Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 47.djvu/62

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Augustine's religious autobiography. There were forty-eight volumes, in the whole series, the last volumes appearing after Pusey's death.

Pusey's sermons, however, were even more influential than his literary labours. He preached wherever he was asked to go—in the university pulpit, at Christ Church, in London, and at the seaside in summer holidays. He had certainly neither the voice, nor the style, nor any of the gestures of an orator; nor had he the brilliancy and the lucidity of a popular preacher; but the intense reality of his language, his profound earnestness and spirituality, and the searchingly practical character of his teaching, compelled the respectful attention even of the unsympathetic. Sara Coleridge wrote of his preaching: ‘He is certainly, to my feelings, more impressive than any one else in the pulpit, though he has not one of the graces of oratory. His discourse is generally a rhapsody, describing with infinite repetition and accumulativeness the wickedness of sin, the worthlessness of earth, and the blessedness of heaven. He is as still as a statue all the time he is uttering it, looks as white as a sheet, and is as monotonous in delivery as possible. While listening to him you do not seem to see and hear a preacher, but to have visible before you a most earnest and devout spirit, striving to carry out in this world a high religious theory’ (Memoir of Sara Coleridge, i. 332–3).

Pusey's position in the church and university compelled him to take a leading share in the public defence of the church and of the ‘Oxford movement’ within it. Thus in the early days of 1836 he was one of the most prominent opponents of the appointment of Dr. Renn Dickson Hampden [q.v.] to the chief professorial chair of theology at Oxford, and issued two pamphlets controverting Hampden's theological views. In April of the same year he published the first of many defences of tractarianism in an ‘Earnest Remonstrance’ against a pamphlet called ‘The Pope's Pastoral Letter,’ which charged the tractarians with unfaithfulness to the English church. Pusey only answered this pamphlet because it was currently, but inaccurately, supposed to be from the pen of Dr. Arnold, whose notorious article on the ‘Oxford Malignants’ appeared almost simultaneously in the ‘Edinburgh Review.’ Pusey argued that if the Oxford tract-writers taught doctrines peculiar to the Roman catholic portion of the Christian church, they did so in the company of the best theologians of the Anglican church. Similarly, in 1839, Dr. Bagot, the bishop of Oxford, was so perplexed by the attitude of Pusey that he requested him to make some form of declaration which would clearly show his loyalty to the English church. This Pusey did, in the form of a long ‘Letter to the Bishop of Oxford.’ He tried to show in the case of each of the Thirty-nine Articles, which had been quoted against the Oxford writers, that its true meaning was clearly distinct from the ‘Roman’ doctrine which he was supposed to hold, as well as from that popular ‘ultra protestant’ interpretation which his accusers had placed on it. He claimed that such a via media was no weak compromise, but the ‘old faith’ of the primitive church ‘after whose model our own was reformed.’ Again, in 1841, he identified himself with Newman when the heads of houses condemned the interpretation which Newman had put upon the Thirty-nine Articles in ‘Tract No. XC.’ Privately he did his utmost to prevent any condemnation of his friend by the bishop of Oxford, and he also published a long ‘Letter to Dr. Jelf,’ in which he contended that Newman's interpretation of the articles was not ‘only an admissible, but the most legitimate’ interpretation of them. Again, in 1842, he addressed a letter to Howley, archbishop of Canterbury, in the hope of stopping the storm of condemnation which the English bishops were directing against the ‘Tracts’ and their writers. He especially dreaded the effect that such charges might have upon Newman's relation to the English church. In this letter he acknowledged that a tendency to conversion to Rome was growing, but declined to credit the ‘Tracts’ with that effect; its real cause (he said) lay in the evil condition of the church of England, which was far from irremediable.

In a few years Pusey had become practically the leader in the Oxford revival. From 1841 Newman was much less in Oxford than before, and Keble rarely left his country parish. Pusey was always in Oxford, and was still on good terms with his ecclesiastical superiors. His position was greatly strengthened by his condemnation for heresy in June 1843 by the vice-chancellor. On 14 May he had preached a sermon at Christ Church, which was afterwards published under the title of ‘The Holy Eucharist: a Comfort to the Penitent.’ Its main object was to show that one who is truly penitent for his sins could find the most solid comfort in the holy eucharist, both as a commemorative sacrifice wherein he pleads Christ's one meritorious sacrifice for all his sins, and also as a sacrament wherein he receives spiritual food and sustenance. But this simple teaching was wrapped up in the language of the early fathers of the church, to which many of his hearers were suspicious strangers. One of