Pusey’s renowned exposition of the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist. The basis for this volume is the 600 plus notes comprising the author’s sermon, “The Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.” The sermon was preached in Christ Church to the faculty and students of Oxford University in 1853. It followed a two-year suspension from preaching altogether and a ten-year suspension from preaching of the Eucharist specifically, leveled against Pusey after a poorly received 1843 sermon on the Eucharist was denounced as “Romish.”
Pusey said in regards to this sermon: “The chief object of my sermon, ‘The Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist,’ was to maintain clearly and distinctly the doctrine of the Church of England upon one point, viz. ‘the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ under the form of bread and wine.’ This doctrine I endeavored to set forth with all the clearness that I could, out of Holy Scripture, and out of the teaching of the Fathers, as the nearest and best interpretation of the mind of God in Holy Scripture.”
E. B. Pusey(1800–1882), leader in the Anglo–Catholic Oxford movement within the Church of England
Pusey was Regius Professor of Hebrew and canon of Christ Church at Oxford. He shared with other brilliant young Oxford conservatives concern about the rising tide of biblical and theological liberalism and the reform spirit rampant in Britain during the late 1820s and 1830s. He contributed to reviving a “dead” High Church orthodoxy by stimulating knowledge of the early church fathers and of non–Puritan Anglicans of the seventeenth century. Their teaching had been obscured, in his estimation, by Deism, Broad Church theological indifference, and the evangelicals’ concentration upon God’s work alone in justification and the experience of that. Pusey began to warn against the dangers of the new German theology, which he had studied firsthand. He began in late 1833 to contribute to the Tracts for the Times edited by John Henry Newman and to make the Tracts significant expressions of Anglo– Catholic teaching. He established a residence for theological students and a society for professors, tutors, and graduates in order to spread his principles. In 1836, he commenced editing translations of early Christian writers under the title The Library of the Fathers, which became a lifetime project, the last of the forty–eight volumes being published after his death. He was the first person of prominence to identify himself publicly with the movement, causing “Puseyism” to become the sometimes popular designation for it.
Because of an 1843 sermon, “The Holy Eucharist,” he was suspended two years from preaching at Oxford for the Romish views expressed, an event that contributed to the conversion of Newman and others to Roman Catholicism. Pusey, however, remained steadfastly within the Church of England. He had learned to bear much sorrow in his private life through strict discipline and such practices as the wearing of a hair shirt. Nor did he share Newman’s view that officials were to be obeyed absolutely. Pusey’s strength helped retain others. He was instrumental in 1845 in establishing an order of sisters in London. This was evidence of his personal charity and of new vitality among Anglo–Catholics in reaching the poor, as well as of the Church’s ability to accept Anglo–Catholic concepts. In 1846, he resumed his university preaching, taking up theologically where he had left off. Later, a new wave of liberalism in the church provided Pusey his final thrusts of public activity against the influence of Benjamin Jowett and biblical higher criticism.