Life of Edward Bouverie Pusey
by Henry Parry Liddon, D.D.
London: Longmans, 1894
Transcribed by The Revd R D Hacking
THE ATHANASIAN CREED CONTROVERSY.
THE controversy about the Athanasian Creed was a sudden and most unexpected result of the Royal Com–mission on Ritual which had originally been appointed in 1867. When this 'Commission was engaged in preparing its fourth Report, which suggested alterations of the Rubrics throughout the Prayer-book, Lord Stanhope pro–posed a modification of the Rubric which stands before the Athanasian Creed; his aim was to make the use of that formulary in public worship optional instead of com–pulsory. The Commission under the influence of Bishop Wilberforce voted that such a proposal was ultra vires; but at a later meeting, when some new members had joined the Commission, this vote was treated as only a provisional arrangement; and the proposed alteration was again taken into consideration. On July 8, 1869, it was rejected; but in spite of this, other proposals were brought forward with a like object. Before any decision was arrived at, memorials for and against the innovation were sent to the Arch–bishops, and laid before the Commission. A memorial in favour of some kind of change was signed by a body of forty-four clergy and laymen, who, differing very widely among themselves as to the kind of change which they desired, yet agreed in wishing 'for some sort of alteration; and, on the other hand, the following representation, signed by upwards of twelve hundred clergy and laity, was sent to the Archbishops by Pusey in February, 1870:--
'Of the proposals submitted to your Graces, we are of opinion, that either to use the Creed less frequently in the Church Service than at present, or to render its use in any cases optional, or to omit the mis–termed damnatory clauses, will be fraught with danger to the best interests of the Church.
'Any of these expedients would be a grave injury to the maintenance of the dogmatic principle in the Church of England in its relation to the most central truths of Faith, and a new and severe shock would be given to the confidence of many of her most attached members in the claim to teach unfalteringly the Faith once delivered to the Saints.
'If we do not suggest the insertion of an explanation of the real force of the most solemn warnings of the Creed, this is because we apprehend that every well-instructed Christian must understand them to apply only to those whom God knows to have enjoyed full oppor–tunities for attaining faith in the perfect Truth and to have deliberately rejected it.
'In the interests of the future cohesion of the Church of England we earnestly beg your Graces not to sanction any tampering with an essential portion of the Book of Common Prayer, in which under God we still recognize our most powerful bond of unity.'
While this subject was being discussed by the, Royal Commission, together with the examination of every Rubric in the Prayer Book, another great change was being dealt with by Convocation. On Feb. 10, 1870, Bishop Wilber–force proposed the appointment of a Committee to consider the Revision of the Authorized Version of the Bible. Many years before, when Pusey was fresh from his studies in Germany, he had commenced a revision on his own ac–count, which he abandoned at first because of other work, and afterwards because of his own mistakes. In maturer years, he said of them in his will, dated 1875, 'I saw reason to withdraw many alterations which I made when young.' He deeply regretted that Bishop Wilberforce should now lend his weight to an authoritative scheme of the kind, and wrote to tell him so.
E. B. P. TO THE BISHOP OF WINCHESTER.
Feb. 12, 1870.
I fear that evil will result, from the state of criticism as to the text of the New Testament and as to the language of the Old.
There is a fashion in criticism, and I think that there was a good deal of truth in what the Bishop of St. David' s said, that one revision would involve continued revision. For if the principle is admitted that supposed errors are to be corrected, there ought to be continual revision. Yet I have outlived a good many interpretations. I have seen their birth, their flourishing state, their death and burial and their mummy state, in which they are curiosities. I doubt not that there has been considerable increase in the knowledge of Greek as a language: in Hebrew our translators had every advantage which we have, except a very uncertain one, the comparison of cognate dialects in the illustration of obscure words.
There is also a fashion in being liberal, not insisting overmuch on orthodox interpretation.
But this is nothing compared with the questions raised as to the Athanasian Creed and the Liturgy, except [so far] as the corrections of the translation will, as I fear, shake faith. The Bible, more than the Church, holds the masses of Englishmen to Christianity; their source of Faith is, I believe, the Bible. If their confidence in the Bible is shaken, so will be their Christianity.
For these reasons he declined to join the Old Testament Revision Committee when it was formed.
E. B. P. TO REV. H. P. LIDDON.
May 30, 1870.
I have declined the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol' s invitation to join the Revision Committee, on the ground that on the verge of seventy, one must make one' s choice what one would still do on earth for God, and that I hope that I am doing good by my Commentary, whereas I anticipated no good from Revision, in which I should pro–bably only be in a minority. This is final.
He was all the more glad that he had refused when he discovered that a Unitarian minister had been asked to take part in a work which had originated with the Bishops in the Convocation of Canterbury. When Dean Stanley invited all the members of the Revision Committee to receive the Holy Communion in Westminster Abbey, and admitted the Unitarian to Communion with the others, Pusey, though he felt keenly the character of such an act, declined to regard it as one for which the Church could in any way be held responsible. He wrote about it to Liddon on July 2.
E. B. P. TO REV. H. P. LIDDON.
July 2, 1870.
Single Bishops or an association like the Revisionists do not commit the Church. . . . Dear J. H. N. said to me one day at Littlemore, 'Pusey, we have leant on the Bishops, and they have given way under us.' Dear J. K. and I never did lean on the Bishops, but on the Church. We, or rather the whole Church have had plenty of scandals as to Bishops, and always shall have them.
But there were many others who would not accept his view that all the blame lay with the Dean of Westminster, but maintained that the Bishops were really responsible for the scandal. It was the cause of great offence, and the Bishops in no way repudiated it. No protest was raised in Convocation: to many the Church seemed to have forgotten the Nicene Creed, and their faith was strained to the breaking-point. Pusey wrote to Bishop Wilberforce to beg some help from the Bishops to calm the agitation
E. B. P. TO THE BISHOP OF WINCHESTER.
Christ Church, Oxford, July 18, 1870.
I thank you for your letter; but you might as well say 'Stop! stop!' to an army in full rout as try to allay a panic, that the Church of England in Convocation has assented to the denial of the Faith, otherwise than by repudiation of the act which would involve it. Could not you prevail on the Bishops of Salisbury and Gloucester and Bristol to say, each, that he holds it wrong to invite to Holy Commu–nion one who denies the Godhead of our Lord, or that Atoning Death, of which that Blessed Sacrament is the memorial and participation; I mean, to say this in the abstract?
I heard yesterday from Bennett of Frome: 'Many are preparing to secede; but whither, they know not, but somewhere they must go rather than be against their Lord.' These are not what are called Romanisers; for Bennett says, 'they know not where to go.' It is in mere despondency and terror about the Church of England, and lest they should be involved in the guilt of this sacrilegious Communion. No one would have been disturbed by any doings of Dean Stanley. They were simply in keeping with his whole character, as a fanatic enemy of all dogma. The misery was, that so many -Bishops, when appealed to in Convocation, seemed deliberately to connive at and defend it.
I do not wish those two Bishops to retract what they have said, but say something which they have not said, and which one should have thought every Bishop could say, that it is not right to invite to the Holy Communion one who does not believe the Creed of the Church, and who denies the Godhead of our Lord, and His Atoning Death. Your Lordship will do great service if you can persuade this.
The agitation about this 'Westminster scandal,' as it was rightly called, lasted far into the following year; it was at its height when, in September, 1870, the fourth Report of the Ritual Commission appeared. In the text, the Report recommended a vast number of emendations to the Rubrics; it left the use of the Athanasian Creed as it was before, but proposed the following explanatory statement: 'Note, that the condemnations in this Confession of Faith are to be no otherwise understood than as a solemn warning of the peril of those who wilfully reject the Catholic Faith.' This would have been satisfactory enough; but any value it may have had was entirely nullified when it was found that seventeen out of twenty-seven of the Com–missioners had appended to their own report a series of separate protests against the 'Note.' Foremost among the dissentients was Dr. Tait, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who openly declared against the use of the Creed in the service of the Church. A great fight was evidently at hand.
At. one time, the Archbishop appears to have thought that he could carry his project with little difficulty. He wrote to the Bishop of London about it as of a question in which there seems to be an almost universal consent in the Church. He urged that a clause allowing the disuse of the Creed should be added to the Bill in con–nexion with the new Lectionary which the Government was about to re-introduce in 871. But the Ministry would not consent to this course. The Bill was intro–duced without it and when,, on April 25, Mr. (afterwards Sir) T. Chambers proposed such a clause in the House of Commons, the feeling of the Bishops was so strong against this method of procedure that the Archbishop himself was obliged to use his influence with the mover to restrain him from taking a vote on the subject.
It was obvious, however, that the battle must be fought in Convocation. In that assembly, although very few objected to the actual statements in the Creed, yet the practical difficulties raised by the common misunderstand–ing of its warning clauses were found to have great weight. Heated debates produced no satisfactory conclusion. At last, on June 14, on the proposal of Bishop Wilberforce, a Committee of all the English Bishops was appointed to consider the question and report to their next meeting. Pusey felt that every effort must be made to prevent other Bishops from being misled by the Archbishop, and he had many fears about the attitude which Bishop Wilberforce might take. It was advisable therefore that the Bishops, before they came to a decision, should know some of the consequences either of mutilating the Creed or of removing it from its place in the public service of the Church. He thus expressed his own position to Bishop Wilberforce
E. B. P. TO THE BISHOP OF WINCHESTER.
Christ Church, Oxford, Oct. 19, 1871.
I am grieved to gather an impression from different sources, that you are in favour of banishing the Athanasian Creed from our Services. I believe that it is our only safeguard against our clergy and people falling into Nestorianism and Eutychianism, some into the one, some into the other. It seems to be thought that those who have faith may always be sacrificed with impunity to those who have none. I have fought the battle of the Faith for more than half my life. I have tried to rally people to the Church when other hearts failed. But if the Athanasian Creed is touched, I see nothing to be done but to give up my Canonry, and abandon my fight for the Church of England, It would not be the same Church for which I have fought hitherto. I should not doubt myself that Liddon would do the same. Indeed, he could hardly bring himself to look at the question, which the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol proposed to the Divinity Professors about the text and translation of the Creed, in the name of the Bishops of both Provinces.
This move of the 'old Catholic party' abroad may make an opening to many who could not have joined the Church of Rome. Or I might myself abandon our fight at Oxford, which year by year becomes more hopeful, and go to Scotland.
I cannot say what I should do. May God teach me! But one thing I cannot do--abide as a teacher in a Church which abandons a Creed which expresses the faith of Christendom, as expressed by the great Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon, and held from the first.
As for the idea, which I hear to have been introduced, of placing it with the Thirty-nine Articles, it is merely a civil bowing it out. Hitherto, I have been able to say and to teach in sincerity, that the Church of England teaches her people through the Prayer-book in the language of the people. This has been my plea for these twenty-one years, 'Lex supplicandi lex credendi.' I could say so no more.
I cannot think that your Lordship would take upon yourself the responsibility of making this split in the Church of England. I do not think that, on that deathbed to which we are approaching, some sooner, some later, but all, year by year, nearer, you would like to have it upon your conscience. I do not think that you would like the memory that one who had long studied the human mind told you that you combined in letting loose Nestorianism and Eutychianism and Arianism upon the Church of England. I believe that the removal of the Athanasian Creed would do this, and those who contribute to it would be among the agents. Your Lordship has a right zeal for winning all to the truth, but fire and water cannot be combined. We have endured much: but we cannot endure having one of our Creeds rent from us.
I cannot believe that you would concur in it: but reports so grave are circulated, that I felt it my duty to say how deeply such a measure, as those talked of, would cut.
An entry in Bishop Wilberforce' s diary of the following day, October 20, informs us that he showed this letter and a similar one from Liddon to the Archbishop of Canterbury, with whom he was then staying; and although the Arch–bishop had openly avowed his wish to remove the Creed from the services of the Church, and only a few days before had been eager to get legislative sanction for such a course, yet to all appearance he was 'far the time convinced that he must not' attempt to meddle with it. Pusey in the meanwhile returned to the attack, and set himself to state with even greater clearness the really critical character of the question. He therefore sent to Bishop Wilberforce another letter a few days later.
E. B. P. TO THE BISHOP OF WINCHESTER.
Christ Church, Oxford, Oct. 25, 1871.
It is strange, after above forty-six years of labour for the Faith and for the Church of England, to hold my office of teaching in her by a thread, the possible act of those under whom I have laboured. I do not say this publicly, because it would only stimulate some to urge the more, what would bring about my resignation. It is not for me to wish to bring this uncertainty to a close, except as I wish earnestly that our Bishops may not do what would be fatal to the Church and to faith in her. But in this state of suspense I am entirely crippled, as to any plans for the Church, which depend upon clerical income, seeing that my own may be forfeited at any time, nor could I advise any who hesitated, to receive Holy Orders, seeing I may have to cease from the office of teacher. I did not know when I last wrote to your Lordship, that Dr. Liddon had publicly stated that he should resign his office of teaching if the Athanasian Creed were tampered with. It is not for me to estimate what effects our joint resignation might produce. Liddon' s influence here with the young men is only equalled by that which Newman had in his most influential days. He has been the great instrument of restoring faith. Those congregations in St. Paul' s are only a specimen of his London influence: not a sermon but brings numbers of inquiring minds, seeking after faith. If it should please God that that voice should be silenced by death, every one would mourn the loss. Now they are our own Bishops, whose act would silence him. For myself, my work, at seventy-one, must be almost done: still glimpses, which I have from time to time, show me that many hearts would be a good deal shaken, if I should have to resign my office, on the ground that I could no longer keep the office of teacher in the Church of England. I have no idea who else would resign, or what people would do; but the fact of my having stood firm during so many shocks for these twenty-six years would emphasize the more my having to give way now. Each resignation too (Liddon' s and mine) would give the greater import to the other.
I have stood, and said that I would stand, so long as the Church of England remains the same. I said to Bishop Jenner, in view of people' s restlessness and the talks of change, 'I have wondered whether the Church of England will last my time, or whether it will split in two.' Your Lordship will think that it would be no slight wrench to have to give up the work of all those years. But I dare not hold on, if there should be any organic change. I should gladly see any right explanation of those warning clauses in the Athanasian Creed. To abandon them would [be] to me to be ashamed of our Lord' s words, 'He that believeth not shall be condemned,' 'He that rejecteth Me and receiveth not My words hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him at the last day.' It is plainly (as your Lordship must feel), the same contempt of Almighty God to refuse to believe what He reveals to us, as to refuse to do what He bids us. Out of disobedience men repent: of unbelief or misbelief, voluntarily contracted, scarce any.
Equally, or even more, I should think it fatal to relegate the Athanasian Creed into some corner, to be acknowledged by one knows not whom of the clergy, but to make no part of our devotions, to be banished out of the minds of the people. The Athanasian Creed has been the guide of my faith, ever since I began to think as a young man. What it has been to me it has been to all who have thought on those subjects of faith. Your Lordship must be aware, that it is the object of attack on two grounds; (1) its clear dogmatic faith, which minds like Dean Stanley' s hate; (2) that it asserts the importance of definite faith to all who can have it. The contrary is the heresy of the day. 'It is of no importance what we believe,' 'one Creed is as good as another,' is the central heresy of the day. There are symptoms that if it were (God forbid) given up, the Nicene Creed would be soon a point of attack, and whatever contains a definite faith.
I am amazed, why grave persons should now be talking of giving up the Athanasian Creed.
Before the end of the month Pusey received the following letter from the Archbishop:--
THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY TO E. B. P.
Oct. 30, 1871.
It was stated at a meeting of Bishops held last sum~ner at Lambeth that you had suggested some explanation of those clauses in the Athanasian Creed which are supposed by certain persons to declare that no member of the Greek Church can be saved. I am of course firmly convinced myself that the Church of England does not adopt the clauses in question with any such meaning. You are probably aware of the proposal made by the Ritual Commission to add an explanatory rubric to the Creed. The Bishop of Winchester has recently informed me, that in a letter deprecating any organic change in this Creed, you have said you would 'gladly see any right explana–tion of those warning clauses.' There is no doubt that very many faithful minds have been and are afflicted by the clauses unexplained.
It would be a great help to me at this anxious time if you would kindly tell me what the explanatory words are which I am led to suppose would be acceptable to you. I know how strong your feelings as to the danger of touching this Creed are, and it is therefore the more desirable that I should know your mind as to any right mode of explanation.
The Archbishop' s letter showed Pusey that Bishop Wilberforce had warmly and most successfully espoused the cause which he had at heart. If the Archbishop was about to be satisfied with explanatory words, the hold of the Church of England on the Catholic faith would not be loosened. Pusey wrote at once to thank the Bishop for his intervention.
E. B. P. TO THE BISHOP OF WINCHESTER.
Christ Church, Oxford, All Saints Eve, 1871.
Thanks be to God, and under God, I bless Him for your Lordship' s interposition. Bright said, 'Then the Church of England is saved.' It is a heavy weight rolled off, after which one can breathe again freely.
Liddon tells me that, at the time of the Ritual Commission, you framed a very clear statement as to the Greek Church in reference to the Athanasian Creed and the inclusion of the Filioque. The clauses cannot really apply to them, since we had the Filioque from our great Greek Archbishop Theodore, St. Augustine of Canterbury' s successor. It might be of great use to us here, if your Lordship could recall what that formula was and would entrust it to me.
At the same time a formal request was received from Bishop Ellicott, in the name of the Committee of Bishops, addressed, to the Divinity Professors of Oxford and Cam-bridge, asking their advice in this matter. Some of the Oxford Professors were most unwilling to enter on the question. They had already in the Memorial to the Ritual Commission of February, 1870, declared that they did not see the necessity for alteration or explanation, and further they did not know what use might be made of anything which they might suggest. But Pusey urged them to the work, on the ground that it was the Archbishop' s wish. At last, early in December, the following Note was sent to Bishop Ellicott:--
Your Lordship has addressed us severally in the name of the Bishops of both Provinces asking our aid in the revision of the original text and Prayer Book version of the Athanasian Creed, together with any 'suggestions' that might occur to us.
We have held frequent mutual consultations, and respectfully beg leave to report as follows
I. After examining the various readings of the Latin text of the Athanasian Creed which our translation may be assumed generally to represent, we find none of sufficient authority to warrant us in suggesting them to your Lordships with a view to the revision of the text.
With respect to certain omissions in the Commentary of Fortunatus, it is evident from an inspection of that manuscript of the Commentary which is preserved in the Bodleian Library and is believed to be the oldest in existence, that the commentator cannot have intended to exhibit a complete text of the Creed since, in some cases, passages are wanting which are obviously necessary to the coherence of the text on which he comments.
It must further be observed that of the warning verses commonly, although improperly, called damnatory, the first are given by Fortunatus, while those he omits have the support of all known manuscripts of the Creed.
II. We should not have been disposed to recommend any alteration in a translation associated with three centuries of faith and devotion. But if such a proposal is entertained we would observe--
1. That the Prayer Book version of the Creed has departed from the Sarum Text in its rendering of verses 29 and 42-- 'Ut inlcarnationem quoque Domini nostri Jesu Christi ,fideliter credat.' 'Quam nisi quis–que fideliter firmiterque crediderit.'
2. That having considered various new renderings of particular expressions, we are of opinion that the following alone are of sufficient importance to be laid before your Lordships:--
(a) Verses 9, 12. For 'incomprehensible' 'incomprehensibles' read 'infinite' 'infinites.'
(b) Verse 23. For 'of the Father and of the Son' read 'of the Father and the Son.'
(c) Verse 28. For 'He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity' read 'He therefore that would be saved let him thus think of the Trinity.'
Your Lordships will observe that we are unable to make any sugges–tions as to either the text or the translation which may be expected to obviate the objections popularly raised against the Creed. But on this very account we the more willingly submit for consideration the following form of a Note such as may tend to remove some misconceptions.
Note.--That nothing in this Creed is to be understood as condemning those who, by involuntary ignorance or invincible prejudice are hindered from accepting the faith therein declared.
We cannot conclude without expressing to your Lordships our deep sense of the practical value of this Creed as teaching us how to think and believe on the central mysteries of the faith. Experience has proved it to be a safeguard against fundamental errors into which the human mind has often fallen, and is ever liable to fall. For these reasons we earnestly trust that, in the good providence of God, this Creed will always retain its place in the public service of our Church.
J. B. MOZLEY, D.D., Regius Professor of Divinity.
E. B. PUSEY, D.D., Regius Professor of Hebrew.
CH. A. OGILVIE, D.D., Regius Professor of Pastoral Theology.
C. A. HEURTLEY, D. D., Margaret Professor of Divinity. -
W. BLIGHT, D.D., Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History.
H. P. LIDDON, D.D., Ireland Professor of Exegesis.
On the same day that this reply was sent Pusey wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury to tell him of the decision . He added--
E. B. P. TO THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY.
December (? 2), 1871.
…Dr. Bright told us of a dictum of your Grace which he had treasured up from his Rugby days, 'That a person cannot hold what he has not received,' or to this effect. I think that this explanation removes all objections by exempting all except culpable rejection of the known Mind of God, and it is, I suppose, even greater contempt of God wilfully to reject what He declares to us, than to do what He forbids us. For it is more deliberate rejection. Anyhow it does not say any more than our Lord, St. John xii. 48.
The Bishops met at Lambeth On December 5, and the Archbishop openly declared against a material alteration of the Athanasian Creed. He gave as his reason for this, his fear lest an alteration should split the Church, and it was decided that Convocation should be asked, as soon as possible, whether legislative sanction should be sought for an Explanatory Rubric of some kind.
But the question was not to be so easily settled. A letter from 'Anglicanus' in the Times of December 23, showed that the writer at least had not shared the Archbishop' s change of policy, and that he intended to renew his attack on the Creed itself. It was well known that the Arch–bishop' s heart was still with this effort, even when his judgment was obliged to go against it. Upon this, Liddon wrote to the Archbishop, as he and Pusey had done two months before to the Bishop of Winchester, to state that if the offending clauses were struck out by the Convocation of Canterbury, or the Creed disused, he would resign his preferments and retire from the Ministry of the English Church. Pusey thought that all fear of the alteration was over when the Archbishop had once changed his mind; and he had not seen the Times correspondence. Liddon wrote to tell him of the letter of 'Anglicanus,' and of his correspondence with the Archbishop. He replied:--
E. B. P. TO REV. H. P. LIDDON, D.D.
[Torquay, Jan. 2, 1872.]
I hoped we had been in port. The Archbishop knows from the Bishop of Winchester that I stake my all on the Athanasian Creed. Lord Beauchamp is very apprehensive about an attempt against the Athanasian Creed as making way for the central heresy of the day, the unimportance of definite faith to salvation.
They will send people by shoals off to Rome, and we could do nothing to prevent it. They will not shake Ritualists very possibly, whom they might wish to get rid of. These take their own line of caring for nothing, would go on their own way; say the Athanasian Creed in the old way. So the reign of lawlessness would be enlarged, and dutiful minds would be precipitated to the Church of Rome. It seems to me such utter madness now, when the Vatican Council would -by its decree of Papal Infallibility have gained great rest for minds among us, to make changes which would unhinge even quiet minds.
I only had your letter [to-day]. You may use any of this with my name to the Archbishop.
The Archbishop called this announcement 'a threat,' and many of Pusey' s friends were unable to understand why he should act in this way. To one of them he wrote a full explanation:--
E. B. P. TO REV. H. A. WOODGATE.
Oxford [Feb. 12, 1872].
The more the fact as to L. and myself distresses you, the more essential it seems to me. It does not matter taking one' s stand a little earlier or later. The Athanasian Creed is only a part of a whole; a Metz, which, if it fell, people would march on. It is no secret as to L. or me. He has written formally to the Archbishop; I to the Bishop of Winchester, who told the Archbishop; but the Juggernaut car is still driven on, and that by the Archbishop.
I think that the effect of Liddon' s resignation would be to send so many who are coming to the faith, both here and in London, adrift; some to go to unbelief, some to Rome. I cannot conceal from myself, that if, after having fought the battle for near forty years, I say I can fight no longer, it will shake a good many. I must say, in resigning, 'The ground is cut away from under my feet.' 'Amid all our con–fusions,' I have said, 'the Prayer-book in the language of the people is the teacher of the people: lex supplicandi lex credendi. But if you remove the Athanasian Creed, you have removed the whole teaching --which protects our people against the manifold heresies about the doctrine of the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation. I have no answer left. This is independent of the question itself that a Church, which, without a strong system of discipline to restrain heresy, gives up a teaching of sound doctrine, so far exposes her members to heresy and unbelief.
I have thought of nothing beyond; but I think Liddon' s resignation in his full strength and I as a veteran, who have stood so many storms, would be a repetition of the collapse of faith upon the resignation of J. H. N., &c. It would be the more so, because we have been prominent in defending the faith.
The words of the Creed are only an application of our Lord' s words in St. John, 'Whosoever rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words,' &c. Of course the words cannot apply to those who do not reject His word, viz, those who never heard it. The Church is speaking to members of the Church. It is her Creed for them. She delivers to them what was delivered to her by the Apostles as the Revelation of God. Whoso rejects it, rejects Him.
It startles people to say the Anti-Trinitarian or Mohammedan and we believe in a different God; but an Uni-personal God is altogether a different God. How could such a God be Love, with None to love?
In this controversy Pusey might have hoped that he should again have the support of the Low Church party, as in the matter of 'Essays and Reviews.' Then Lord Shaftesbury had been with him; and again in 1869, he had really sided with Pusey against Dr. Temple' s appointment to the see of Exeter, but refused to act openly in concert with him, from fear of compromising his deter–mined attitude against Ritualism. But now Pusey had good reason to fear that he would be acting against him. He wrote to his cousin anxiously expressing these fears. The answer he received was another instance of the manner in which even distinguished members of that party can be blind to the logical consequences of a policy to which they lend the weight of their name and position and the influence of their high character.
LORD SHAFTESBURY TO E. B. P.
Feb. 22, 1872.
You may be assured that I do meditate taking a part against the Athanasian Creed. I regard it as a document almost divine, and I believe every word of it from the first to the last syllable.
But the belief and veneration are quite consistent with a desire not to thrust it on unwilling and captious congregations. The uneasiness; the surprise, the confusion, that come over all the worshippers when it is read, greatly among the educated classes, but unboundedly among artisan and rural listeners, are distressing. I am convinced that it revolts many and furnishes abundant matter for easy and effective ridicule.
Many a thinking man, who rejects it in Public Service would accept it, if not forced upon him, in the quiet of his study.
Let it remain in the Prayer-book as a very pillar of our Church. If you will insist on its use, insist on its use for every Sunday. People will then become familiar with the mighty document and submit accordingly. The reservation of it for special days, without giving it weight, and conviction, only creates when it is read, an unpleasant wonder in every one' s mind.
Convocation discussed the Creed during its sitting in February, but reached no conclusion. Memorials were prepared on every side for the next meeting in April. Among them was one which Pusey intended to circulate for signatures, but at Liddon' s suggestion, he sent it with his own name only. It embodies, in their shortest form, Pusey' s arguments on the question. It ran as follows:--
The humble petition of the Rev. E. B. Pusey, D.D., showeth--
That it has not been the custom of the Catholic Church to rule by majorities things which affect the faith, and that the contrary procceding of the Vatican Council has given occasion to grave per–plexity in the Roman Communion and to censure among ourselves.
That to withdraw, or change anything in, a Creed in which the Church has heretofore confessed its faith to God, would be a change gravely affecting the faith.
That the members of the Church are bound to one another, not only by the One Spirit and by common Sacraments, but also by the prayers and confessions of faith in which they unite and are united before God.
That no great change can be made herein without disturbing our relations to one another, and that no change can be made herein against the wish and faith even of a minority without a tyrannical abuse of power.
That your Petitioner, with tens of thousands of others, has always felt the Athanasian Creed to be an invaluable guide in his belief on matters of faith, where error, as experience shows, comes very naturally to the human mind; and we doubt not that it has to us been a safe–guard, under God, against heresy, to which the human mind is prone.
That, although the same truths are embodied in the first five of the Thirty-nine Articles, yet in matter of fact it has not been those Articles, although subscribed and believed, but the clear statements of the Athanasian Creed, confessed to God in devotion, which have been the safeguard of faith.
That, amid the contradictory teaching of individual clergy, it has been a solace to thousands to be able to point out that the Church of England does teach clear definite truth through her Prayer-book in the language of the people, which Prayer-book we all, bishops and clergy, own to be superior to and above ourselves; and that the teaching, so made our own in. our devotions to Almighty God, sinks deeper and becomes part of ourselves much more than any abstract statement of truth, according to the saying--Lex supplicandi, lex credendi.
That it could no longer be affirmed that the Church of England did teach the full truth as to the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation, if the Athanasian Creed were removed from our public, services, or in any way mutilated.
That the so-called warning clauses (as to which there is no doubt but that they form an integral part of the Creed) are themselves a protection against [the] one great heresy of the day, that it is of no import to man' s salvation whether he have any definite faith as to what Almighty God has revealed, contrary to what our Blessed Lord has expressly declared, St. John xii. 48, St. Mark xvi. :6.
That a Church which should withdraw from the public worship, or mutilate, the Athanasian Creed, would, in the conviction of many thousands of its members, no longer be the same Church as that in which we were baptized, and which at our Ordination we vowed to serve, and that such change would ultimately break the Church of England to pieces, besides involving at once the loss of very many devoted servants and ministers, as appears already from the hesitation-of devoted young men to pledge themselves to her Orders while the grave question of the Athanasian Creed is thus agitated, or to retain the exercise of them.
That, on the other hand, there was perhaps never a time in which the prospects of the Church of England were more hopeful, if, under the guidance of God' s good Spirit, we hold fast what we have, and teach, according to the light which God gives to each, the blessed truths which He has committed to us.
That your Petitioner, and those with whom he has been for near forty years associated, have studiously abstained from suggesting any organic changes (even while we have not concealed our conviction that the Church of England incurred loss by the changes in the Prayer-book arbitrarily made towards the end of the reign of Edward VI. We felt that changes should not be made by majorities, and now that a change is threatened which would vitally affect our own position and, as we believe, dislocate the Church of England, we claim that the same forbearance should be shown towards us, which, as relates to organic changes, we ever used ourselves.
At the April sittings, the Lower House of Convocation decided that the use of the Creed should remain unaltered, but they were willing to consider any change of translation that would make the rendering more exact. The Upper House failed to reach any conclusion, until at the next session on July 4, 1872, Bishop Wilberforce carried a motion that, 'having regard to the scruples alleged by many faithful members of the Church,' a Committee of both Houses of Convocation should be appointed to consider 'as to any mode of relieving such scruples, whilst we maintain the truth which has been committed to our charge.' The Committee was appointed but was unable to meet until December.
Pusey had gone abroad for his health when this motion of Bishop Wilberforce was carried. The unwelcome news that the controversy was to be further prolonged was conveyed to him by Liddon and caused him to write at once to the Bishop of Winchester.
E. B. P. TO THE BISHOP OF WINCHESTER.
Hotel Meurice, Calais, July 8, 1872.
I hear from Liddon that you have obtained a Committee to consider 'what measures of relief &c. were advisable.' I am afraid your Lordship has a hopeless task to reconcile what is irreconcilable--Lord Shaftesbury' s petition and Dean Stanley' s speeches show what they desire, the excision of the Creed from our Services. Nothing short of this will satisfy Dean Stanley. Rather he will think every measure of proposed 'relief' to be an admission that there is some–thing really to be relieved, and use it as a vantage-ground from which to renew his attacks.... He scorned all Explanatory Notes, and used our readiness to admit one as an argument that we thought that there was something to be explained away. Any concession will, I fear, be but the beginning of the end; it will be used as a precedent for fresh relaxations in favour of heretical clergy, at the expense of believing congregations. You will not be averse to seeing a few lines which Liddon sent me in answer to my inquiries.
'As the Bishops all consented including C. I cannot but, fear mischief Indeed the mere fact, that the question is kept open, is mischievous. If indeed the Committee were to decide, (1) upon advising the removal of penalties attaching to the disuse of the Creed; or (2) upon recognizing a dispensing power with the Bishops, so far that if they used it, as part of their jus liturgicum, no penalties should attach to their doing so; or (3) upon leaving the whole thing alone, no great harm would be done, but I fear this can scarcely be looked for.'
The inquiries of the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol have brought before the Church what I always felt certain of, the high antiquity of the Creed. But now, our Bishops would be acting with their eyes open if they should tamper with the Creed, and going against what the Church of England 'has ever reverenced, the early and undivided Church. Your Lordship knows how strongly I feel about it. May God guide your Lordship' s Committee. I am come abroad, for, if God will, the recovery of health, but post equitem sedet atra cura. It is in vain to seek health with this gnawing care at one' s heart, what is going to be done in a matter which vitally affects all one loves. If your Lordship should have any occasion to write, a letter from Ch. Ch. from you would always be forwarded.
I dread having no Church to return to.
In concluding the debate in Convocation on July 4, the Archbishop of Canterbury used words which showed the influence which the action of Pusey and Liddon had had on the controversy. He said:--
'My own opinion is that the whole difficulty of the question arises from the conscientious' scruples of what I believe to be a very small body, but a body eminent for its zeal, eminent for its talent, and eminent in some respects also for its position. Had we not had statements from gentlemen whom we greatly respect, that, if certain courses were not taken, they should feel it their duty to retire into lay Communion with the Church of England, the matter would have been settled one way or the other.'
The words were no doubt a tribute to the opportuneness of Pusey' s action, but they were inaccurate in more ways than one. Pusey heard of them, when he paid a hurried visit to England to consult Sir James Paget, and he wrote at once to Bishop Wilberforce to remove any misunderstanding.
E. B. P. TO TEE BISHOP OF WINCHESTER.
Lille, July 27, 1872.
I called at Winchester House when in England for a day, wishing to correct authentically a statement which His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury was reported to have made in Convocation; viz, that it was but 'a small number of zealous men' (as he was pleased to call us) whom the tampering with the Athanasian Creed would drive into extremities, and that the specific effect upon us would be to drive us 'into lay Communion.'
1 I do not think that any one has used the term 'lay Communion.' But to speak for myself, I have looked on only to the first step, viz. that, as my defence of the Church of England, that she is a teacher of truth through her formularies, would be cut away, I must abandon my defence of her, and with it my position in her. What my next step would be, I do not yet know.... It would be a very grave thing, and would involve much, to have to own that Archbishop Manning, &c., were right in asserting that the Church of England did not discharge one of the essential duties of the Church--that of teaching her members the faith once delivered to the saints. Whither I should turn, if she should abandon me, I know not. But to remain in 'lay Communion' seems to me an absurdity. It would not be my own Orders, but her character, as having abandoned the trust committed to her, which would be brought into question. She, if she tampers with the Athanasian Creed, would acquiesce in a central heresy, that a definite faith has nothing to do with salvation. How a Church which does this with her eyes open (not, as the Church in the United States did, without seeing what it involved) can remain a portion of the Church of Christ, I know not. She would formally suppress the declaration, that what our Lord has revealed of Himself is essential for salvation; and that, because men affect to be scandalized at this His teaching.
I cannot then see how those who believe the Church of England to have been ashamed of our Lord' s words can continue to connive at her misdeeds or cast in their lot with her. I believe that the issue must be a rent of the Church of England in two. Dean Stanley looks at this in the face. He says, 'we should replace you by those whom we should gain.' But of what sort? It would be childish to think that Dissenters would be satisfied (as some one said publicly) by the removal of the Athanasian Creed. Up to the last year one never heard of any objection to it on the part of any Dissenters, except those who disbelieve in the doctrine of the Trinity and the Incarnation. The real question at issue is, any definite faith.... It follows logically, if definite faith, such as our Lord has revealed to His Church, is not essential to salvation, what is? Or what did our Lord come upon earth to teach?
2. As to the numbers. No one could predict what would. be the extent, to which such a departure from the faith, would affect men. Those whom it would move would perhaps not be those whom the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol would gladly get rid of--the Ritualists. These seem to me absorbed in having their own way; and they might go on, only holding your Lordship' s Order all the cheaper (and then, I think, rightly), as having betrayed the faith. The Bishops would herein put them in the right; they could no longer be slighted: they Would in the very gravest matter be in the right, you in the wrong. You would be in their eyes a sort of necessary evil, for the performance of such offices as we, of the second order, cannot perform.... So very possibly the withdrawal of Liddon and myself, and the grounds of that withdrawal, would be to precipitate an avalanche of just the most dutiful, faithful minds into Ultramontanism. In any case it would be over, sooner or later, with the Church of England.
Your Lordship, though more slowly than myself, is approaching towards your end. You, I suppose, must have past three score years; as I the three score years and ten. It must be some forty-five years; I think, since I first knew you. Allow me, then, in the memory of that almost half century, to say, that not for the whole world would I, on my deathbed, have on my conscience that I had not resisted to the loss of all things earthly, the aggression on the Athanasian Creed.
But he soon saw there was a necessity for a more public declaration of his position. In the early summer Lord Shaftesbury had presented to the Archbishops an influential Petition against the Creed, and on July 23 they, in a Letter which was published in the papers, replied to the effect that they considered that no explanation could be devised which would meet all the difficulties involved in the use of the Creed, but that they were ready to suggest some scheme which would deal with the question. Pusey saw that this meant that the Archbishop had not in the least abandoned his original wish to drop the Creed out of the public worship of the Church, and that he would only yield to the strongest pressure. He therefore wrote the following letter to the Times:--
E. B. P. TO THE EDITOR OF THE 'TIMES.'
Mayence, Aug. 10, 1872.
... I believe that a crisis is come upon the Church of England which may move men' s minds and make a rent in her or from her far deeper than any since 1688. Whether in these days the Establishment, in which you, Sir, feel more interest than I can profess to have; would survive the shock, the event only can show.
Allow me, without entering into any theological questions beyond the bare statement of facts, to state briefly why I think so. The wish to remove the Athanasian Creed rests in different minds on two grounds :--First, the supposition that the belief therein stated is too detailed; secondly, that the warning clauses speak of that belief as essential to salvation in those who can have it. Those, on the contrary, to whom the question of retaining the position of the Creed is a matter of life or death, hold the Creed to be the great instrument of teaching ourselves and the people how to believe and think aright on the Being of God and our Blessed Lord' s Incarnation. The 'warning clauses' we believe to be the only statement in our Church services (in contradiction to the prevailing wrong opinion of the day) that a definite faith in the truths which our Lord revealed is essential to salvation in those who can have it; in other words, that right faith as well as right life is essential to salvation, since our Lord has so declared it, and as a much greater contempt of God can be shown by rejecting what He reveals than by disobeying what He commands. Without then, judging the Church in the United States, whose few leading Bishops, at the time of its foundation, in framing its Prayer Book, parted with the Athanasian Creed, not knowing what they did, we believe that if the Church of England were, in view of the objections raised, to tamper with that Creed, it would forfeit its character of a teacher of the people as to that which, whether we believe or disbelieve it, is more central than the belief or disbelief of any one doctrine--viz. whether it is of moment to salvation to believe what Almighty God has revealed or no.
I state these as our convictions. The result of acting upon these convictions, if the Church of England (I do not speak of the State or State interference) should tamper with this Creed (which God forbid), no one can now foresee. The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke of those who have these convictions as a handful, and of their retiring into lay communion. I believe his Grace to be mistaken as to both points. People, mostly, do not speak out beforehand. Acute poli–ticians were utterly mistaken in their calculations on a matter of very inferior importance which gave birth to the Free Kirk. To retire into lay communion seems to me an absurdity; for the question would be, not as to the exercise of our Orders, but as to the character of the Church of England. To resign the office of teachers in her, since she would have become a new Church, would be the first step; what would be the next, they themselves have probably not predetermined as to a future which they hope will never be.
Allow me, in conclusion, to say that we only claim that things should remain as they are. Clergymen, at least, have no plea to demand a change; for of their own free will and choice they received Holy Orders in a Church which recites the Athanasian Creed in her services. I believe that there is a great future for the Church of England if she remains what she is. What she would become if she made this first change no one could imagine. In principle, it would involve many more. It would content none, except as a stepping–stone to more. Our Common Prayer is the one great bond of union in the Church. I believe that the great majority of devout Church–men are for retaining the Creed as it is. Anyhow, the change, we are convinced, if made by the Church, would constitute a new Church of England; our vows and duty remain to the old.
The Archbishop replied to this letter in his Charge in the early autumn. He acknowledged that he wished to remove the Creed, but some other alteration might be adopted, as distinct from an Explanatory Note. He had evidently returned entirely to his original plan. He adds:--
'Now I must state, though with much reluctance, that the greatest difficulty in the way arises from the unreasonable conduct of certain eminent persons, who declare that they will break the Church in two if we adopt any other than their own particular way of settling this grave difficulty. Such conduct, I say, is deserving of our reprobation, and I trust that, after a full consideration, those who are guilty of it will come to a better mind. All of us are anxious to maintain the great doctrine of the Trinity and that there shall be reality in our declarations; and if we meet with great difficulties, which have long pressed on the minds of earnest men, we have a right to seek the best advice, and to request these learned and devout members of the Church to assist us, and not to commence the discussion with an unwarrantable declaration that they are prepared to break the Church in two if the decision arrived at does not meet their own particular views.'
Rarely, probably never in the history of modern con–troversy has any prelate in so high a position used such language of 'reprobation' with regard to 'learned and devout members' of the Church; they are words which savour rather of the irritation of a partisan in a losing cause than of the weighty utterance of the chief bishop of a Church speaking of one who was confessedly among the most scholarly and devoted of her members. Pusey felt it necessary to explain to the Archbishop that the rent in the Church would be made by those who altered the Church' s Formularies, not by those who adhered to them. Copious extracts from his letter are given in the Archbishop' s 'Life' . But the passage in which Pusey explains the motives for his action is omitted' . It ran as follows:--
E. B. P. TO THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY.
Oct. 12, 1872.
... Allow me to explain the grounds on which I think that any tam–pering with the Athanasian Creed would produce a serious rent in or from the Established Church. It would be, of course, a concession to something, whether the objection be to the truths of faith as confessed in the Creed as being untrue or uncertain, or to the assertion that the belief in those truths of the Holy Trinity and in the Incarnation is essential to salvation. Probably, in the minds of most objectors, both objections are blended together. Scepticism as to truth generally is far more common than absolute unbelief, in any who are outwardly members of the Church. Such hold nothing or scarcely anything of revealed truth to be certainly true, and even if they think anything to be true, they do not hold the belief in it to be necessary to salvation. Truth is confessed in the other Creeds; nowhere except in the Athanasian Creed is it stated to be necessary to salvation in those who can have it. This necessity is stated as clearly in the simpler words, 'Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation: that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ,' as in those more strongly-worded forms upon which opponents most dwell.
The tampering, then, with the Athanasian Creed would in effect say to plain people, 'The Church of England does not hold the belief in the Holy Trinity or the Incarnation to be necessary to salvation, nor does it hold those truths, as set forth in the Athanasian Creed, to be certain.'
In a later passage he explains exactly who the authors of the division would be:--
'I used in a letter, upon which, I suppose, your Grace animadverts, the expression, " a rent in or from the Church," not wishing to express more clearly my fears as to a future, which I hoped might never be; but meaning by " a rent in the Church," a division of the Church, itself; by a " rent from it," the tearing away of its members to join some other body or bodies, whether the Greek Church, or the Old Catholics, or the Roman Church. But the rent, if made, would not be of our making. The responsibility would not lie with us, who are grateful to the. Church for having preserved to us the use and teaching of the Creed to which we are so much indebted, and who in all respects willingly acquiesced in the state of things, in which, by God' s providence [?we were placed], and who have never 'wished to bring about any changes in any of our formularies, which are the common birthright of us all. We should simply remain faithful to that which we have been taught from our youth, the expression and guide of the faith of our riper years, which the Church of England upheld when we devoted ourselves to the service of God in her. The rent would be caused, not by us--who should be cast out of our homes, who would have to sacrifice all the cherished hopes of our lives--but by those (whoever they may be) who would trample upon our consciences, and the consciences of the laity who are faithful to the old belief. I doubt not that, unless encouraged by those in high places, the tornado which has been raised would spend itself, and that the result of the agitation will only be a more intelligent appreciation of the Creed.'
The Archbishop' s reply' was to ask Pusey what kind of solution of the difficulty he would be likely to agree to; since an Explanatory Rubric seemed to find no favour with Convocation. Pusey answered that, with the exception of the proposal of an Explanatory Note, every suggestion that he had seen cast some slur on the Creed, and was therefore inadmissible. He expressed himself as not specially attached to the 'Note,' which the Oxford Pro–fessors had suggested, as he would prefer to state that the warning clauses were directed only against a culpable failure to believe. He therefore enclosed another formula, which he thought more satisfactory .
The meeting of the Committee of both Houses was fixed for December 3, and in preparation for it Bishop Wilberforce summoned a conference of clergy at Winchester House on November 27, which he invited Pusey to attend. Pusey was at first hopeless about it. He told the Bishop that it was a conflict of principles. He maintained that the Creed was hated by a party that did not think a definite faith to be 'necessary to salvation' in those who could have it, and who on that account considered the Creed to be uncharitable. 'We [think it] ... the truest charity, as it would be to warn people of a precipice. They think that there is no precipice about which to warn them.' Pusey was also afraid that any suggestion that could be made would only be used as if it were a concession to the principle of change, and be treated in the same way as the suggestion by the Oxford Professors of an Explanatory Rubric had been two years before. He told the Bishop that if he attended the meeting he would say, 'any–thing which would be considered as a compromise would seem to me to be giving up the whole question. The warning clauses must be either true or false. Since " it is necessary to everlasting salvation that a man believe rightly" the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation (else he believes in a different God and a different Being from our Redeemer Christ Jesus), then it is the truest charity to tell people so, and it would be unfaithfulness to their souls to withdraw the statement.'
Under these conditions he consented to attend the Con–ference. He felt that he must continue to offer, as a relief for scruples, some explanation of the clauses; and Liddon joined him in drawing up yet another form. It was sent to Newman and amended at his suggestion, and then forwarded to Bishop Wilberforce. The Meeting seems to have adopted this Explanatory Note; for Pusey writes to Newman the day after:--
E. B. P. TO THE REV. J. H. NEWMAN.
Nov. 28, 1872.
You will see that we have adopted one of your pencil alternatives.... The meeting yesterday for which I went to London looked hopefully. I have seen so little of Church of late, and he is so modest and reserved that I was happy to find him so defined and outspoken.
The Archbishop now saw that he must finally abandon all hope of removing the Creed from the Service of the Church, and he told the Dean of Westminster that he must adopt the next best practicable course. The Dean replied:--
'Would it not be possible to put forward a declaration which should express the real facts of the case, viz.--that the use of the Creed is left, not from any concurrence in its contents, but out of deference to the scruples of certain distinguished clergymen,--specifying, if desirable, the Regius Professor of Hebrew and the Ireland Professor of Exegesis at Oxford?'
On the Sunday after the Meeting at Winchester House, the first Sunday in Advent, November 30, Pusey preached before the University a sermon which he had been preparing for several weeks, and which dealt with the central point of all this controversy. It was an Advent sermon entitled 'The Responsibility of the Intellect in matters of Faith' . It passed from the thought of death, to Judgment, and especially to Judgment with regard to our relation to God' s Revelation of Himself. 'The thought that each shall have to give account for his " opinions" (as people call them), or the process by which he arrives at them, seems to them as strange an imagination as if the subject-matter were some proposition of pure mathematics.' He then passes in review the power of intellect, describing the various ways in which the intellect can sin and can intensify all other forms of sin, dwelling especially on the sinfulness of intellectual pride, and of intellectual injustice and error in judging the truths of Revelation. These sins of intellect he traces to the sources which naturally can produce them, whether moral or spiritual, whether they spring from a care–less life, or from 'mere inactivity of faith.' He then shows the great danger of these sins from the example of the Jews in our Lord' s day, who for reasons which He pointed out, rejected an unique opportunity of believing, and on that account were exposed to the Divine sentence of judgment. Failures to believe are as sinful as failures to obey in those who have the opportunity, although no one can venture to measure the exact responsibility of any individual soul. 'The Church has its long list of saints (he quotes the words); it has not inserted one name in the catalogue of the damned.' Then he proceeds to state the truths of the Athanasian Creed, their supreme impor–tance, and the value of the clauses 'which press upon us our own responsibility as to truth which God has made known to us' ; and in view of much of the tone of the Oxford of that day he concludes with a most earnest warning against the fashionable trifling in matters of vital moment.
The whole sermon is a very solemn and yet most tender justification of the 'warning clauses.' In view of the audience to which it was addressed and the controversy out of which it sprang, it is full of direct and pointed appeal. It was in print before it was delivered: and immediately after delivery was circulated with an elaborate and powerful note in reply to Bishop .Moberly' s strictures on the Creed, which he specially inserted in order to influence the meeting at Lambeth two days later.
The Committee of the two Houses of Convocation met at Lambeth on December 3. Bishop Wilberforce proposed the adoption of an Explanatory Note, or rather of a. Synodical Declaration, as from this time it was called, with regard to the warning clauses of the Creed. Every other form of 'relief' was in its turn suggested as an amendment, but only to be defeated on a division. Eventually the Bishop' s motion was carried, the terms of the Declaration being left for later consideration. 'Thanks,' writes Pusey to Liddon, 'for the cheering news of the Lambeth Conference, which gives good hope. I hope there will be many thanksgivings to God.'
A week later he left Oxford for a rest on the Continent. He would not delay his journey so as to join in the vote against Dean Stanley' s nomination as a Select Preacher at Oxford, on the ground, as he explained in a letter to the Times, dated 'Genoa, December 22,' that 'opposition would only aggravate the evil by enlisting the enthusiasm of the young.' At Genoa, he strained his chest when shouting to a child who was in danger of being run over. The strain caused a serious attack of bronchitis, followed by pneumonia, and for a time his condition was critical. On January 21, 1873, Dr. Acland was summoned by telegraph from Oxford. He found him in great danger, and very prostrate; but on the 27th was able to telegraph to a meeting of the Hebdomadal Council at Oxford, 'Dr. Pusey is out of danger.'
Meanwhile preparations had for some months been going on for a public meeting in London in defence of the Creeds
At Leeds, during the Church Congress in October, 1872, a numerous and influential committee had been appointed to organize such a gathering. It was eventually held in St. James' Hall, on Friday, January 31. On the same day that Dr. Acland was able to send such reassuring news to Oxford, Pusey had dictated in a whisper to his son Philip, who was with him at Genoa, a letter, which he desired. Liddon to read to that meeting. Throughout the whole evening the greatest enthusiasm had prevailed. But when Liddon rose to speak, and again when he mentioned Pusey' s name, a tumult of applause followed which will never be forgotten by any who witnessed it. The whole vast assemblage rose to their feet to do them honour, and renewed their cheers again and again. Pusey' s letter ran as follows:--
E. B. P. TO REV. H. P. LIDDON, D.D.
Genoa, Piazza Galeazzo Alessi, Jan. 27, 1873.
Words dictated from a very sick bed must be very true. Yes. I wish to express through you to the meeting how unchanging through sickness or health is my sense of the intensity of the crisis with which we were threatened all last year, and out of which the Church of England has, by God' s mercy, been brought. However men might disguise the question themselves, I could not conceal from myself that the real issue was, whether the Church of England should virtually deny that the faith in the Holy Trinity and in the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ was essential to salvation in those who could have it. As to the remarks of some in authority as to the line to which our convictions independently led us, they cannot have understood the strength of our convictions. It was no 'threat' to give up, in my case, the cherished aspirations of a past sixty years to serve God in the ministry of the Church of England, the home and the centre of one' s deepest interests, to go forth not knowing whither one went. It was like a moral death; but with my convictions of the issue of that question I dared no more hesitate than about being guilty of parricide. God be thanked for all His mercies.
During the many days of Pusey' s very slow recovery, Convocation was deciding upon the form which the Synodical Declaration should take. All was settled before he returned to England in the following May, but he still heard echoes of the controversy during the days of his convalescence.
REV. J. H. NEWMAN TO E. B. P.
The Oratory, Feb. 15, 1873.
As you may fancy, you have been a great deal in my thoughts lately, and I should have written to you, except that I felt you could be sure of it, and had not much or anything to say besides. Thank Philip very much for me for his acceptable letter.
I congratulate you on the present prospects of the Athanasian Creed in the Anglican Formularies. I have cursorily read the proposed notice of the Convocation Committee; and it seemed to me un-exceptionable.
Of course it won' t answer the purpose of the Liberals, whose quarrel with it goes far beyond their professed difficulty.
Pusey was unable to answer, but Newman heard of his slow progress from William Pusey, who feared lest the anxieties of controversy would retard his brother' s recovery.
REV. J. H. NEWMAN TO REV. W. B. PUSEY.
March 6, 1873.
I do hope the Athanasian Creed matter is settled, at least for our time, for that must agitate him immensely. I am sure it would me. I think a mere sense of tenderness to one so great a benefactor to the Church of England as your brother, should make a man like Tait suspend his hand.
It was not till after Easter that Pusey himself was able to write. The letter shows Pusey' s employments during the leisure of recovery from a serious illness.
E. B. P. TO REV. J. H. NEWMAN.
Genoa, Easter Tuesday, [Apr. 15], 1873.
All Easter blessings. I knew that your love would follow me at all times and under all circumstances. God reward you for it.
By God' s blessing and mercy, I am able to work again, so I have completed (as far as I could here) the Commentary on Haggai and (Zechariah being completed all but the Introduction) am within eight verses of the close of Malachi. Now, being allowed to be in England early in May, I am leaving Genoa, though I feel doubtful whether my chest is strong enough to lecture yet. Still God allows me to go [on] with the Commentary without hindrance, thanks be to His mercy. Now I want to ask you whether you think I have overstated the doctrine of invincible ignorance in the Sermon I sent you ? You have perhaps seen the line which the assailants of the Warning Clauses take of declaring our interpretation to be 'non-natural,' which is a clever weapon. But though they might say this of any private opinion of ours, they could not say it if it should be the received sense in which these clauses are taken throughout the Roman Church. For those among whom the Creed originated, and who have directed its use by all their Clergy and by all who are bound to say the Hours, must needs know in what sense they take it.
You have answered my question as far as the Synodical Declaration goes, as you thought it to contain nothing amiss. And this is the main point. But since some of the assailants of the Creed profess to approve of what I have myself written and have given it an undue prominence, but accused it of being a non-natural interpretation of the Creed, it would be satisfactory to be able to say to them privately, 'Without saying anything about this or that expression, the inter–pretation advocated is in the main the interpretation acknowledged in the Roman Church.'
I do not see how the doctrine of invincible ignorance, combined with that of the universal gift of grace, can come short of that interpretation of St. Peter' s words that God has His own elect amid whatsoever blindness or ignorance or error, and that millions may be saved by the precious Blood of Christ, who never heard His Name or mis-believed about Him.
The meeting of Convocation is not till somewhere in May. I can give no direction abroad, as I have no certain stopping-place; but I should be very glad to give some answer, without quoting you.
REV. J. H. NEWMAN TO E. B. P.
The Oratory, April 27, 1873.
In answer to your question, I fear I can say nothing satisfactory to you. I do not know where to look for such a Catholic limitation of the anathemas of the Athanasian Creed, as you wish to find, and for what seems an obvious reason, which I will explain.
Our writers either hold that faith in the Holy Trinity is necessary necessitate medii or necessitate precepti--in neither case does the question of invincible ignorance come into consideration. If necessi–tate medii there is no place for invincible ignorance--just as no invincible ignorance can avail to put out a conflagration instead of a fire engine. If necessitate precepti, as I should myself hold, then the very word preceptum implies the formal presentation of the Creed to the individual for his acceptance, and thus here again there can be no ignorance, vincible or invincible, for the reason that it is always directly presented to him as being one of the conditions of admittance into the Church, so that every one who is made a Christian is made acquainted with the Creed. Indeed, the very idea of a 'Creed' in itself excludes the notion of ignorance altogether, it being the very tessera or ticket of Church fellowship. As Baptism is necessary for salvation as a mean, so is faith in the Holy Trinity as a condition. So that there cannot be any escape from culpable unbelief in those who refuse to accept the doctrine. I don' t see how there is any 'non-natural' explanation in this; nor does it oblige us to pronounce absolutely on the future state of any one, for we cannot tell what takes place on a deathbed.
You also ask, whether you have gone too far in what you say of invincible ignorance. I think not, supposing what you say be coupled with the proviso that we can as little decide absolutely that a man is in invincible ignorance, as that he is not. No one has a right to be sure that he is in invincible ignorance. I think I have heard Keble say, 'Well, all I can say is, that, if the Roman Communion is the One True Church, I do not know it, I do not know it.' Indeed, you have implied this spirit of godly fear in what you say against levity in theological inquiry.
At last, on May 10, 1873, the question was settled. The Creed was retained in use and unmutilated; but both Houses of Convocation accepted the following Synodical Declaration with regard to its warning clauses:--
'For the removal of doubts and to prevent disquietude in the use of the Creed commonly called the Creed of St. Athanasius, this Synod doth solemnly declare
'1. That the confession of our Christian faith, commonly called the Creed of St. Athanasius, doth not make any addition to the faith as contained in Holy Scripture, but warneth against errors which from time to time have arisen in the Church of Christ.
'2. That as Holy Scripture in divers places doth promise life to them that believe, and declare the condemnation of them that believe not, so doth the Church in this confession declare the necessity for all who would be in a state of salvation of holding fast the Catholic faith, and the great peril of rejecting the same. Wherefore the warnings in this confession of faith are to be understood no otherwise than the like warnings in Holy Scripture, for we must receive God' s threatenings, even as His promises, in such wise as they are generally set forth in Holy Writ. Moreover the Church doth not herein pronounce judgment on any particular person or persons, God alone being the Judge of all.'
Throughout this controversy, as also in the 'matter of 'Essays and Reviews,' Pusey had found more support from Bishop Wilberforce than from any other occupant on the Episcopal bench. He knew him far too well to sup–pose that the mistrust which the Bishop had felt and expressed in the early years of his episcopate had given way to a state of complete agreement and sympathy: but he had abundant tokens that the Bishop had materially altered his attitude towards him. In the eventful years which had elapsed since 1845 Pusey had been able again and again to justify his position by the steadfastness of his loyalty in situations of no ordinary delicacy and difficulty; and the Bishop had gradually come to see that there was no evidence for his early suspicions, and to recognize the sincerity and depth of Pusey' s character, and the value of his work for the Church. If Stanley attributed the defeat of his wishes with regard to the Athanasian Creed to Pusey and Liddon, he would have also allowed that the action of Bishop Wilberforce had not a little contributed to the same result. Humanly speaking Pusey might have had great hope for the future with such an ally among the Bishops. But their common work in this world was over. The news of the Bishop' s sudden death' a few weeks after the close of this controversy was a great grief. When he had passed away, Pusey remembered him only as he had been in his later days.
E. B. P. TO P. K. PUSEY, ESQ.
Malvern, July 25, 1873.
It is indeed a grievous loss. He was always full of kindness and a great check to persecutors. How strange to be in that world, and on the way to the Judgment throne, without knowing death, except that he found that he had died, because he was not in the body!
At this time of his life, many other gaps were caused by death in the wide circle of Pusey' s friends, but of course no one of them was of such moment to the Church as this. His letters to Newman and the replies frequently mention the passing away of friends whom they had known together many years before--James Hope Scott, Henry Wilberforce, and Jelf were among the number. To the same period belongs also his reconciliation with his old college friend Hook. They had dropped their correspondence after the difficulties at St. Saviour' s, Leeds. Hook was now Dean of Chichester, separated both in time and space from the troubles which had perplexed and distressed him. His brother was dying in London, and was daily visited by Liddon. In acknowledging this kindness the Dean takes the opportunity of asking another favour:--
THE DEAN OF CHICHESTER TO REV. H. P. LIDDON, D.D.
July 28, 1873.
Can you add to your favours? Can you tell that saint whom England persecuted, our dearly beloved Pusey, that I should like, as I am passing out of this world, to be permitted to renew the friendship with him, which in my youthful days was my joy and crown of rejoicing? No one prayed more earnestly for him than I did when he was almost despaired of on the continent. No one rejoiced more entirely than I did, when he returned to England recruited in health.
Pusey was truly glad to find that he had lived down another of the sad misunderstandings of which the years between 1840 and 1860 had been so fruitful. He wrote immediately on receiving Hook' s message:--
E. B. P. TO THE DEAN OF CHICHESTER.
Sidmouth House, Malvern, Aug. 1, 1873.
Thank you much for your loving message which Liddon conveyed to me, and for your loving prayers while I was so ill at Genoa. God heard them, and I can now walk about (though my breath is still weak) and write my Commentary.
What a long life of friendship it has been since 1819, when I used to come down from my garret to your rooms in Peckwater, fifty-four years ago! Who could have imagined what lay before us? I am so sorry that some whom I sent to St. Saviour’s worried you. I always studied you, though I was mis-inforrrmed in two cases.
I am grieved to hear that you are suffering, and that your brother is passing away. Death has swept away more of those whom I love in these last few months than for a long time before. I need not ask you to remember me, since you do this so earnestly, as I you, during our remaining pilgrimage.
God be with you now and ever.
E. B. PUSEY.