NO one who desires the union of Christendom after its many and long-standing divisions, can have any other feeling than joy, my dear Pusey, at finding from your recent Volume, that you see your way to make definite proposals to us for effecting that great object, and are able to lay down the basis and conditions on which you could co-operate in advancing it. It is not necessary that we should concur in the details of your scheme, or in the principles which it involves, in order to welcome the important fact, that, with your personal knowledge of the Anglican body, and your experience of its composition and tendencies, you consider the time to be come when you and your friends may, without imprudence, turn your minds to the contemplation of such an enterprise. Even were you an individual member of that Church, a watchman upon a high tower in a metropolis of religious opinion, we should naturally listen with interest to what you had to report of the state of the sky and the progress of the night, what stars were mounting up or what clouds gathering,—what were the prospects of the three great parties which Anglicanism contains within it, and what was just now the action upon them respectively of the politics and science of the time. You do not go into these matters; but the step you have taken is evidently the measure and the issue of the view which you have formed of them all.
However, you are not a mere individual; from early youth you have devoted yourself to the Established Church, and, after between forty and fifty years of unremitting labour in its service, your roots and your branches stretch out through every portion of its large territory. You, more than any one else alive, have been the present and untiring agent by whom a great work has been effected in it; and, far more than is usual, you have received in your lifetime, as well as merited, the confidence of your brethren. You cannot speak merely for yourself; your antecedents, your existing influence, are a pledge to us, that what you may determine will be the determination of a multitude. ... There is no one anywhere,—among ourselves, in your own body, or, I suppose, in the Greek Church,—who can affect so large a circle of men, so virtuous, so able, so learned, so zealous, as come, more or less, under your influence; and I cannot pay them a greater compliment than to tell them they ought all to be Catholics, nor do them a more affectionate service than to pray that they may one day become such. Nor can I address myself to an act more pleasing, as I trust, to the Divine Lord of the Church, or more loyal and dutiful to His Vicar on earth, than to attempt, however feebly, to promote so great a consummation.
I know the joy it would give those conscientious men, of whom I am speaking, to be one with ourselves. I know how their hearts spring up with a spontaneous transport at the very thought of union; and what yearning is theirs after that great privilege, which they have not, communion with the see of Peter, and its present, past, and future. I conjecture it by what I used to feel myself, while yet in the Anglican Church. I recollect well what an outcast I seemed to myself, when I took down from the shelves of my library the volumes of St. Athanasius or St. Basil, and set myself to study them; and how, on the contrary, when at length I was brought into Catholic communion, I kissed them with delight, with a feeling that in them I had more than all that I had lost; and, as though I were directly addressing the glorious saints, who bequeathed them to the Church, how I said to the inanimate pages, "You are now mine, and I am now yours, beyond any mistake." Such, I conceive, would be the joy of the persons I speak of, if they could wake up one morning, and find themselves rightfully possessed of Catholic traditions and hopes, without violence to their own sense of duty; and, certainly, I am the last man to say that such violence is in any case lawful, that the claims of conscience are not paramount, or that any one may overleap what he deliberately holds to be God's command, in order to make his path easier for him or his heart lighter.