Dr. H. P. Liddon, contemporary and biographer of Pusey, speaking of this letter in which the Dr. Pusey lashes out at those who would place their partisan political agendas above the formularies of the Church of England, calls it “a document which, notwithstanding its studied respect and moderation, is the severest condemnation of an attempt to substitute the prejudices of a party for the formularies of the Church of England.”
The letter itself acknowledges the existence of some general tendency toward Rome. However, he maintains that this tendency has causes other than the Tracts. In order to discourage the tendencies by some Anglicans toward the Church of Rome, Pusey pleas that the negative language used to describe the Oxford writers by some of the Bishops be tempered.
The letter is one of the most striking of Pusey’s correspondences. Rather than losing itself in details, it is more concerned with the statement of principles. No previous task of the kind to which he set his hand in this case had been so delicate or so difficult. Never had he written with so keen a sense of urgent and increasing danger.
- Title: A Letter to His Grace The Archbishop of Canterbury on Some Circumstances Connected with the Present Crisis in the English Church
- Author: E. B. Pusey
- Publisher: John Henry Parker
- Publication Date: 1842
- Pages: 166
About E. B. Pusey
Pusey, Edward (1800–1882) was leader in the Anglo–Catholic Oxford movement within the Church of England.
Pusey was Regius Professor of Hebrew and canon of Christ Church at Oxford. He shared with other brilliant young Oxford conservatives concern about the rising tide of biblical and theological liberalism and the reform spirit rampant in Britain during the late 1820s and 1830s. He contributed to reviving a “dead” High Church orthodoxy by stimulating knowledge of the early church fathers and of non–Puritan Anglicans of the seventeenth century. Their teaching had been obscured, in his estimation, by Deism, Broad Church theological indifference, and the evangelicals’ concentration upon God’s work alone in justification and the experience of that. Pusey began to warn against the dangers of the new German theology, which he had studied firsthand. He began in late 1833 to contribute to the Tracts for the Times edited by John Henry Newman and to make the Tracts significant expressions of Anglo– Catholic teaching. He established a residence for theological students and a society for professors, tutors, and graduates in order to spread his principles. In 1836, he commenced editing translations of early Christian writers under the title The Library of the Fathers, which became a lifetime project, the last of the forty–eight volumes being published after his death. He was the first person of prominence to identify himself publicly with the movement, causing “Puseyism” to become the sometimes popular designation for it.
Because of an 1843 sermon, “The Holy Eucharist,” he was suspended two years from preaching at Oxford for the Romish views expressed, an event that contributed to the conversion of Newman and others to Roman Catholicism. Pusey, however, remained steadfastly within the Church of England. He had learned to bear much sorrow in his private life through strict discipline and such practices as the wearing of a hair shirt. Nor did he share Newman’s view that officials were to be obeyed absolutely. Pusey’s strength helped retain others. He was instrumental in 1845 in establishing an order of sisters in London. This was evidence of his personal charity and of new vitality among Anglo–Catholics in reaching the poor, as well as of the Church’s ability to accept Anglo–Catholic concepts. In 1846, he resumed his university preaching, taking up theologically where he had left off. Later, a new wave of liberalism in the church provided Pusey his final thrusts of public activity against the influence of Benjamin Jowett and biblical higher criticism.