Dr. Pusey represents hundreds, perhaps thousands, of English Protestants who have arrived at the conclusion that the claims of the Catholic Church on their obedience, so far as in a general way these can be presented to human reason cannot be opposed by any method which their right judgment approves.
They still hesitate to submit, influenced by subordinate difficulties and reluctances of more or less importance, but supported in their hesitation, one and all, by one particular delusion. They imagine that " both Churches have erred " more or less from the straight path ; that great good is to be expected from the fusion of their antagonistic elements ; and that, although Anglicans are bound to promote the union, still being received upon equal terms' they will bring into the Roman Church such a healthful influence as in fact to justify their schism. This being supposed, they easily believe that they have quite a mission to remain Anglicans, to spread the infection at home, and so make the inoculation more effective abroad when it shall take place. As to the prevalence of this theory, I defy contradiction ; I write from knowledge.
Now, there may be perhaps fifty shades of opinion in the body referred to ; yet, practically, Dr. Pusey represents them. And what is his position ? Against the dogmatic decrees of the Church he can maintain no objection. He has, therefore, gone through a process of reasoning almost unknown to the converts of former ages, and still very rare. The general evidences of the Divine mission of the Church are fitly addressed to the understanding of those outside, in the hope that they will earnestly seek grace, and, obtaining it, submit themselves to same. So it happens everyday, with the souls who simply desire to obey God each moment, without any reservation as to their own consistency in time past. Such persons, generally, before they have nearly finished their roll of arguments, find themselves on their knees. If, however, they should go over all the great doctrinal questions before they submit, it may be quite as well, in order to their subsequent safety. They still have much to learn, and they enter the Church of God to be taught, not to teach.
But the position of Dr. Pusey and those whom he represents, is this ;—they are ready to enter the Roman Church if it be false ; not, if it be true.
If it be the fulness of God, dispensing His grace to mankind, having everything to give to those outside, and nothing to receive from them except penitent souls, then it is the true Church, then it necessarily follows that there are many things easily understood by those within it, of which those outside are ipso facto incapable of judging. It is a thing absolutely sui gensris.
If, on the other hand, all its doctrines and practices can be as well understood by those outside as by those within, then is it a merely human institution, and considering its high pretensions, much more might be added which through pressure I omit. —Now it is on this last supposition that Dr. Pusey and his followers have invited a parley with the Catholic Church, on the supposition that it is entirely subject to their criticism. As to the connection between dogma and devotion I believe I am safe in judging that devotion is the theology of the heart while it is " with the heart that man believes to salvation ;" corrupt devotion argues corrupt theology, and to impeach prevalent devotion, is to impeach prevalent belief. Dr. Fumy and the large body which he ably represents, contemplate entering the Catholic Church on strictly Protestant principles. It is much to be feared that they will not have been the first to do so. However, this is not the result to be expected from the very unfortunate turn which the present discussion has taken, it is rather to be supposed that the party in question will rest satisfied for the present with the confirmation they have obtained for their peculiar theory, which consists in two things. First, they have been empanelled as a competent jury to decide on the most intimate questions of a devout Catholic life. Secondly, they have been intrusted with a secret, unknown to Catholics themselves, viz., that there exists a wide variance within the Chereh on matters of devotion. I, at all events, address myself decidedly to them, and tell them that the present status of the discussion is well calculated to make them stay where they are, if they are willing to take a temporary shelter under ill advised argumentation. But not believing this to be the case, I implore of their venerable leader and all those whose views I have imperfectly sketched, to soar above these earth-born mists and treat this as the last temptation in an arduous and painful course.
[Rev. Francis H. Nash, A.M., son of Rev. Dr. Nash & Mrs. F. H. Nash was himself, a convert to Rome]