Life of Edward Bouverie Pusey
by Henry Parry Liddon, D.D.
London: Longmans, 1894
Transcribed by The Revd R D Hacking
'ESSAYS AND REVIEWS' : THEOLOGICAL REPLIES--LEC–TURES ON DANIEL--UNIVERSITY SERMONS--PAPER AT NORWICH CHURCH CONGRESS -- THE FINAL
COURT OF APPEAL -- CASE AS TO THE LEGAL FORCE OF THE JUDGMENT.
A WIDELY-SIGNED Declaration of faith from the clergy and a Synodical condemnation of' Essays and Reviews' by the Convocation of Canterbury seemed at the moment to be the only possible course in order to allay the popular anxiety. Although Newman and Pusey had long anticipated the opening of these questions, ordinary Churchmen were filled with painful surprise at such 'free-handling' of the truths of Scripture by clergymen. They did not understand such an academical treatment of - religious truths, and they looked with justifiable alarm at the statements and tone of the Essays: not unnaturally they needed to be assured that the clergy as a body also repudiated them. Whatever opinion may be held as to the wisdom of the proceedings which have just been described, it is easy to understand how imperatively some immediate action was demanded so as to calm the widespread excitement of simple minds.
At the same time it was equally obvious how inadequate any such action would be as a controversial reply to the many difficulties which this volume presented for the first time to the minds of religious readers in England. The belief of the Church in the truths which God has revealed to us is independent of any discoveries which criticism may make with regard to the Bible; but attacks upon that belief, which are made in the name of scientific Biblical criticism, cannot be finally disposed of by the voice of the Church in Declarations and Synodical condemnations. They demand the patient investigation and careful study of years. Not unfrequently it is found that a startling statement, which at first sight was supposed to be hostile to the faith, contained an element of truth which only needed to be disentangled from the falsehood, or exaggeration, or misrepresentation with which its original statement was encumbered; when sifted and brought into its right relations with the rest of the truth about Holy Scripture, it finds its home in the general body of the Church' s thought.
Few people in 1861 had any idea of the many years of steady work which a belief in these-principles would entail on the students of theology. This is true both of many of the Essayists and also of many of those who attempted to answer them. As was wisely said at the moment:--
'Several of the writers have not got their thoughts and theories into such order and consistency as to warrant their coming before the world with such revolutionary views. But there has been a great deal of unwise passion, and unjust and hasty abuse; and people who have not an inkling of the difficulties which beset the questions, are for settling them in a summary way, which is perilous for every one. However, I hope the time of protest and condemnation is now passing away, and the time of examination and discussion in a quieter tone beginning' .
In this examination Pusey felt called upon to take his share. His position as Regius Professor of Hebrew seemed to prescribe the defence of some parts of the Old Testament as his special contribution, and this he at once commenced with characteristic thoroughness. Early in 1862 he began to prepare his Lectures on the Book of Daniel, and in the Easter Term of that year he had delivered four of them. The rest were delivered at intervals as they were ready: they were finished in November, 1863, and published in the following autumn.
He selected the Book of Daniel because Dr. Williams had asserted that recent criticism had proved that the book was written at a very late date; and Pusey was convinced that if he could show this assertion to be untrue, it would shake the confidence of the younger students of theology in other supposed critical triumphs. But another and far deeper question lay immediately behind the question of date:--
'I selected the book of Daniel because unbelieving critics considered their attacks upon it to be one of their greatest triumphs. The exposure of the weakness of some ill-alleged point of evidence has often thrown suspicion on a whole faith. The exposure of the weak–ness of criticism, where it thought itself most triumphant, would, I hoped, shake the confidence of the young in their would-be misleaders. True! Disbelief of Daniel had become an axiom in the Unbelieving critical school. Only they mistook the result of unbelief for the victory of criticism. They overlooked the historical fact that the disbelief had been antecedent to the criticism. Disbelief had been the parent, not the offspring, of their criticism, their starting-point, not the winning-post of their course.'
These Lectures therefore contained no dispassionate academical discussion of the date, authenticity, and author–ship of the Book of Daniel. They materially differed from such an 'introduction' as an ordinary expositor would now prefix to a commentary on a portion of the Bible. 'Essays and Reviews' and the serious harm that was resulting from such methods of handling the Old Testament, and especially from the hints thrown out which tended to disparage the value of prophecy, are throughout present to his mind. The whole discussion is focussed upon the question of the defi–nitely predictive character of the book. Arguments are care–fully marshalled to show that it must indisputably contain predictions, because trustworthy scientific criticism cannot assign any date to it so late as the events which the writer treats as being still in the future. He refused to regard the minuteness of some of the predictions as giving the slightest warrant for a suspicion of their authenticity; he pointed out that this feature rendered them all the more in harmony with the rest of Scripture. With elaborate care he argued, from a comparison of all available materials, that not only the character of the Hebrew of the book exactly suited the traditional date of composition, but that the form of the Chaldee, in which language six of its chapters are written, excluded any later period from consideration. He maintained that the minute, fearless touches, involving details of customs, state-institutions, and history, belong to one who must have lived in the period which he described; and that the passages which appeared to present historical difficulties are really, when considered in the light of full knowledge, indications of an accurate and familiar acquaint–ance with all details which could belong only to a contem–porary, as Professor Ramsay has triumphantly shown in the case of the writer of the Acts of the Apostles. Further, he maintained that the theology of Daniel was exactly what would be expected from a Jew living during the Babylonian captivity.
Throughout the book the reader is presented with a most remarkable collection of varied knowledge; handled with great skill. Pusey indeed was determined to make the defence as thorough as possible. He resented most deeply the manner in which some English writers had transcribed from foreign critics arguments against the ordinary view of the Bible, not only without showing any independence of thought, but sometimes even betraying their failure to understand the argument that they reproduced.
If his opponents could be satisfied to make use of such poor work as this, Pusey for his part, in writing his lectures, determined to give of his very best for the defence of his own belief. He read every work that had been written against the traditional account of the Book of Daniel, and spared no pains of research to discover facts which would throw light upon the difficulties which seemed to crave for solution. In this volume, as in the 'Commentary on the Minor Prophets,' he thus noted carefully every recent theory; and his scholarship throughout is marked with the usual characteristics of thoroughness and trustworthi–ness. At the time one or two writers ventured to impugn his knowledge of Hebrew; but some very pointed retorts to them in the postscript to the preface of the second edition showed clearly the side on which the ignorance lay. Pusey, in fact, is now allowed, by those whose extensive knowledge of Semitic literature renders them competent judges, to have been a sound and accurate Oriental scholar, and to have had an exact and idiomatic acquaintance with the usage of Hebrew words, even if they feel unable to accept his critical conclusions. These lectures on Daniel are acknowledged not only to be replete with learning, but also to sum up with masterly ability the conservative position with respect to this part of the Bible.
Exception has often been taken to the tone which he adopts towards the opposing position. It must, however, be remembered that his eye is not fixed upon individual ex–ponents of a school of criticism, but upon the form of thought out of which that school first sprang. He had ever before him those forms of German unbelief with which forty years earlier he had become painfully familiar at Gottingen, and from which these theories originally emanated; and he saw, behind the first English skirmish with these old German foes, the whole advancing host of Rationalism. Whether rightly or wrongly, he desired by strong language to awaken English readers to the vital questions involved in the controversy, as he understood it. Some of the Essayists, as clergymen, had gained a reputation for boldness by raising questions which, as a matter of fact, insinuated to many minds an unbelief which they did not openly state. Pusey could see no frankness or candour in such a proceeding, and he desired to tear aside the veil which bid from the public eye the source of their arguments and the issue to which he was convinced that they would ultimately lead, and to stamp it all as 'unbelief.' He did not mean that all who held this position were 'unbelievers' ; he allowed that many honestly thought it possible to com–bine such criticism with a firm hold of the Faith. But he wished to point out that in his opinion they were on an inclined plane, and must eventually either discard their criticism or surrender their belief.
It must frankly be admitted that since 1864 the tone of the best Higher Criticism has changed; as a rule, it is no longer characterized by reckless and unfounded assertions to the same extent as in those days. But Pusey dealt with an earlier and cruder form of it, in which his accurately trained mind could find no trace of scholarly research, and his deep reverence for God' s revelation heard no answering echo. And he spoke of it according to what he saw and heard. Undoubtedly we are now accustomed to listen to the confident hope which speaks of the time then the terms of reconciliation between the New Criticism and the Old Faith may be stated without compromise and without surrender. But thirty years ago, at any rate, there was good reason for the very gravest fears. In his anxious yearning over souls, Pusey could not allow himself to forget, even if others ignored, 'the absolute and entire loss of faith in all Revelation among many of the younger disciples of the new school. As one after another fell away, Pusey saw that there was 'death in the pot' that contained the wild gourds of the young prophets. Now the young prophets are engaged in casting in the meal; time will show whether they have succeeded in healing the pot. Adhuc sub judice lis est.
As Pusey brought his public Lectures on Daniel to a close, he endeavoured in other ways to influence the younger members of the University. With this view he commenced at his own house a series of informal meetings of undergradtmates and Bachelors of Arts to discuss difficulties. which had been raised about the Old Testament. At these levees, as they were sometimes called, he invited his guests to send in notice of the difficulties which they felt; and at the next meeting these were dealt with, partly in the form of a lecture and partly in the way of question arid answer. The following were among the subjects which were chosen-- 'the Mosaic account of the Creation,' 'the Deluge,' 'the Plagues of Egypt,' 'the hardening of Pharaoh' s heart,' 'the influence of Egypt on the Mosaic system,' 'Dr. Colenso' s work on the Pentateuch,' and 'the date of the Book of Joel.' The first of these meetings was held on November 4, 1863.
Pusey used also for the same purpose all his turns for preaching in the University pulpit. He felt that in many instances the young had to be won again to Christianity. It was believed at that time that a fashion prevailed among the more talented young men to regard unbelief as a mark of intellectual power, and it seemed necessary to restate the most central truths of the Faith with careful explanation of their full meaning. As he says himself, he 'essayed to teach his young audience first principles of faith, or he dwelt on doctrines that had been represented as incompa–tible with Revelation, or on subjects which from early experience- he had felt to be of value as evidence of faith.'
In pursuance of this purpose, on October 13, 1861, he preached in reply to Mark Pattison' s. essay in 'Essays and Reviews' : he agreed with him that the Evidence writers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were not convincing, but pointed out that their real deficiency lay not so much in the fact that they appealed to Reason, as in the fact that they endeavoured to discover in the intellect alone all the grounds of the living faith of a Christian. The intellect could of necessity at its best only show that there is a probability that Revelation is true.
'Men might act prudentially on such grounds as these; they might cultivate some moral virtues, act as good heathen, to escape the risk of Hell. But the inmost soul (whether it can analyze the grounds of its faith or no) knows that these are not its grounds. Such a conclusion, after a balance of probabilities, is not the Divine faith of which Scripture speaks, which God gives, which Christians have…Faith, by its certainty, sees Him Who is invisible...This was the promise as to the Gospel, not " opinions," or " views," not uncertainties, or a hesitating belief, which it should be 'the safer side' to accept, which the contradictions 'of the world could browbeat; but knowledge, a certain, personal knowledge of God and of Christ, a knowledge given to us by God, not collectively only, nor to the first disciples more vividly than to us, but individually also; a knowledge which God should infuse, with His gift of faith, into the soul' .
Again, six months later, by the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor, he preached on the motto of the University, 'Dominus Illumingtio Mea,' and set forth God as the only source of all knowledge, whether in Reason or in Revelation. These were followed by a series of Sermons on the evi–dential value of the predictive element of the Old Testa–ment, especially with regard to the prophecies about our Lord, and His Atonement and His Kingdom. Against all depreciation of the reality of these predictions, Pusey at great length set forth the fact that the prophecies were uttered before the events and that subsequent history most remarkably fulfilled them. He was very much impressed by the convincing power of this evidence beyond all other kind of argument, and he pleaded earnestly for its prayerful consideration as a remedy for the intellectual unsettlement of the day.
'Man cannot give faith: man cannot demonstrate faith into the soul; he can but meet argument by argument, and little comes of it. " Rarely, very rarely," said one of much experience, " have reasonings or discussions subdued or brought back wandering hearts." The pro–phetic word is powerful, more powerful than any exposition of it; for it is the Word of God; it breathes with the Spirit of God, it burns with the love of God. It will lead you, for God will lead you through it. Only give up. your whole heart to Him Who made you in His Love. Say to Him, " My God, I believe, with my will, whatsoever Thou hast revealed. For Thou art the Truth. Thou canst not deceive, nor be deceived”: and pray to Him.
I knew the inmost heart and mind of one of the clearest intellects of my day, who, in his youth, was beset by the difficulties of a more powerful philosophy than any of these things which are circulating among you, and who thought it impossible that he could ever again believe a miracle. By God' s mercy, in order not to pain his parents, be entered a church, and there heard again some of the narratives of our Redeemer' s life. It flashed upon him, " but for the miracles, this sounds like true history." So he prayed to God the sceptic prayer, that " if He concerned Himself about His creatures, He would hear him." God heard the prayer, the best which, in that state of unbelief, His creature could make, and, through the study of the prophetic word, led him to acknowledge the miracle of Divine wisdom in prophecy, and so gave to him the light of faith.
Only seek with thy whole heart, without reserve, without withholding anything' .
Another sermon dealt with the doctrine of the Atone–ment; another on Everlasting Punishment, in the Michael–mas Term of 1864, and another in Septuagesima, 1866, on 'Miracles of Prayer,' in reply to Professor Tyndall. In all these he had in view 'that strong tide of half-belief, mis–belief, unbelief, which has so largely occupied every sort of literature.' He longed to set forth to the young-- 'my sons,' as he touchingly calls them--some of the truths on which he lived, and which he feared that they might. in a moment of loyalty to supposed truth, be led to sacrifice. These dreary years of struggle for the truth are compara–tively uninteresting to describe; they must have been yet more wearisome to Pusey as he lived and fought each moment, throwing up continuously new lines of defence. In his sermons alone, of the records of this period, do we find the brighter side of the clear faith, the strong courage and the great thirst for souls which stimulated and sustained him in the conflict.
To the same kind of work belongs also the valuable Paper which he read at the Norwich Church Congress on October 5, 1865. He had for many years been maintaining that watchful interest in the progress of physical science which he continued until the end of his life. While other people talked of sympathizing with scientific progress, he read the scientific books whenever he found that the faith of believers was imperilled by them. He saw also most clearly the necessity of warning eager but short-sighted Christian apologists against the serious and constantly recurring temptation to adjust, without due caution, the interpretation of Scripture to the latest phase of scientific teaching. He had been corresponding with Newman on the subject in 1858.
REV. J. H. NEWMAN TO E. B. P.
April 11, 1858.
As to Geology, I am the worst person to consult possible, and so I think is any co-religionist of mine--and for this reason--because so little is determined about the Inspiration of Scripture, except in matters of faith and morals. There is an old traditional feeling in favour of many views, which may not in the event prove more tenable than that of the sun going round the earth. I think that in Galileo' s time a shock was given to the Catholic mind which never can be repeated. And then, too, I cannot help thinking a lesson was given to ecclesiastical authorities, which they will never forget, of not seeming to mix what in fact they did not mix up, questions of theology and questions of science. Then, on the other hand, I have a profound misgiving of geological theories--though I cannot be sure that facts of considerable importance are not proved. But in the whole scientific world men seem going ahead most recklessly with their usurpation on the domain of religion. Here is Dr. Brewster, I think, saying that, 'more worlds than one is the hope of the Christian,' and as it seems to me, building Christianity more or less upon astronomy. I seem to wish that Divine and human science might each be suffered in place to take its own line, the one not interfering with the other. Their circles scarcely intersect each other.
Again a few days later Newman writes:--
REV. J. H. NEWMAN TO E. B. P.
April 21, 1858.
..I quite feel what you say about Buckland' s 'Reliquiae.' It has made me distrust every theory of Geology since: and I have used your words, 'Why take the trouble to square Scripture with facts and theories which will be all changed to-morrow, and we obliged to begin over again?'
While preparing his Paper for 'the Norwich Church Congress, Pusey had another opportunity of consulting Newman when he met him at Hursley on September 12. After this talk Newman still wrote anxiously on the subject, 'fearing lest neither people' s minds nor the subjects them–selves were ripe for discussion.' But Pusey knew how greatly people were distressed by the supposed contra–dictions between Geology and the Bible, and he thought it was a good time to make clear the distinction between what is of faith and what is not. 'People are uncomfortable about all these allegations of Lyall and others, and would be glad to have a way out of them consistently with the truth of Holy Scripture.' He felt that he could show that physical science could have nothing to say against the Bible.
Had Pusey cared for popularity, he would have been much flattered by his reception at the Church Congress at Norwich. From that large assembly of Church-people he received a welcome which was far more than the ordinary kindly greeting to those who are at the pains of addressing a meeting. Reiterated bursts of cheering were intended as the meet recognition of one who had suffered, on behalf of the Church, an amount of misunderstanding and calumny which falls to the lot of few. The Paper which he read on the occasion was of marked importance: if its positions are commonplaces in theological thought now, they were then far in advance of what was ordinarily held by either scientific or theological students. It was the product of a period in which he thought himself able to see the possible reconciliation of divergences which were widely regarded as permanent. Within the Church of England the attacks on the Faith seemed t9 be uniting 'High' and Low' Church. Pusey' s 'Eirenicon,' with regard to the relation between the Church of England and the Church of Rome, was at that moment being issued from the press; and this address was another and, in the event, a far more successful 'Eirenicon,' to reconcile the supposed antagonism between the Bible and Physical science. To appreciate Pusey' s untiring labours, it must be remembered that this work in reply to 'Essays and Reviews' was being written at the same time as the 'Eirenicon,' and that he went up to the Norwich Congress whilst preparing for a journey to France with a view of ascertaining the attitude of some French Bishops towards his proposals for Reunion.
His Paper began with warnings against the over-hasty adoption of any scientific theories, however closely they might seem to fit the Biblical record, and also against they fear of any scientific facts; at the same time he warns students of the Bible against being 'too positive, in matters not connected with the centre of Revelation, as to any given interpretation of any insulated statement.' 'The right interpretation of God' s Word will never be found in contradiction with the right interpretation of His works.' But there may be faults on either or both sides: either the theologian or the physicist, or both, may misinterpret the facts of their own science. 'It is uniformly not in the facts; but in the theories founded thereon, that the alleged contradictions lie.' This thought he illustrates at great length with regard to the Scriptural statements arid the scientific facts in con–nexion with the first chapter of Genesis, the account of the Deluge, and the unity of the human race. He concludes with a review of the past history of the relations between Revelation and Science, and a statement of their right attitude to each other.
'It belongs to the comprehensiveness of Revelation, as coming from Him Who is Infinite, embracing and enveloping man in all his faculties, incorporating itself in his history, traversing his paths, rolling in its own orbit around God, but reflecting His light in turn on everything of man, the least as well as the greatest, that it should seem liable, in its long and intricate course, to impinge upon some other truth of God or man. People have watched it, thought a collision inevitable, expected its extinction; but like Jesus, it passed through the midst unharmed. They were but nebulae, which seemed to oppose its way. True! we cannot divide Holy Scripture or Christianity, polypus-–like, so that one part might be cut off, and the rest remain in the same life as before. It is one whole; and as, in that beautiful. system of our nerves, one prick at an extremity runs through the whole and may carry death, so it would be with the Gospel, if it were possible. But we who know in 'Whom we have believed, know that it is not possible. Attack after attack has fastened upon it, now here, now there, and we have looked on wondering, as they did at St. Paul at Melita; looking when he should have fallen down dead suddenly; but he had shaken off the beast into the fire and had got no harm. As in St. Paul' s case, the poison might reach from one of those extreme points which Christianity puts forth even to its centre, if it had not a Divine life. But we, who are of it, know that it has an invulnerable life which cannot be reached, for it is upheld by God.
This, then, is our attitude toward any researches of any science; entire fearlessness as to the issue; awaiting that issue, undisturbed, whenever it shall unfold itself....
Faith can afford this. For it has its own separate sphere, the home of its being. Physical science and faith are not commensurate. Faith relates to that which is supernatural; science, to things natural; faith rests upon what is supernatural; science, upon man' s natural powers of observation, induction, combination, inference, deduction; faith has to do chiefly with the invisible; science, with this visible order of things. Science relates to causes and effects, the laws by which God upholds His material creation, or its past history. It is purely material. Faith relates to God, His Revelation, His Word. Faith has the certainty of a Divine gift; science has the certainty of human reasoning. Faith is one Divine, God-given, habit of mind. It is one and the same in the well-instructed peasant as in the most intellectual philosopher, perfect, solid, unshakeable. What really lies outside the peasant' s faith, cannot really touch the faith of any, however intellectual. Faith lives above the clouds of human doubt, in the serene sunshine of the Eternal Light; and, contemplating Him, the Cause of all causes, the Truth of all which is true, the Life of all that is, is sure that there is a solution of any thing which seems for a time (if so be) insoluble. Lightning and storm gleam far below. For it rests secure in the bosom of its God.'
From different sides Pusey received the warmest thanks for his Paper. The feelings expressed by all are as briefly summed up as possible in the following short letter from the distinguished Linacre Professor of Physiology at Oxford, whose opinion Pusey valued highly:--
PROFESSOR ROLLESTON TO E. B. P.
Feb. 12, 1866.
I am very much obliged to you for your Norwich address. I wish all writing on the subject had been in the same spirit of caution and courage: and I hope it will be widely read, as it will prevent much mischief being done to the cause of Revelation, on the one side by its foes and on the other side by its friends.
At the same Congress Pusey spoke at a meeting in favour of having all sittings in Church free and unappro–priated. His words on that Occasion explain the principle which led him, many years before, to make great sacrifices that he might give £5,000 anonymously to build churches in Bethnal Green, and, in the following summer, to spend the Long Vacation in caring for the cholera patients in the same neighbourhood.
'I have taken the greatest interest in this society on the ground that it is pre-eminently a Gospel society. It declares and maintains that we are all one in the Eyes of our God, and insists on the Church that her special heritage is the poor. I never can see a poor religious man without feeling the utmost reverence for him, arid his patience, his whole character, his self-denial, his endurance, are to me the most stupendous proofs of the stupendous grace of God. I never see a religious poor man without expecting, by the mercy of God, to see him far above myself in heaven. I say this society is especially a Gospel society, because its object is the poor, and it requires only one word to ask you how much we are indebted to the poor. From Whom had we the Gospel? He Who gave it, He Who redeemed us, and He Who died for us, was a poor Man, so much so that ancient writers whenever they found the word " poor" in the Old Testament, for example, " Blessed is the man who considereth the poor and needy”--they asked the question, " Who is this poor--Jesus?" Whom did He send out as His disciples ?--the fisherman, the tent-maker, the tax.-gatherer. Who converted the world but the poor? Century after century the Christians were simply the poor, and they conquered the conquerors of the world. One thing, however, I .can say to you, because I can look further back than perhaps all but some two or three of you, and that is : that though there may be a " day of small things," still a great change has in the present century begun. When I was a boy myself; my lot was cast a good deal in the West of London, and I never saw there the face of a poor man. The first I saw was when I went to hear the most eloquent preacher of his day, Bishop Heber. I did not see him, but I saw what was far more blessed to me than that--a poor man standing in the midst of the congregation, with tears streaming from his eyes, as touched by the message which produced them. That must be some fifty years ago, and through all that time I have never forgotten the face of that poor man.... I am afraid it would be too true to say that the largest heathen city in the world is the city within a hundred miles of this place, because no heathen city in the whole world has anything like its population.... I may say my greatest interest in coming to this place is yourselves--and I wish to say,--and my name has been made a bye-word for things with which I am little concerned,--to tell you of the deep interest which, in a life now reaching towards the age of man, I have ever felt in the poor, and the deep interest I have in this society, because it restores the Church to be the mother of the poor, and restores to her her great, her noblest heritage, without which she would be as nothing, without which she would be disclaimed by her Lord--the poor' .
It will be seen that in all these various ways of Lectures, Sermons, Levees, and Papers, Pusey was endeavouring to make solid contributions to the defence of Christian doctrine. But his mind was naturally occupied at the same time with the old question of the constitution of the Final Court of Appeal for ecclesiastical cases. The decision of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the two suits connected with 'Essays and Reviews' , recalled the attention of Churchmen to the constitution of that tribunal which had as a matter of fact acquired the right to declare the legal interpretation of the doctrinal Formularies of the English Church. The agitation against the Court that followed upon the Gorham case has already been described: it was renewed with yet greater force in February, 1864, and with far greater hope of success. In 1850, the decision was practically on a point which separated the two great parties of the Church from one another: on the present occasion they were prepared to act in harmony. Immediately after the decision, Pusey opened a correspondence with Mr. Gladstone both about the Judgment itself and also about the constitution of the Court.
E. B. P. TO RIGHT HON. W. E. GLADSTONE, M.P.
Feb. 18, 1864.
As for the Judicial Committee, we have the highest Court in Ecclesiastical matters advocating a 'non-natural' sense being put on words, and acquitting Mr. Wilson by aid of such non-natural sense. On this I have written more at length in the Record of to-morrow, if they put it in. On this principle, a non-natural sense might be put on every doctrinal term, 'faith,' 'grace,' even 'God.' It seems to me an utterly unprincipled Judgment, which the judges would have reprobated in any Civil matter.
But what is to be done? It would be far better that all Courts should be abolished, and men left to their own consciences and Sub–scription, than that the law should be thus profaned to teach them to cheat their consciences....
I hear that the Bishop of Oxford wished that the Bishops should be excluded from the Judicial Committee, so that it should be a merely Civil Court, without having any plea of having an Ecclesiastical sanction. I am not satisfied that it would be best. For if it is done at the wish of the Church, then it is the Church who wishes her doctrines to be defined by persons who never studied them and, I fear, too often do not believe them.
There might be more hope of justice if the Bishops were equal in number, but then this must be without possibility of packing them.
After the Gorham Case, one thousand Clergymen, members of Con–vocation memorialized that the Supreme Court of Appeal should be the Provincial Synod. This is the only Ecclesiastical Court of Appeal.
The truth might have more chance than it has now if all the Law Lords sat, with or without an equal number of Bishops.
A change of the Court of Appeal would be good, even if it should do nothing more than prevent this flagitious Judgment being final. For the Judgment of this Court of Appeal would not be binding on a new Court.
I have not ceased to be hopeful, although I see it to be a struggle for life or death of the English Church. There is much more faith among the young men now than there was a few years ago, so that God the Holy Ghost has not forsaken us.
But it is a perilous crisis, and the principle adopted seems to be 'Part with those who believe most and retain those who believe least.'
God be with you.
Our new Eccl. Hist. Prof. will be a great gain.
Mr. Gladstone was fully alive to all the difficulties of the case. He felt doubtful whether the main objection to the Judicial Committee lay in the fact that the Court had to deal with defendants as criminals, or in the fact that judges who were not trained theologians were set to try theological cases. He, however, preferred what was called the Bishop of Oxford' s plan of improvement, by which the judges would be all laymen and therefore would not seem to commit the Church by any of their decisions.
A few days later Pusey received from Bishop Wilberforce, as has already been stated, a draft petition to the Queen, expressing a belief that the Judicial Committee is ill-adapted as a Court of advice to Her Majesty in appeal from the Ecclesiastical Courts, and praying that a Commission may be appointed to inquire into the matter. Pusey did not believe in the wisdom of a demand for a commission. In writing to Liddon he expressed his objections to the proposal.
E. B. P. TO REV. H. P. LIDDON.
Monday [Feb. 22, 1864.]
... The result would probably be, that we should have an unsatis–factory answer after a year, and that then people' s energies would have relaxed.... Then, of course, the Chancellor would not like the implied censure on his own Judgment, yet he must be a member of the Commission.
The radical evil of Law Judges is their bias to acquit the accused. In their own Courts, where they understand the law, this tends only to a rigid construction of evidence, which may be right. But in Theology, which they do not understand, it leads to a lax construction of the Formularies, which lessens on each occasion the sum of that doctrine, which the Clergy are required by law to believe.
After the Gorham Case, one thousand Clergy of our Convocation memorialized for the substitution of the Provincial Synod.
I am inclined now to wish that the Prayer should be, either that the Judicial Committee should be changed, or that the subject should be referred to Convocation if it is necessary that the Queen should give leave for any measure being devised....
But as a preliminary step Pusey thought it good to get a legal opinion on the exact force of the Judgment which had just been pronounced. He submitted a Case to Sir Roundell Palmer and Sir Hugh Cairns, asking. fifteen questions as to the meaning of the Judgment. He desired to know how far the Court gave its sanction to certain conclusions which were certainly contrary to the faith, and which seemed logically to result from thee words of the decision. After waiting three months the following brief opinion was the only answer:--
'We are of opinion that the Judgments of the Privy Council in the recent eases of Dr. Williams and Mr. Wilson, do not, by necessary implication, or otherwise, furnish the means of determining in the abstract any of the legal questions raised by the present case.
'We understand these Judgments merely as deciding that, in those particular cases, there was no offence against the law pleaded or proved, unless the exact propositions stated by the Lord Chancellor could be deemed to be embodied in the formal and dogmatic teaching of the Church of England, so as to be rigorously binding upon every clergyman: which they were held not to be. But it would be most unsafe, and, in fact, impossible, to attempt to derive from those decisions, any rule for the determination of other hypothetical cases, each of which (if it should ever assume a practical form) must depend upon its own circumstances.'
To this the following postscript was added in consequence of the vagueness of the expression 'exact propositions.'
'We understand the Lord Chancellor to have, in substance, founded his Judgments upon a negative answer to the inquiry whether every Clergyman of the Church of England was strictly bound to affirm the following propositions:--
1. That every part of every book of Holy Scripture was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and is the Word of God.
2. That it is impious or heretical to entertain or express a hope, that even the ultimate pardon of the wicked, who are condemned in the day of Judgment, may be consistent with the will of Almighty God.'
Such an opinion limited indeed the harm that the Judgment might effect; but still Pusey felt it intolerable that a decision on doctrine, even in such vague terms, should issue from a Court of Final Appeal not purely spiritual. To his mind the contention that in a suit with criminal consequences no other decision could be expected, provided only one further reason for agitating for a change. He wrote for Keble' s advice in the matter.
E. B. P. TO REV. J. KEBLE.
What do you think of having a society for agitating the change of the Final Court of Appeal, or joining any existing society on condition that they would do so? . . . I am afraid that the Low Church would leave us on any definite plan which would put more power into the hands of the Bishops; and the High Church, as you say, are so strangely apathetic.
We have to take care not to show misgiving about the Church of England, else people will go off like a landslip.
But at this moment Pusey' s health broke down under the, strain of his varied work. The Judgment about 'Essays and Reviews,' the excitement and correspondence about the Declaration, the labour of bringing out the Lectures on Daniel, the many anxieties as to the Greek Professorship, and constant work in connexion with the business of the University were too great a strain even for him. It seemed for the time that his health was seriously injured, and his doctor ordered him to leave Oxford. He found a retreat at Ascot Priory, which, as will be seen, he often revisited, and where the invigorating air of the pine woods always refreshed him. 'I find,' he told Keble afterwards, 'the smell of the pines refreshing to the brain. One does not find out until one is poorly, how that common gift of smell refreshes the brain, please God.'
It was in this weak state of health that he sent to the Press, with a strongly worded Preface, the Opinion which Sir Roundell Palmer and Sir Hugh Cairns had given about the bearing of the recent Judgment. This Preface he sent in proof to Keble, explaining that he 'wrote it on the idea that unless one said strong things about the unprincipled character of this decision, and of any future probable decision, one might just as well write nothing at all.' 'I went,' he explains half humorously in another letter in which he adopts some of Keble' s modifications of his language, 'as near to incurring the penalties of libel and treason as I thought I might without sin.' His letters show very evidently the overstrain of the time: he is desponding and lonely. This feeling of depression was no, doubt increased by Liddon' s long illness, on wham at that time he largely depended for keeping himself in touch with the younger High Churchmen.
In the early days of September, 1864, he issued this pamphlet under the title of 'Case as to the Legal force of the Judgment of the Privy Council, in re Fendall v. Wilson; with the Opinion of the Attorney-General and Sir Hugh Cairns, and a Preface to those who love God and His Truth.' The Preface certainly justifies Pusey' s account of it, as containing severe expressions. Its aim is to show the diversity of interpretations that' were given to the Judgment. For very varying reasons Roman Catholics, Broad Churchmen, and others were triumphing over the supposed loosening of doctrinal bonds in the Church of England, while others, who feared the consequence of the Judgment, were correspondingly depressed. But this legal Opinion, Pusey contended, had removed the causes alike of triumph and of fear. The Attorney-General and Sir Hugh Cairns had explained that the Judgment neither denied the Inspiration of Scripture nor the belief in Eternal Punishment; it only stated exactly what it stated. Nothing must be read into it, although its first aspect was so threaten–ing. Pusey pointed out that there was no hope of ever getting a better Judgment, because if these cases must be criminal the bias of the Court would be of necessity in favour of the accused. The Court had no training in the theological meaning of the words which it was called upon to interpret, and, legally, the words of the Judgment, which seemed to convey so much, admitted only the minimum of meaning of which they were capable; at the same time the principles of interpretation on which the Judgment was based were, he thought, beyond words deplorable. The Judicial Committee had agreed, as he understood, to take words in a non-natural sense, and to give any possible meaning to a word which was not clearly interpreted in the Formularies. It was intolerable, so Pusey argued, that the truth should thus be endangered; such policy overlooked the value of the Church as securing the stability of the State; and would probably rend the Church in twain. The present idol of the Church physicians seemed to be to sacrifice everything to comprehensiveness and to let the Church comprehend the nation by becoming an aggregate of all the unsanctified opinions of the world, 'a Pantheon of all its idols.' The principles enunciated by the Lord Chancellor would make Articles, Creeds, Prayers, Scripture a mere superficial mirror in which any one, instead of seeing the truth of God, was to see only the reflection of his own mind. It was a time, Pusey claimed, when every minister and member of the Church, who had any love for his Redeemer, or for the Word of God, or for the Truth as it is in Jesus, should unite as one man to cast off this Anti-Christian tyranny of the State.
He concluded with a few practical suggestions to keep alive this desirable object in men' s minds.
'Pledges have been the fashion; and a general election is at no great distance. Let Churchmen, on the principle of the Anti-Corn-Law League, league themselves for " the protection of the faith." " The Church is in danger," has been, and will again be, a strong rallying-cry. And now the peril is not of some miserable temporal endowment, but of men' s souls. Let men league together to support no candidate for Parliament who will not pledge himself to do what in him lies to reform a Court which has in principle declared God' s Word not to be His Word, and Eternity not to be Eternity. And let them support persons, of whatever politics, who will so pledge themselves. Let men bind themselves not to give over, but to continue besieging the House of Parliament by their petitions, and beseeching Almighty God in their prayers, until they shall obtain some security against this State-protection of unbelief. Better be members of the poorest Church in Christendom, which can repel " the wolves which spare not the flock," than of the richest, in which the State forces us to accept as her ministers those whom our Lord calls " ravening wolves." Withal see we to it, that we pray God earnestly day by day to stem this flood of ungodliness, and to convert those who are now, alas! enemies of the faith and of God.'
These were strong words; but Keble as well as Pusey felt that they were very urgently needed. The troubles of the times, the apparent concession to unbelief, and the taunts of Roman Catholics, rendered calmness almost impossible. Manning and the Westminster Review united to give the same interpretation of the Judgment: and the fear of secessions to Rome and the threatening dominance of Liberalism in the Church of England caused Keble to give his full approval to Pusey' s vehement language. He wished that a paper of his own should be circulated with it, and desired that the two papers should be said to stand to each other pretty much as letters which have crossed.
'But be sure,' writes Keble, 'I 'will try to be a sort of armour-bearer or trumpeter for you in the fight which, as you say, is too plainly coming... I expect that the safe party, who will shake their heads at us, will be more numerous than any other. God grant they may not ruin us.'
The correspondence that passed at that time between them betrays the strength of the feeling that moved them both; they were entirely at one on this as Well as other questions. Whenever he heard any one speaking disparagingly of Pusey' s actions, Keble would say emphatically, 'Remember I am a " Puseyite" of the very deepest dye.'
The Times attacked Pusey' s Preface as 'inflammatory' and his proposals as 'threatening.' Keble takes this opportunity of joining openly with Pusey. In the Times of September 22 he completely identifies himself with him in his present anxieties, and sets forth the worthlessness of the assumptions which were lulling a number of Church–men into a false security with regard to the principles of the Judgment. In the following passage, Keble forcibly exposes the dangers involved in silent acquiescence.
REV. J. KEBLE TO THE EDITOR OF THE 'TIMES.'
Sept. 20 .
1. It is assumed that the wrong done by the sentence, be it great or small, is confined to Dr. Williams' and Mr. Wilson' s parishes, and that others, therefore, need not be concerned; which, to those who count faith in the Bible and in eternity to be more than a matter of life and death, is as if the guides of public opinion were to say, 'It is only Mr. Briggs and his friends who are damaged; why such an outcry about bringing his murderer to justice?'
2. Men talk as if the practical effect of The Judgment would be limited to that special form of words which the two defendants respectively used; as if there could be the smallest doubt what a learned counsel' s reply will be when some Bishop shall hereafter ask whether he may safely refuse institution to any one simply holding and teaching he uncertainty of Eternal Punishment, or denying this or that portion of Canonical Scripture, acknowledged genuine, to be the Word of God?
3. It is assumed that the disparagement attaches only to those two doctrines, as if our Creed were not a structure, no part of which will bear displacing; as if all evidence properly Christian did not fade or vanish on the doubt or denial of Inspiration and all sanctions properly Christian on the doubt or denial of Eternity.
4. It is assumed that the interpretation of the legal conditions upon which benefices are held cannot possibly involve a question of orthodoxy.
5. It is assumed that our objection is to the substance only of certain decisions and not, as the truth is, to the composition also of the Court itself, and to some of the rules or principles by which it is apparently bound, as, for example, that a theological word is not to be taken in its known theological sense, unless that sense be laid down in terminis in the Formularies themselves; and again, that when the judges differ, the minority should be denied permission to explain its dissent, which is contrary, I believe, to the practice of her Majesty' s civil courts.
6. It is assumed that (since the Court avowedly takes no cognizance of doctrine) we are to be content to do without any doctrinal court at all.
7. After we have been lulled by the first five assumptions into a belief that our dogmatical position is not affected by the Judgment, it is assumed that we had better remain quiet, because the Judgment is but a step in an inevitable process which will rid us of dogma altogether.
8. It is assumed that the disadvantage of moving in this affair is so great and apparent as at once to overweigh the sad and palpable scandal which our seeming apathy is causing all over Christendom, and which is sure to be felt more and more both by the friends and enemies of the Church.
Pusey thanked him warmly for his letter, which he could not help contrasting with his own, 'Yours so calm, mine so fiery.' But Keble replied, 'I have been a little worrying myself that I did not more distinctly express sympathy with your wildness in my tame prose. But there will be opportunities.'
While it was not difficult to agree in protesting against the Judicial Committee, the constitution of the Court that should be proposed in. its place was, of course, a matter on. which it was far more difficult to reach a decision.
E. B. P. TO REV. J. KEBLE.
Sept. 25, 1864.
I hope that the Bishops of Salisbury and Oxford will not be satisfied with the mere striking out of the ecclesiastical element of the Court. For whatever is done would be done at the mere instigation of the Church; it is one thing to be under a bad government, and. then, being under one, to desire that, it should be made worse in order that one might say that one had nothing to do with it. It might have been better to be under a mere civil court than under the pseudo-ecclesiastical court on the ground that we, the Church, had nothing to do with the establishment of a civil court; but if we ask that the pseudo–-ecclesiastical court be turned into a mere civil court, we have to do with it. We have seen that the tendency of the Law Lords is to lay open all doctrine. To acknowledge the supreme court and to ask that it should consist exclusively of the Law Lords, would be to ask that they alone should have supreme control of all doctrinal cases, and so lay open anything and everything they please. It would be a sort of vote of confidence in them. The State is quite satisfied with the present constitution of the Court. If it is amended, it will be amended to please the Church. But we cannot be the parties to obtain the alteration and then turn round and say we have nothing to do with it. We should be shutting our own eyes. Our Bishops must be cognizant of what passed through Parliament.
I sent to Liddon for the Bishop of Salisbury a sketch of a court such as we have often talked of, in which the facts should be determined by Law Lords, but any interpretation of the Formularies should be by the Spiritualty.
At the same time Pusey was in correspondence with Mr. Justice Coleridge who had invited him to suggest some better alternative for the Final Court; and his attention had been called to the extreme difficulty of devising any tribunal which, while it possessed a theological knowledge sufficient to investigate the meaning of doctrinal state–ments, had also sufficient legal experience to decide upon the evidence. A few days later, a meeting of the chief movers in this matter was held at Rev. W. Upton Richards' house, 158, Albany Street, to concert some plan of action. Pusey asked Liddon to go to this meeting with him: 'I hope you will be there; you are quite old enough to be an Arch-conspirator.' It was seemingly the first occasion on which Liddon was thus invited to the inner and in–formal councils of those who were generally recognized as advising the actions of Churchmen in such matters. He was unable to go: but Pusey met there Keble, Lord Richard Cavendish, George Williams and others. It was decided to form au Association for the Reform of the Final Court of Appeal, and to draw up a Paper indicating the aims which Churchmen might put before them without committing themselves as yet to any one scheme. But it was found very difficult to work, and to enlist other workers, except on more definite lines. The various schemes are all referred to in the following letter:--
E. B. P. TO REV. J. KEBLE.–
Do you know whether the Bishops of Salisbury and Oxford have come to any understanding about the Court of Appeal? I am come not to mind much what the Court is, so that it is not the present. A change of the Final Court of Appeal not only annuls the legal form (whatever it is) of that opinion, but it is a censure on the non-natural interpretation of that Court in the late case.
Of the plans, that of the Bishop of Salisbury, to refer any explana–tion of doctrine to the Upper House of Convocation, is the plan of most faith, for their wrong decision (synodically) would go far to commit the Church to heresy. Indeed, I suppose that the minority would in such case have to renounce communion with the heterodox majority.
The Bishop of Salisbury' s plan would be following the old authorities at least as to the decision of doctrine. The Bishop of Oxford' s would not be unsafe if some six or eight sees were to be named, e.g. the two Archbishops, Bishops of London, Durham, Winchester, and the three senior bishops.
I do not know that even the plan of leaving it with the Judicial Committee, enlarged, would matter, so that it be not left under the influence of the Lord Chancellor, and they be restricted to saying 'non-proven' without giving any theological reasons.
Do you think that, in the case of a Conservative Government, ----would join with others in telling Lord Derby that the support which they would give him would depend upon his not nominating Neologians to high ecclesiastical preferment?
At the Bristol Church Congress in the same month Pusey and Keble agreed to open the subject during the discussion on Church Synods, on the afternoon of Tuesday, October11. Both of them were now more decided in favour of the Episcopal Synod as the right Court for doctrinal trials, even if the facts of the case should be submitted to a civil Court. Keble argued at Bristol that a priori the present Court would have been thought excellent in that it combined both the civil and the eccle–siastical element, but practically it had not turned out so. As a matter of fact, he maintained, it was an infringement of the Bishops' rights. But still his statements were not clear enough to get general support for his newly formed Association; he knew well the price that they would have to pay for more definite proposals. 'In nearly all quarters,' he writes on October 15, 'the same thing is said, " Be more distinct," and when we are more distinct in our own senses we shall find all abounding in their several senses also.' At another meeting of the Committee of the Association on November 23, Archdeacon Denison endeavoured to make the Association more definite, and carried by a majority the adoption of the formula 'No Bishops in the Court of Appeal.' This was passed against the wish of Pusey and Keble, and it also met with the disapproval of Mr. Gladstone, and was subsequently withdrawn.
E. B. P. TO RIGHT HON. W. E. GLADSTONE, M.P.
Feb. 21, 1865.
Our Court of Appeal Amendment Association has gone back in part to what I always wished it to be, an Association to obtain redress of the grievance, without prescribing the way in which it should be redressed, which belongs to the Legislature or to Convocation, as far as it advises the Legislature, not to us. I could accept much which I could not ask for. I care not how many experiments are tried and fail, until we come to something bearable at last. I only deeply care about not acquiescing in a known and tried evil.
When Convocation met in February, 1865, the reform of the Court of Appeal was brought forward by the Bishop of Oxford, who had been in correspondence with Mr. Glad–stone about it for four years. It was frequently debated in both Houses; evidently so important a question did not admit of being hastily settled. Those who were dissatisfied with the action of the present Court were numerous enough; but no one could see a remedy: It seemed more reasonable that statesmen should formulate the practical remedy for grievances under which the Established Church was suffering in an intensified degree in consequence of recent legislation. In this state of opinion Pusey could only hope, as he tells Bishop Wilberforce, that a few more decisions of the Lord Chancellor might increase the present distrust, so as to make reform absolutely imperative.