There have been two attempts to 'rediscover Pusey' in my scholarly lifetime, and both volumes contain essays of great interest; but he continues to want the attention given to his fellow Oxford Movement colleagues, Newman and Keble. It is hopeless to suppose that he could ever garner the acres of papers and gallons of ink expended on the Blessed John Henry Newman - who was, after all, one of the great doctors of the Catholic faith, and a man whose life and writings continue to inspire millions - but the neglect of Pusey is interesting. Newman can be, and has been, co-opted to the cause of those who wish to adapt the 'faith once given' to the times in which they live, and who are happy to ignore Newman's life-long antipathy to their kind in order so to do; this is not possible with Edward Bouverie Pusey. Pusey is indigestible material for the contemporary modish Christian sensibility, even as he is for those who like their clergymen to reflect contemporary mores. He has been criticised for everything from his treatment of his wife and children, through to his opposition to university reform, and his insistence on the reality of damnation; he was the very model of a Victorian clergyman, and as that model is out of fashion and likely so to remain, so is Pusey. Remaining, as he he did, in the Church of England, he wants the support and reverence which Newman has always attracted from those who followed him across the Tiber; and the modern Church of England makes but little of him, perhaps because it would find his legacy difficult to reconcile with the direction it has felt compelled to take. Yet he remains one of the giants of Anglican history, and his sermons repay serious attention.

It is, perhaps, another reflection of the times in which we live, that substantial sermons tend now to be confined to what Pusey would have called 'Nonconformist circles', because they are needed as much now as they were then; our limited attention span might, with utility, be extended by the expository sermon. Pusey was a master of this mode of preaching. During, and after his lifetime, his sermons were printed and sold well, although they have long been out of print.  As an aid to understanding a man who devoted his life to the service of God, the sermons have their part to play. For the next few weeks, it is proposed to devote some time to Pusey's sermons which, it is suggested, retain their power to provide spiritual nourishment - albeit of a variety modern sensibilities might find strong meat.

 

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