Edward Bouverie Pusey was one of the leading voices of the Oxford Movement, the greatly influential catholic revival in the Church of England in the nineteenth century. In anticipation of his feast day (today, 18 September), I spent some time over the weekend perusing a book entitled The Mind of the Oxford Movement, edited by Owen Chadwick. Great stuff, timely and challenging; in fact, I had intended to simply post a short excerpt from one of Pusey's sermons, but I couldn't make up my mind. In consequence, I'll be sharing a few selections here over the next few days. To begin, here is Pusey speaking of "the hidden life":
As this hidden life is obtained by deadness to the world - "ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God" - so, by that deadness, is it to be cherished, maintained, perfected. Death to the world is life to God; the life in God deadens to the world. By Baptism we were made partakers of Christ's Death, that we might henceforth share His Life ... The less we live for things outward, the stronger burns our inward life. The more we live amid the distractions of the world, the less vivid is the life of the soul. The more we live to things unseen, the less hold will this world of sense have over us. The more we make anything seen our end, any thing short of approving ourselves to God, the more will our hidden life decay. It matters not wherein we are employed, but how. We may in the most sacred things forget God, or in the most common things serve Him. We may be promoting His Truth, and ourselves be but the unfruitful conduit through which It flows to water the earth; or we may in the meanest things of this earth be living to His Glory and thereby promoting it. Everything seen, even the outward Coming of God's Kingdom, may make men lose sight of God; in every meanest duty the quickened eye may see Him the Invisible. Self-denying duty, love, and contemplation, together advance this hidden life. Alone, self-denying duty were austere and hard; love were weak and faint; contemplation but imaginative or sensual. Together, self-denial deadens the flesh; deeds of love soften the spirit; contemplation fixes the soul upon God ...
This, then, is our office; to see how, day by day, we may be ourselves more hidden from the world, that we may be more with God; how to discharge our duties in it, so as more to forget ourselves and remember God only; to consider this only, how they may be done, so as best to please Him; how self may least mingle in them; to seek no bye-ends of our own, no applause of men, nor our own; rather to seek how we may escape men's praise, that we may win God's; escape men's sight and be seen by our "Father Who seeth in secret" only, and have that in store with Him, which He, "in the last day", "will reward openly"; to be content with the least; desire no more than we have; be thankful to escape the snares of those who have what we have not; be glad, if it may be, to have less, that others may abound; to disburden ourselves of wealth by giving to Christ's poor; forget self in others, love others in God; seek only to be "buried with Christ" from this world and its vanities, hidden in His Tomb, so that all the show and pomps of this world may but flit around us as unreal things, but not catch our gaze, nor draw our hearts, which have been "buried with Him" and are now "risen with Him."
E. B. Pusey, from Sermons during the season from Advent to Whitsuntide