16 September Pusey

Edward Pusey, born 1800 as son of a Viscount, was sent to Oriel college in Oxford and so almost inadvertently, became  a member of the Tractarian movement. A group that in the middle of the nineteenth century stood for a revival of the doctrine of the Anglican church. The name Tractarian is simply taken from the Tracts (pamphlet we would say) that the Oxford group wrote, to convey their thoughts to the general public.
A doctrinaire question, but it got the public then in a uproar, as I discovered when trying to find out what exactly Pusey has done, to get in the list of saints. 

“Pusey was the Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford, and a canon of Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford, from 1828 until his death (1882). He wrote two of the Oxford Tracts (on Fasting and on Baptism), and in 1843 preached a sermon before the university on the Eucharist:  that got him suspended from university preaching for two years. This episode gained publicity for the Tractarian Movement, and greatly increased the sales of the Tracts. 18.000 copies, containing his sermon, were sold in that year". (Wikipedia)

So you might say:  
This is all about some long-forgotten doctrinal points, why should we now still read about it?

Because, as I found out, this doctrinal matter changed fundamentally the way we now-adays celebrate our services  in the church.

 And also, though it was an internal Anglican Church issue, it reached out much farther to theologians of other Protestant churches.  I even found a letter on Puseyism in "De kerkbode" of the South African Gereformeerde kerk! 
I also found an example of that Tract (that contains the sermon that  got Pusey suspended), on the Internet and tried to read it…

Well, all I can say is that I am glad that the sermons in our time, are not done in this way anymore. The Tract that contained that sermon was specifically printed so that people who had not heard the sermon, could read and understand what this actual content was.
Kiefer states that in the Anglican church (around 1830): “On most Sundays, the Sunday morning service in most parishes consisted of Morning Prayer (one Reading from the Psalms, one Old Testament Reading, one New Testament Reading, interspersed with Prayers and Hymns, […])” 

On the development of the Tractarians, Kiefer also states: "Then, in the 1830's, several lecturers at Oxford University, reading their copies of the Book of Common Prayer (1662), noticed that this was not the intended state of affairs. […] In every way it was clear that the compilers of the Prayer Book had intended the Liturgy to be the principal service on every Sunday and Feast Day. So the lecturers got busy and wrote a series of pamphlets explaining this and various related points to their readers. They called the pamphlets Tracts For the Times, By Residents in Oxford, and the public referred to them as The Oxford Tracts”. (Later it became known as the Oxford movement and  its adherents as Anglo-Catholics.)

And then, what with the sermon of Pusey and some more publishing of diverse books, and what with some vicars who had read the scholarly theological and historical content of the pamphlets and agreed with them, and so had started to introduce the changes in the services they (tract- writers) pleaded for, it suddenly seemed to the public as if the Tractarians in reality were trying to re-introduce Roman Catholicism in the Anglican church.
They were not and wrote even more books to show proof that they were not, but it seemed to the British people that they were. That public, of course, became even more convinced when John Newman, study friend of Pusey, converted in 1845 to the RC faith and even became a RC cardinal-deacon. After all, Newman had written 24 of the Tracts and had edited them all in book format.

Kiefer again states: “It must not be supposed that the Tractarians were concerned only with a renewed emphasis on the sacraments. They were instrumental in stirring up the Church's concern for the welfare, both spiritual and material, of the working classes. The building of factories had flooded many areas with workers who were without churches to minister to them. The Tractarians built churches in these areas, and in slum areas, and staffed them with dedicated priests”.
Stephen Neill, bishop of Tinnevelly, and acknowledged historian of the history of the Anglican church, says, when looking back over the period of te Tractarians, “The Anglo-Catholics triumphed; but we must be under no illusions as to the price the church paid for their triumph”. And then he goes on: “the point at which the Oxford movement made its great and permanent contribution to the life of the English church [is this]: the Oxford men brought back to life the forgotten doctrine that the church is the body of Christ, that the life it lives is His life and that, outside of the divine authority that He has given it, it should neither desire nor seek for any other authority.”

Looking back over this admittedly short review of the influence of the Tractarians, I have still not found out why Pusey is in the list of saints; he did excellent work in the cholera epidemic in 1866 (but many more did and yet they did not became a saint). The page on Pusey house where the essence of his personal library is still kept, says of him: His chief influence was that of a preacher and a spiritual adviser.

The following is an example of his prayer  (much more understandable than his sermon!)

Good Jesus, Fountain of Love,
Fill us with thy love.
Absorb us into thy love;
Compass us with thy love,
That we may see all things in the light of thy love,
Receive all things as the token of thy love,
Speak of all things in words breathing of thy love,
Win through thy love others for thy love,
Be kindled day by day with a new glow of thy love,
Until we be fitted to enter into thine everlasting love,
To adore thy love and love to adore thee, our God and all.
Even so come, O Lord Jesus.

And to that I say: Amen

Grada

 

Physical source: 
Anglicanism, Stephen Neill;  fourth edition, 1976 revised and edited; 1977 published by Mowbray and Co, Oxford

  • Created on .