Novel Teaching


From the Spiritual Letters of Edward Bouverie Pusey

August 30 [1879].

I am truly sorry for the unwisdom which you tell me of. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin originally meant the taking of her soul into heaven. I forget when it began to be taught that the body too was taken. Some of the clergy seem to be vying with one another, who should puzzle their people most. Faith will have a hard struggle to maintain its ground. It has already. The heresy of Universalism is, I fear, making progress. Our Blessed Lord says, “When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find the Faith on the earth?” i.e. not faith in Him, as a virtue in individuals, but the Catholic Faith which He left as a deposit with His Church. Our duty surely is then to impress on our people the great truths of the Faith, so that by God’s grace they may sink deep in their hearts. This we did some forty-five years ago. And God prospered it. One of dear John Keble’s simple earnest sermons woud do more good to the soul than any sermon about the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. The great truth which His Apostles, as commissioned by Him, set before people’s eyes was our Lord, God and Man, crucified for us, and at the Right Hand of God, in that ineffable Glory, making Intercession for us. Of course this spread out into all the glorious truths of the Athanasian Creed. He himself was the Center of their thoughts, their faith, their devotion, their practice. Now people’s minds are taken off from those glorious truths, to be taught about these lesser things, or worse still about birettas; and the people are alienated from us by things about which there is a good deal of pedantry. Why should people say ‘Mass’ instead of the Holy Eucharist? I do not say that your clergyman does, but very many do. They might have gone far to Catholicize England, if they would have taught as dear John Keble did, without whom they very probably would not have taught at all. Now they only strengthen a party.

Practically there is nothing to be done but by prayer. You would do best to tell your clergyman, how these novelties puzzle you, and if you like, you could show him this letter.

God bless you.

E.B. Pusey

E.B. Pusey, in full Edward Bouverie Pusey, (born August 22, 1800, Pusey, Berkshire, England—died September 16, 1882, Ascot Priory, Berkshire), English Anglican theologian, scholar, and a leader of the Oxford movement, which sought to revive in Anglicanism the High Church ideals of the later 17th-century church.

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