John Henry Newman.

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which is commonly done. Further, I am not excluding from the com-
pany of Christians all who cannot at once make up their minds thus
vigorously to regret the world, when its goods are dangerous, inexpedi-
ent, or unsuitable ; but excluding them from the company of mature
manly Christians. Doubtless our Lord deals gently with us. He has
put his two Sacraments apart from each other. Baptism first admits
us to His favour ; His Holy Supper brings us among His perfect ones.
He has put from fourteen to twenty years between them, that we maiy
have time to count the cost, and make our decision calmly. Only there
must be no standing still, — there cannot be ; time goes slowly, yet
surely from birth to the age of manhood, in like manner, our minds,
though slowly formed to love Christ, must still be forming. It is when
men are mature in years, and yet are "children in understanding," then
they are intolerable, because they have exceeded their season, and are
out of place. Then it is that ambitious thoughts, trifling pursuits and


amusements, passionate wishes and keen hopes, and the love of display,
are directly sinful because they are by that time dehberate sins. While
they were children, " they spake as children, understood, thought as
children ;" but when they became men, " it was high time to awake out
of sleep," and "put away childish things." And if they have continued
children instead of " having their senses exercised to discriminate be-
tween the excellent and the base," alas, what deep repentance must
be theirs before they know what true peace is ! — what self-reproach
and sharp self-discipline, before their eyes can be opened to see effec-
tually those truths which are " spiritually discerned !"

So much on the case of those who neglect to grow betimes into the
hope of their calling. As to the young themselves, it is plain that
nothing I have said can give encouragement to them to acquiesce in their
present incomplete devotion of themselves to God, because it will be as
much as they can do, even with their best efforts, to make their growth
of wisdom and of stature keep pace with each other. And if there be
any one who, as thinking the enjoyments of youth must soon be relin-
quished, deliberately resolves to make the most of them before the
duties of manhood come upon him, such a one, in doing so, is render-
ing it impossible for him to give them up, when he is called to do so^
As for those who allow themselves in what, even in youth, is clearly
sinful, — the deliberate neglect of prayer, profaneness, riotous living, or
other immorality, — the case of such persons has not even entered into
my mind, when I spoke of youthful thoughtlessness. They, of course,
have no " inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God."

But if there be those among us, and such there well may be, who,
like the young ruler, " worshipping Christ," and " loved" by Him, and
obeying His commandments from their youth up, yet cannot but be
" sorrowful " at the thought of giving up their pleasant visions, their
childish idolatries, and their bright hopes of earthly happiness, such I
bid be of good cheer, and take courage. What is it your Saviour re-
quires of you, more than will also be exacted from you by that hard and
evil master, who desires your ruin ? Christ bids you give up the world ;
but will not, at any rate, the world soon give up you ? Can you keep
it, by being its slave ? Will not he, whose creature of temptation it is,
the prince of the world, take it from you, whatever he at present pro-
mises 1 What does your Lord require of you, but to look at all things
as they really are, to account them merely as His instruments, and to
believe that good is good because He wills it, that he can bless as easily
by hard stone as by bread, in the desert as in the fruitful field, if we
have faith in Him who gives us the true bread from heaven ? Daniel,
and his friends were princes of the royal house of David ; they were:


" children well-favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, cunning in know-
ledge, and understanding science ;"* yet they had faith to refuse even
the literal meat and drink given them, because it was an idol's sacrifice,
and God sustained them without it. For ten days of trial they lived
on pulse and water ; yet " at the end," says the sacred record, " their
countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children
which did eat the portion of the king's meat." Doubt not, then. His
power to bring you through any difficulties, who gives you the command
to encounter them. He has showed yon the way ; He gave up the
home of His mother Mary to " be about His father's business," and now
He but bids you take up after Him the cross which He bore for you,'and
"fill up what is wanting of His afflictions in your flesh." Be not afraid,
— it is but a pang now and then, and a struggle ; a covenant with your
eyes, and a fasting in the wilderness, some calm habitual watchfulness,
and the hearty effort to obey, and all will be well. Be not afraid. He
is most gracious, and will bring you on by little and little. He does not
show you whither He is leading you ; you might be frightened did you
see the whole prospect at once. Sufficient for the day is its own evil.
Follow His plan ; look not on anxiously ; look down at your present
footing " lest it be turned out of the way," but speculate not about the
future : I can well believe that you have hopes now, which you cannot
give up, and even which support you in your present course. Be it so ;
whether they will be fulfilled, or not, is in His hand. He may be pleas-
ed to grant the desires of your heart ; if so, thank Him for His mercy ;
only be sure, that all will be for your highest good, and " as thy days,
so shall thy strength be. There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun,
who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in His excellency on the
sky. The Eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlast-
ing arms."f He knows no variableness, neither shadow of turning;
and when we outgrow our childhood, we but approach, however feebly,
to His likeness, who has no youth nor age, who has no passions, no
hopes, nor fears, but who loves truth, purity, and mercy, and who is
supremely blessed, because He is supremely holy.

Lastly, while we thus think of Him, let us not forget to be up and
doing. Let us beware of indulging a mere barren faith and love,
which dreams instead of working, and is fastidious when it should be
hardy. This is only spiritual childhood in another form ; — for the Holy
Ghost is the Author of active good works, and leads us to the obser-
vance of all lowly deeds of ordinary obedience as the most pleasing
sacrifice to God.

Daniel i. 4. t Deut. xxxiii. 25—27.




" Well to celebrate these Religious and Sacred Days, is to spend the flower of our time happily.
They are the splendour and outward dignity of our religion, forcible witnesses of ancient Truth,
provocations to the exercises of all piety, shadows of our endless felicity in heaven, on earth,
everlasting records and memorials ; wherein they which cannot be drawn to hearken unto that
we teach, may, only by looking upon that we do in a manner read whatsoever we believe.'' —
Hooker, Ecclks. Pol. v. 71.


Some explanation may be necessary by way of introducing the Reader
to the Sermons contained in this Volume. It has been the writer's
practice upon Festivals, in the course of the Morning Service appointed
for each, to read a short Lecture upon a subject connected with the
day. When he applied himself to prepare these Lectures for the press,
he found that some of them required re-writing, and others enlarging ;
while those which belonged to the Sunday Festivals necessarily varied
in length and style from such as had been read on Week-days. The
consequence has been, that what was originally a series abrupt and in-
complete in point of composition, is now wanting also in uniformity of
character, without, in many cases, becoming exempt from its first defect.
Moreover, the circumstances under which the Lectures were written,
have occasioned, in some places, a particularity of remark, which could
hardly have been ventured on in a large and mixed congregation, and
elsewhere a line of thought more abstruse or argumentative than is
commonly advisable in Parochial teaching.

This is said, only as an apology for the particular form and cast of
the Volume. As for the matter itself, did the writer ask any indulgence
for it, he would incur the inconsistency of implying that it ought not to
have been given to the world. Yet he may be allowed to entreat, in
respect both of this and of his former Volume, that if there are persons
who at first reading feel apprehensive that some of his statements are of
hurtful tendencvt they would deal more fairly with themselves than to
begin with a critical, instead of a practical consideration of them ; and,
that, before they allow themselves to fear for others, they would con-
sider whether the statements in question have had any bad eflfect on
their own minds. This he says, not as forgetful that the true standard
and test of religious teaching are, not its apparent eflfects one way or


the other, but the rule of Scripture and Antiquity ; but, anticipating that
objections will be brought rather from the supposed consequences of
his doctrine, than its want of authority, he is desirous that these conse-
quences should be fairly proved before they are imputed. On the other
hand, should any reader be led to suppose that any thing has been said
by way of paradox or for novelty's sake, let him first of all inquire,
whether the points objected to do not rather form part of a whole, — of
one integral view of doctrine, which has ever been considered to descend
in an unbroken line from the first ages of the Gospel, and which, far
from being the mere food of idle and ingenious intellects, has before now
influenced Christians to suffer and to lose their all in maintenance
of it.

He ventures further to hope, that he may not unnecessarily be sup-
posed, in any part of his Volumes, to be hazarding remarks on opinions
or practices existing within the Church. There are for the most part
objects enough external to it, which answer to them, and far more
legitimately ; and if there is sufficient reason for noticing the mistakes
in question, on account of the existing insensibility of Society to the
real moral differences between the Sectarian and the High Apostolical
temper, he conceives that they should not find a shelter in the mere
accident, that they are not altogether without advocates among our-

In conclusion, he must express his great obligations, in the matter
of these Volumes, to the unconscious assistance of a Friend, with whom
he is in habits of familiarity, and whose stray observations he has plea-
sure in detecting in them. He makes this acknowledgment in case any
coincidences of remark should be hereafter traceable between them and
any future publication of the Author of the Christian Year.



John i. 40.

■One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon
Peter's brother.

With this Festival we begin our year, — thus ushering in, with a few
weeks of preparation, the clay of Christ's Nativity. St. Andrew, whom
•we now commemorate, has been placed first of the Apostles, because
(as far as Scripture informs us) he was the first among them who
found the Messiah, and sought to be His disciple. The circumstances
which preceded his call are related in the passage of the Gospel from
which the text is taken. We are there informed that it was John the
Baptist who pointed out to him his Saviour. It was fitting that tho
forerunner of Christ should be the instrument of leading to Him the
iirst-fruits of his Apostles.

St. Andrew, who was already one of St. John's disciples, was at-
tending on his master with another, when, as it happened, Jesus passed
by. The Baptist, who had from the first declared his own subordinate
place in the dispensation which was then opening, took this occasion of
pointing out to his two disciples Him in whom it centered. He said,
" Behold the Lamb of God ; this is He of whom I spake, whom the
Father has chosen and sent, the true sacrificial Lamb, by whose suffer-
ings the sins of the world will be expiated." On hearing this, the two
disciples (Andrew, I say, being one of them) straightway left John and
followed Christ. He turned round and asked them, " What seek ye ?"
They expressed their desire to be allowed to wait upon his teaching ;
and He suffered them to accompany Him home, and to that day
with Him. What He said to them is not told us ; but St. Andrew re-
ceived such confirmation of the truth of the Baptist's words, that in
consequence he went after his own brother to tell him what he had
found. " He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him,
We have found the Messias .... and he brought him to Jesus."
Vol. L— 14

210 ST. ANDREW. [Skrm..

St. John the Evangelist, who has been guided to preserve various no-
tices concerning the separate Apostles, which are not contained in the
three first Gospels, speaks of Andrew in two other places, and intro-
duces him under circumstances which show that, little as is known of
this Apostle now, he was, in fact, very high in the favour and confi-
dence of his Lord. In his twelfth chapter he describes Andrew as
bringing to Christ certain Greeks who came up to Jerusalem to wor-
ship, and who were desirous of seeing Him. And, what is remarkable,
these strangers had first applied to St. Philip, who, though an Apostle
himself, instead of taking upon him to introduce them, had recourse to
his fellow-townsman, St. Andrew, as if, whether from age or intimacy
Avith Christ, a more suitable channel for furthering their petition.
' Philip Cometh, and telleth Andrew ; and again, Andrew and Philip
tell Jesus."

These two Apostles are also mentioned together in the sixth chapter
of the same Gospel, at the consultation which preceded the miracle of
the loaves and fishes ; and there again Andrew is engaged, as before, in
the office of introducing strangers to Christ. " There is a lad here,"^
he says to his Lord, a lad who, perhaps, had not courage to come for-
ward of himself, " which hath five barley loaves and two small fishes."'

The information afforded by these passages, of St. Andrew's especial
acceptableness to Christ among the Apostles, is confirmed by the only
place in the other Gospels, besides the catalogue, in which his name
occurs. After our Lord had predicted the ruin of the Temple, " Peter,
James, John, and Andrew asked Him privately, Tell us, when shall
these things be ?"* and it was to these four that our Saviour revealed
the signs of His coming, and of the end of the world. Here St. An-
drew is represented as in the especial confidence of Christ ; and asso-
ciated too with those Apostles whom He is known to have selected from
the Twelve, on various occasions, by tokens of his peculiar favour.

Little is known of St. Andrew in addition to these inspired notices of
him. He is said to have preached the Gospel in Scythia ; and he was
at length martyred in Achaia. His death was by crucifixion ; that
kind of cross being used, according to the tradition, which still goes by
his name.

Yet, little as Scripture tells us concerning him, it affords us enough
for a lesson, and that an important one. These are the facts before us.
St. Andrew was the first convert among the Apostles ; he was espe-
cially in our Lord's confidence ; thrice is he described as introducing
others to Him ; lastly, he is little known in history, while the place of

* Mark, xiii, 3.


dignity and the name of highest renown have been allotted to his
brother Simon, whom he was the means of bringing to the knowledge
of his Saviour.

Our lesson, then, is this : that those men are not necessarily the
most useful men in their generation, nor the most favoured by God, who
make the most noise in the world, and who seem to be principals in the
great changes and events recorded in history ; on the contrary, that
even when we are able to point to a certain number of men as the real
instruments of any great blessings vouchsafed to mankind, our relative
estimate of them, one with another, is often very erroneous : so that, on
the whole, if we would trace truly the hand of God in human affairs,
and pursue His bounty as displayed in the world to its original sources,
we must unlearn our admiration of the powerful and distinguished, our
reliance on the opinion of society, our respect for the decisions of the
learned or the multitude, and turn our eyes to private life, watching in
all we read or witness for the true signs of God's presence, the graces of
personal holiness manifested in His elect ; which, weak as they may
seem to m.ankind, are mighty through God, and have an influence upon
the course of His Providence, and bring about great events in the world
at large, when the wisdom and strength of the natural man are of no

Now, first, observe the operation of this law of God's government, in
respect to the introduction of those temporal blessings which are of the
first importance in securing our well-being and comfort in the present
life. For example, who was the first cultivator of corn ? who first tamed
and domesticated the animals whose strength we use, and wliom we
make our food ? Or who first discovered the medicinal herbs which,
from the earliest times, have been our resource against disease ? If it
was mortal man, who thus looked through the vegetable and animal
Avorlds, and discriminated between the useful and the worthless, his
name is unknown to the millions whom he has benefitted. It is notori-
ous, that those who first suggest the most happy inventions, and open a
way to the secret stores of nature, — those who weary themselves in the
search after Truth, strike out momentous principles of action, painfully
force upon their contemporaries the adoption of beneficial measures, or,
again, are the original cause of the chief events in national history, are
commonly supplanted, as regards celebrity and reward, by inferior men.
Their works are not called after them ; nor the arts and systems which
they have given the world. Their schools are usurped by strangers, and
their maxims of wisdom circulate among the children of their people,
forming, perhaps, a nation's character, but not embalming in their own
immortality the names of their original authors.

212 ST. ANDREW. [Skkm.

Such is the history of the social and poHtical world ; and the rule dis-
cernible in it is still more clearly established in the world of morals and
religion. Who taught the Doctors and Saints of the Church, who, in
their day, or in after times, have been the most illustrious expounders of
the precepts of right and wrong, and, by word and deed, are the guides
of our conduct ? Did Almighty Wisdom speak to them through the
operation of their own minds, or rather, did it not subject them to in-
structors unknown to fame, wiser perhaps even than themselves. An-
drew followed John the Baptist, while Simon remained at his nets.
Andrew first recognised the Messiah among the mhabitants of despised
Nazareth ; and he brought his brother to Him. Yet to Andrew Christ
spake no word of commendation, which has been allowed to continue
on record ; whereas to Simon, even on his first coming, He gave the
honourable name by which he is now designated, and afterwards put
him forward as the typical foundation of His Church. Nothing indeed
can hence be inferred, one way or the other, concerning the relative ex-
cellence of the two brothers ; so far only appears, that, in the providen-
tial course of events, the one was the secret beginner, and the other the
public instrument of a great divine work. St. Paul, again, was hon-
oured with the distinction of a miraculous conversion, and was called
to be the chief agent of the propagation of the Gospel among the hea-
then ; yet to Ananias, an otherwise unknown saint, dwelling at Damas-
cus, was committed the high office of conveying the gifts of pardon and
the Holy Ghost to the Apostle of the Gentiles.

Providence thus acts daily. The early life of all men is private ; it
is as children, generally, that their characters are formed to good or
evil ; and those who form them to good, their truest and chief benefac-
tors, are unknown to the world. It has been remarked, that some of
the most eminent Christians have been blessed with religious mothers,
and have in after life referred their own graces to the instrumentality
of their teaching. Augustine has preserved to the Church the history
of his mother Monica ; but in the case of others, even the name is de-
nied to us of our great benefactress, whosoever she was, — and sometimes,
doubtless, the circumstance of her service altogether.

When we look at the history of inspiration, the same rule still holds.
Consider the Old Testament, which " makes us wise unto salvation."
How great a part of it is written by authors unknown ! The book of
Judges, the Second of Samuel, the books of Kings, Chronicles, Esther,
and Job, and great part of the book of Psalms. The last instance is
the most remarkable of these. " Profitable" beyond words as is the in-
struction conveyed to us in every page of Scripture, yet the Psalms
have been the most directly and visibly useful part of the whole volume,


having been the prayer-book of the Church ever since they were writ-
ten ; and have done more, (as far as we dare judge,) to prepare souls
for heaven, than any of the inspired books, except the Gospels. Yet
the authors of a large portion of them are altogether unknown. And so
with the Liturgies, which have been the possession of the Christian
Church from the beginning ; who were those matured and exalted
Saints who left them to us ? Nay, in the whole system of our worship,
who are the authors of each decorous provision and each edifying cus-
tom 1 Who found out the musical tunes, in which our praises are
offered up to G^, and in which resides so wondrous a persuasion " to
worship and fall down, and kneel before the Lord our Maker ?" Who
Avere those religious men, our spiritual fathers in the " Catholic faith,"
who raised of old time the excellent fabrics all over the country, in
which we worship, though with less of grateful reverence for their
memory than we might piously express ? Of these greatest men in
every age, there "is no memorial :" they " are perished as though they
had never been, and become as though they had never been born."

Now I know that reflections of this kind are apt to sadden and vex
us ; and such of us particularly as are gifted with ardent and enthusi-
astic minds, with a generous love of what is great and good, and a
noble hatred of injustice. These men find it difficult to reconcile
themselves to the notion that the triumph of the Truth in all its forms,
is postponed to the next world. They would fain anticipate the coming
of the righteous Judge ; nay, perhaps they are somewhat too favourably
disposed towards the present world, to acquiesce without resistance in a
doctrine which testifies to the corruption of its decisions, and the worth-
lessness of its honours. But that it is a truth, has already been showed
almost as matter of fact, putting the evidence of Scripture out of
consideration ; and if it be such, it is our wisdom, as it will become our
privilege, to accustom our minds to it, and to receive it, not in Avord
merely, but in seriousness.

Why indeed should we shrink from this gracious law of God's present
providence in our own case, or in the case of those we love, when our
subjection to it docs but associate us with the best and noblest of our
race, and with beings of nature and condition superior to our own ?
Andrew is scarcely known, except by name ; while Peter has ever held
the place of honour all over the Church ; yet Andrew brought Peter to
Christ. And are not the Blessed Angels unknown to the world ? and
is not God Himself, the Author of all good, hid from mankind at large,
partially manifested and poorly glorified, in a few scattered servants
here and there ? and His Spirit, do we know whence It cometh, and
whither It goeth 1 and though He has taught men Avhatever there has

Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanParochial sermons (Volume 1) → online text (page 24 of 76)