
South Hermitage, Ascot Priory, Bracknell, July 30, 1880.
I beg to thank you for the courtesy and kindness with which you have spoken of me in your letter to the Guardian, so far beyond what I deserve.
On two points you have thought that I was expressing my own personal belief when I did not mean to say anything of it. My object was to remove hindrances to the belief in God' s awful judgments. I had no occasion to speak of myself. But as you have spoken of my faith, let me say--
1. I was glad to be able to urge, after Divines of undisputed authority, that the belief that there, are 'pains of sense' in Hell is not essential to the belief in Hell itself, so that those, who have a strong feeling against the belief in them, need not, on that account, disbelieve Hell itself. There was no occasion to say, that I do myself believe that there will be 'pains of sense,' although unutterably less than the 'pain of the loss' of God. So I said nothing about myself: but it seems to me to have been the Christian belief from the first, and so I believe it.
2. I do strongly hope that the great mass of mankind will be saved, all whom God could save without destroying their free-agency. He does not draw us like stocks and stones, but as beings whom He has endowed with the power freely to love Him. But since God has only spoken of His Will to save us, and has not said whether mankind will accept that Will for them I could have no belief on the subject. I left it blindly in the Hands of God (p. 281).
If I had had time, I would have rewritten my book, and would have said, 'You seem to me to deny nothing which I believe. You do not deny the eternal punishment of " souls obstinately hard and finally impenitent.” I believe the eternal punishment of no other. Who they are, God alone knows.' I should have been glad to begin with what we believe in common, and so to say, There is no need then to theorize about a new trial.
But I heard, on different sides, that the absence of any answer to your book was perplexing people' s minds or destroying their belief in Hell. The answer to what you called your 'palmary argument' about the belief of the Jews in our Lord' s time belonged to my office as Hebrew Professor. Very much time had been lost through my different illnesses. So I dared not delay any longer, and was obliged to leave my book in a shape which I regretted, as a personal answer to yourself instead of simply removing the objections against belief, which the Church (I wished to show) inherited from our Lord.
Dr. Farrar replied, expressing his agreement with Pusey excepting only on one point:--
REV. F. W. FARRAR TO E. B. P.
July 31, 1880.
I am much obliged to you for your kind letter. My own letter to the Guardian was only the sincere expression of my respect and esteem, and also of the deep gratitude with which I find that my views are not so widely opposed to those of Churchmen like yourself, as some have angrily asserted. Your twelve theses I accept unre–servedly. My main divergence from the view commonly supposed to be the sole orthodox one, lies in this point--that whereas you and. others hold that God may reach many souls, as He reached the soul of the penitent malefactor, in the hour of death, I have rather believed that the moment of death was not necessarily, and for all, the final irreversible moment of determination respecting the endless years beyond. I do not think that I have ever dwelt on the conception of a new 'probation' ; and I am perfectly willing to substitute for it the conception of a future 'purification' for those who have not utterly extinguished the Grace of God in their hearts, if that be the more Catholic view.
Of course there are points of criticism, detail, and exegesis on which I must examine with some care the powerful argument-s which you have brought forward, especially as to the view of 'Gehenna' in our Lord' s day. Whether I shall have leisure for this, I do not know; for it has pleased God to give me a life burdened with so many daily cares and occupations that I have never had any leisure for the thoroughness of exhaustive research at which, by His aid, I should otherwise aim. But meanwhile I am very sure that your statement of what is NOT de fide on this solemn and awful subject, will bring comfort to thousands who have been taught from childhood that they are bound to believe a far more merciless set of opinions than those which you maintain are solely essential to Christian faith on this subject.
With a view to Dr. Farrar' s reply, Pusey thought it good to direct his attention to the main errors of his book.
E. B. P. TO THE REV. F. W. FARRAR.
South Hermitage, Ascot Priory, Bracknell, Aug. 3 .
It is a great relief to me that you can substitute the conception of a future purification for those who have not utterly extinguished the grace of God in their hearts. This, I think, would put you in harmony with the whole of Christendom.
Forgive me, but I think that in your eagerness to overthrow the narrow (I suppose, Calvinistic) opinions in which you were educated, you took up the arguments which came to hand without weighing them. I wish that you had not written in such haste. Apart from the question of R. Akiba' s Jewish Gehenna having been subsequent to the time of our Lord, you did not observe that a Gehenna of at most twelve months is entirely at variance with any meaning which could be attached to the word a6ovios, and which you yourself attach to it. Then, also, I think, that you did not observe that the passages of Holy Scripture, which you alleged were all Universalist, included Satan, whose case you wished to leave on one side, or were nothing. Indeed, the aeonian fire, if a purifying fire, would, according to our Blessed Lord' s words (St. Matt. xxv. 41), have been expressly created for Satan and his angels to save them. I think too that you have fixed your eyes exclusively on the one side of the question, the exceptions which you thought could be found, and did not take time to think, on Whose word the awful doctrine, as believed by the incomparably larger body of Christians, rested. We have got so into the habit of bandying about arguments as to the meaning of the word aiovios, that we lose sight, for the time, Whose word it is. If our Lord had been a mere human teacher, it would have been a great mistake to use a word which His disciples would for the most part take, if so be, in a wrong sense. A Socinian would find no difficulty in this: but for us who believe our Lord to have been God, it would be inconceivable. I neglected this argument in my book. As you have borne so kindly with all which I had said before, I venture to send you the pages of the second edition in which I have urged this (pp. 46, 48).
I did not send you the book in the first instance, because I thought it would be provocative. I published it, thinking it a dry book, to do whatever God might employ it for.
Newman acknowledged a copy of the book in the following letter.
CARDINAL NEWMAN TO B. B. P.
The Oratory, Aug. 4, 1880.
I have been writing to you every day to thank you for your volume. It is, as all you do, thorough in its research, and sure to be useful to docile and humble minds, and those, I trust, are many. Your argu–ments, as addressed to them, are strong. For these I conceive the book is adapted and intended.
There are intellectual men, thoughtful, earnest, self-relying, for whom I conceive it is not intended. 'Nothing can make me believe it--it is against my nature. What is a score of Fathers to me? What is a dozen generations? I rather believe St. Matthew wrong than such a doctrine true.'
Thank you for making use of me once and again. I wish one could do something to make the doctrine less terrible to so many minds; but its being terrible is its very profit.
In spite of many reassuring answers Pusey was still afraid that he might be misunderstood, and that some readers might interpret his language about Purification so as to justify moral indifference, or diminish the fear of the Hell of the lost. He expresses these fears to the Warden of Keble College.
E. B. P. TO THE WARDEN OF KEBLE COLLEGE.
South hermitage, Ascot, August 12, 1880.
I must correct in some note to the third edition of my book (which I am expecting) two statements of Dr. Farrar: 1. that I believe that the worm and the fire are figurative. I myself believe the fire is poena sensus (the belief is so uniform, from St. Polycarp downwards). I only say that those who do not, need not think that on that account they disbelieve hell, since they are not bund to believe it.
2. I say nothing about the proportion of the saved and the lost, except that we know nothing about it.
I enclose a sheet of the second edition, which I hope will have more effect than all besides. Some will say, 'I' d rather think St. Matthew wrong than believe such a doctrine,' who would yet shrink from reject–ing the doctrine, if they saw that that rejection involved that our Blessed Lord did not foresee the effect of His own words.
I suppose that this generation has been wiser than Almighty God, that whereas He used those two most powerful motives, love and fear--fear to drive us back to His love--we have thought that we could do His work with one only.
I was so busy in answering Dr. Farrar' s book, step by step, that I myself omitted to ask, 'What do those who disbelieve Eternal Punishment think that God became Man for?' Eternal Punishment and the Incarnation cast light upon each other. God did not, we must think, become Man to remedy a passing evil.
Our Lord says, 'In My Father' s house there are many mansions.' As Cardinal Newman said, 'There are (almost) infinite degrees of holiness and nearness to God.' Only not infinite because number (and so the numbers of our race) is finite. Whatever mansion the Aztecs may be placed in, or those who never heard of the love of Jesus, it does not follow that they will be placed in the same mansion as the Seraphim, or those who have most grown in that love. But those who have 'resisted law or power or a high ideal' resist also the workings of God the Holy Ghost, and would probably resist His working by an appeal through His love. How for centuries was the Cross the special scandal of the heathen! 'Him, you mean, who was crucified?' was their taunt. The Jews still have a special hatred of the Cross.
Must we not suppose that very many who disbelieved Noah' s preaching, and so went on marrying and giving in marriage till the Flood came, may still have repented, so as to escape the eternal punishment, though too late to escape the temporal? These (I have supposed) were they who were kept in ward for those millennia until our Lord went to announce to them their deliverance.
I think that it is generally supposed that Sodom in Ezekiel is a symbolic name, though it is not agreed for what, but that it relates to some future conversion on this earth.
It seems a very prosaic explanation of our Lord' s words, 'it would have remained unto this day,' of a partial conversion of these cities. Yet they seem to me to refer back to God' s saying to Abraham, that He would spare it, if even ten righteous should be found in it. It would have remained; for that temporal judgment would not have fallen upon it.
The next year Dr. Farrar issued a reply entitled 'Mercy and Judgment.' Pusey did not think it good to write again: he did not desire a controversial victory: he had already stated the truth as he held it. As he often said, he greatly disliked arguments of the 'I said,' 'you said,' 'I meant,' 'you suggested' order. Statements of this kind had to do with personal matters, he thought, not with the assertion of the truth.
E. B. P. TO REV. H. P. LIDDON, D.D.
July 10, 1881.
I would not disturb your short holiday about Dr. Farrar. So I told him I should write for advice from one whose opinion I valued; that, at almost eighty-one, I must concentrate what I would do for God; that I had written what I wrote because, although he declared himself not to be an Universalist, his arguments, I thought, were, and were used as an encouragement in sinful living, but that there was no good in a see-saw, and that I should not read his book unless advised. I said, too, that I had been advised to leave Mr. Oxenham' s book alone, and meant to leave it...As Dr. Farrar claimed to believe what I believe, I just began looking at his summary, but I did not see anything more definite than before, so I left it.
The reply to Dr. Farrar was Pusey' s last great public contribution to the defence of the Faith. The battle with unbelief in Oxford and elsewhere was frequently the subject of his later letters and of his private conversations. Two such letters to one of his oldest surviving friends in the University are here given, as representing his way of regarding the struggle in his latest days.
E. B. P. TO PROFESSOR (Now SIR H. W.) ACLAND.
As for this place I trust that things are at their worst now. I have given up struggles which I once made; the battle as to all outward things is lost. Well, then we are in the state of which Zechariah was told 'Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls, for I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about her, and the glory in the midst of her.'
There never was so much unbelief as now. I dread the com–promisers much more than the antagonists. But there is also a rising set of men who have hearts on fire, and will do much, please God. So I leave people to go their own way, and if quote the words
'I do the little I can do
And leave the rest to Thee.'
So I am in good heart and we may the more work God' s Will,-- the more because we cannot work our own.
Your last words to-day Were that there were 'very great difficulties.' I see but one, insoluble in this life, 'Why did God create us?' Why did God will to create beings with free wills to accept or reject Him? All the evils and difficulties around one, in time and in eternity, are from man' s free agency. I can only look on the bright side of the question--How God must love us and our free love that He should create us for His love, notwithstanding all the miserable consequences of rejecting Him.
As for doctrines about which people tormented themselves last century,--as the Being of God; Three Persons in One God,--they, to me, remove difficulties. To me the abstract Deity of the Deists or Theists, existing isolated, in a dreary solitude, would be absolutely unintelligible. We cannot of course understand Three in One. But we can understand Eternal Infinite Love, which God the Father is, loving eternally the Co-eternal Son, Who is Love Infinite, in the Holy Ghost, Each inexisting in Each. We cannot understand here why God endowed us with a free will like His own; that He has made us free, as He is free; that He will not force our will which is the finite image of His own; that He, so to say, respects it, even while, through sorrow or through joy, or through the aching of the heart, He teaches us that He made our soul for Himself, and that nothing but Himself can content it.
This is a wonderful picture. The soul in its unfettered free will (not a stick or stone, to be dragged) whom God, in each man, woman, child, cares for, loves, and would draw to Himself, even if in this life it knows Him not, yet feels after Him.
O then, Sursum corda, Sursum corda.
Lift your faces to the skies
God Himself shall be your prize.
The source of all the unbelief, misbelief, and half-belief around us is that the minds have not brought to themselves this conception. All [difficulties] disappear when one believes God and Jesus, and minds believe in Jesus as they know Him.