John Henry Newman.

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Judas was in darkness and hated the light, and " went to his own
place ;" yet he found it, not by the mere force of certain natural prin-
ciples working out their inevitable results, — by some unfeeling fate,
which sentences the wicked to hell, — but by a Judge who surveys him
from head to foot, who searches him through and through, to see if there
is any ray of hope, any latent spark of faith ; who pleads with him
again and again, and, at length abandoning him, mourns over him the
while with the wounded affection of a friend rather than the severity
of the Judge of the whole earth. For instance, first, a startling warn-
ing a year before his trial. " Have not I chosen you twelve, and one
of you is a devil ?" Then, when the time was come, the lowest act of
abasement towards one who was soon to betray him and to suffer the
unquenchable fire. " He riseth from supper, and . . . poureth water
into a bason and began to wash the disciples' feet,"* and Judas in the
number. Then a second warning at the same time, or rather a sorrow-
ful lament, spoken as if to Himself, " Ye are not all clean." Then
openly, " Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray
Me." " The Son of man goeth as it is written of Him ; but wo unto
that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed ! it had been good for
that man if he had not been born. Then Judas, which betrayed Him,
answered and said, Master, is it I ? He said unto him. Thou hast said
it." Lastly, when He was actually betrayed by him, " Friend, where-
fore art thou come ?" " Judas, (He addresses him by name,) betrayest

* John vi. 70 : xiii. 4, 5.


thou the Son of man with a kiss ?"* I am not attempting to reconcile
His divine foreknowledge with this special and prolonged anxiety, this
personal feeling towards Judas ; but wish you only to observe the latter,
to observe what is given us by the revelation of Almighty God in the
Gospels, viz. an acquaintance with His providential regard for individ-
uals, making His sun to rise on the evil as well as on the good. And in
like manner doubtless at the last day, the wicked and impenitent shall
be condemned, not in a mass, but one by one, — one by one, appearing
each in his own turn before the righteous Judge, standing under the
full glory of His countenance, carefully weighed in the balance and
found wanting, dealt with, not indeed with a weak and wavering pur-
pose, where God's justice claims satisfaction, yet, at the same time,
with all the circumstantial solicitude and awful care of one who would
fain make, if He could, the fruit of His passion more numerous than it is.

This solemn reflection may be further enforced by considering our
Lord's behaviour towards strangers who came to Him. Judas was His
friend ; but we have never seen Him. How will He look and how
does he look upon us ? Let His manner in the Gospels towards the
multitude of men assure us. All-holy, almighty as He is, and has
shown himself to be, yet in the midst of His Divine Majesty, He could
display a tender interest in all who approached Him ; as if He could
not cast His eyes on any of His creatures without the overflowing af-
fection of a parent for his child, regarding it with a full satisfaction,
and simply desiring its happiness and highest good. Thus, when the
rich young man came to Him, it is said, " And Jesus beholding him,
loved him and said unto him. One thing thou lackest." When the Phar-
isees asked a sign, "He sighed deeply in His spirit." At another time,
" He looked round about on them," — as if on every one, to see if here
or there perchance there might be an exception to the general unbelief,
and to condemn one by one, those who were guilty,f — " He looked
round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their
hearts." Again, when a leper came to Him, He did not simply heal
him, but " moved with compassion, He put forth His hand."|

How gracious is this revelation of God's particular providence to
those who seek Him ! how gracious to those who have discovered that
this world is but vanity, and who are solitary and isolated in themselves,
whatever shadows of power and happiness surround them ! The multi-
tude, indeed, go on without these thoughts, either from insensibility,

« Matt. xxvi. 24, 25, 50. Luke xxii. 48.

t Vide also Matt. xix. 26. Mark iii. 34. Luke xxii. 6L

t Mark x. 21. viii. 12 ; iii. 5 ; i. 41.


as not understanding their own Avants, or changing from one idol to
another, as each successively fails. But men of keener hearts would
be overpowered by despondency, and would even loathe existence, did
they suppose themselves under the mere operation of fixed laws, pow-
erless to excite the pity or the attention of Him who has appointed
them. What should they do especially, who are cast among persons
unable to enter into their feelings, and thus strangers to them, though
by long custom ever so much friends ! or have perplexities of mind they
cannot explain to themselves, much less remove, and no one to help
them, — or have affections and aspirations pent up within them, because
they have not met with objects to which to devote them, — or are mis-
understood by those around them, and find they have no words to set
themselves right with them, or no principles in common by way of ap-
peal, — or seem to themselves to be without place or purpose in the
world, or to be in the way of others, — or have to follow their own sense
of duty without advisers or supporters, nay, to resist the wishes and
solicitations of superiors or relatives, — or have the burden of some pain-
ful secret, or of some incommunicable solitary grief ! In all such cases
the Gospel narrative supplies our very need, not simply presenting to
us an unchangeable Creator to rely upon, but a compassionate Guar-;
dian, a discriminating Judge and Helper. God beholds thee individual^
ly, whoever thou art. He " calls thee by thy name." He sees thee,
and understands thee, as He made thee. He knows what is in thee,
all thy own peculiar feelings and thoughts, thy dispositions and likingsj
thy strength and thy weakness. He views thee in thy day of rejoicing
and thy day of sorrow. He sympathizes in thy hopes and thy tempta-
tions. He interests Himself in all thy anxieties and remembrances, all
the risings and fallings of thy spirit. He has numbered the very hairs
of thy head and the cubits of thy stature. He compasses thee round
and bears thee in His arms ; He takes thee up and sets thee down.
He notes thy very countenance, whether smiling or in tears, whether
healthful or sickly. He looks tenderly upon thy hands and thy feet ;
He hears thy voice, the beating of thy heart, and thy very breathing.
Thou dost not love thyself better than He loves thee. Thou canst not
shrink from pain more than He dislikes thy bearing it ; and if He puts
it on thee, it is as thou wilt put it on thyself, if thou art wise, for a great-
er good afterwards. Thou art not only His creature, (though for the
very sparrows He has a care, and pitied the "much cattle" of Nine-
veh,) thou art man redeemed and sanctified, His adopted son, favoured
with a portion of that glory and blessedness which flows from Him ever-
lastingly unto the Only-begotten. Thou art chosen to be His, even
above thy fellows who dwell in the East and South. Thou wast one of


those for whom Christ offered up His last prayer, and sealed it with His
precious blood. What a thought is this, a thought almost too great for
our faith ? Scarce can we refrain from acting Sarah's part, when we
bring it before us, so as to " laugh" from amazement and perplexity.
What is man, what are we, what am I, that the Son of God should be
so mindful of me 1 W^hat am I, that He should have raised me from
almost a devil's nature to that of an Angel's ? that he should have
changed my soul's original constitution, new-made me, who from my
youth up have been a transgressor, and should Himself dwell personally
in this very heart of mine, making me His temple 1 What am I, that
God the Holy Ghost should enter into me, and draw up my thoughts
heavenward " with plaints unutterable 1

These are the meditations which come upon the Christian to console
bim, while he is with Christ upon the holy mount. And, when he de-
scends to his daily duties, they are still his inward strength, though he
is not allowed to tell the vision to those around him. They make his
countenance to shine, make him cheerful, collected, serene, and firm in
the midst of all temptation, persecution, or bereavement. And with
such thoughts before us, how base and miserable does the world appear
in all its pursuits and doctrines ! How truly miserable does it seem to
seek good from the creature ; to covet station, wealth, or credit ; to
choose for ourselves, in fancy, this or that mode of life ; to affect the
manners and fashions of the great ; to spend our time in follies ; to be
discontented, quarrelsome, jealous or envious, censorious or resentful ;
fond of unprofitable talk, and eager for the news of the day ; busy about
public matters which concern us not ; hot in the cause of this or that in-
terest or party ; or set upon gain ; or devoted to the increase of barren
knowledge ! And at the end of our days, when flesh and heart fail,
what will be our consolation, though we have made ourselves rich, or
have served an office, or been the first man among our equals, or have
depressed a rival, or managed things our own way, or have settled splen-
didly, or have been intimate with the great, or have fared sumptuously,
or have gained a name ! Say, even if we obtain that which lasts long-
est, a place in history, yet, after all, what ashes shall we have eaten for
bread ! And, in that awful hour, when death is in sight, will He, whose
eye is now so loving towards us, and whose hand falls on us so gently, will
He acknowledge us any more ? or if He still speaks, will His voice have
any power to stir us ? rather will it not repel us as it did Judas, by the
very tenderness with which it would invite us to Him?

Let us then endeavour, by His grace, rightly to understand where
we stand, and what He is towards us ; most tender and pitiful, yet, for
all His pity, not passing by the breadth of a single hair the eternal lines


of truth, holiness and justice ; He who can condemn to the wo ever-
lasting, though He weeps and laments beforehand, and who, when once
the sentence of condemnation has gone forth, will wipe out altogether
the remembrance of us, " and know us not." The tares were "bound
in bundles" for the burning, indiscriminately, promiscuously, contempt-
uously. "Let us then fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into
His rest, any of us should seem to come short of it."



John xi. 34—36.

Jesus said, Where have ye laid him ? They said unto Him, Lord, come and see.
Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how He loved him.

On first reading these words the question naturally arises in the mind —
why did our Lord weep at the grave of Lazarus ? He knew He had
power to raise Him, why should He act the part of those who sorrow for
the dead ? In attempting any answer to this inquiry, we should ever
remember that the thoughts of our Saviour's mind are far beyond our
comprehension. Hardly do Ave enter into the feelings and meaning of
men like ourselves, who are gifted with any special talent ; even human
philosophers or poets are obscure from the depth of their conceptions.
What then must be the marvellous abyss of love and understanding in
Him who, though partaker of our nature, is the Son of God ?

This, indeed, is evident, as a matter of fact, on the face of the Scrip-
ture record, as any one may see who will take the trouble to inspect it.
It is not, for instance, the text alone which raises a question ; but the
whole narrative, in which it occurs, exhibits our Saviour's conduct in
various lights, which it is difficult for weak creatures, such as we are,
properly to blend together.

When He first received the news of Lazarus's illness, " He abode two
days still in the same place where He was." Then telling His disciples
that Lazarus was dead, He said He was " glad for their sake that He was


not there ;" and said that He would " go and awaken him out of sleep."
Then, when He was come to Bethany, where he dwelt, He was so
moved by the sorrow of the Jews that " He groaned in the spirit and
was troubled." Lastly, in spite of His perturbation and weeping, pre-
sently He raised Lazarus.

I say, it is remarkable that such difficulties as these should lie on the
face of Scripture, quite independently of those arising from the com-
parison of the texts in question with the doctrine of His divine nature.
We know, indeed, there are insuperable mysteries involved in the union
of His divine with His human attributes, which seem incompatible with
each other ; for instance, how He should be ever blessed, and yet weep,
— all-knowing, yet partially ignorant ; but, without entering into the
consideration of the mysteries of faith, commonly so called, it is worth
inquiring whether the very surface of the sacred history does not con-
tain apparent inconsistencies, of a nature to prepare us for such other
difficulties as may lie from a deeper comparison of history with doctrine.

As another instance of the discrepancy I speak of, consider our Sa-
viour's words according to the received versions, " Sleep on now, and
take your rest;" and immediately after, " Rise, let us be going."*

So again, " He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy
one ;" then follows, " Lord, behold, here are two swords. And He said,
It is enough ;" lastly, when Peter used his sword, " Put up again thy
sword into his place, for all they that take the sword shall perish with
the sword. "t

I am not saying that we cannot possibly remove any part of the
seeming opposition between such passages, but only that on the whole
there is quite enough in the narrative to show that He who speaks is not
one whose thoughts it is easy to get possession of ; that it is no light
matter to put oneself, even in part, into the position of His mind, and
to state under what feelings and motives He said this or that ; in a word,
I wish to impress upon you, that our Saviour's words are not of a nature
to be heard once and no more, but that to understand them we must
feed upon them, and live in them, as if by little and little growing into
their meaning.

It would be well if we understood the necessity of this more than we
do. It is very much the fashion at present to regard the Saviour of the
world in an irreverent and unreal way, — as a mere idea or vision ; to
speak of Him so narrowly and unfruitfuUy, as if we only knew of His
name ; though Scripture has set Him before us in His actual sojourn on
earth, in His gestures, words, and deed, in order that we may have that

* Matt. xxvi. 45, 46. t Matt. xxvi. 52. Luke xxii. 36, 38.


on which to fix our eyes. And till we learn to do this, to leave off vague
statements about His love, His willingness to receive the sinner, His
imparting repentance and spiritual aid, and the like, and view Him in
His particular and actual works, set before us in Scripture, surely we
have not derived from the Gospels that very benefit which they are in-
tended to convey. Nay, we are in some danger, perhaps, even as regards
our faith ; for, it is to be feared, while the thought of Christ is but a
creation of our minds, it may gradually be changed or fade away, it may
become defective or perverted ; whereas when we contemplate Christ as
manifested in the Gospels, the Christ who exists therein, external to our
own imaginings, and who is as really a living being, and sojourned on
earth as truly as any of us, then we shall at length believe in Him with
a conviction, a confidence, and an entireness, which can no more be
annihilated than the belief in our senses. It is impossible for a Chris-
tian mind to meditate on the Gospels, without feeling, beyond all manner
of doubt, that He who is the subject of them is God ; but it is very
possible to speak in a vague way of His love towards us, and use the
name of Christ, yet not at all to realize that He is the Living Son of
the Father, or to have any anchor for our faith within us, so as to be
fortified against the risk of future defection.

I will say a few words then under this impression, and with the
reverent thoughts before me with which I began, by way of comment on
our Saviour's weeping at Lazarus's grave ; or, rather I will suggest what
each of you may, please God, improve for himself.

What led our Lord to weep over the dead, who could at a word re-
store him, nay, had it in purpose so to do 1

1. First of all, as the context informs us. He wept from very sympathy
with the grief of others. " When Jesus saw Mary weeping, and the
Jews also weeping which came with her. He groaned in the spirit, and
was troubled." It is the very nature of compassion or sympathy, as the
word implies, to " rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those
who weep." We know it is so with men ; and God tells us He also is
compassionate, and full of tender mercy. Yet we do not well know
what this means, for how can God rejoice or grieve ? By the very per-
fection of His nature Almighty God cannot show sympathy, at least to the
comprehension of beings of such limited minds as ours. He, indeed,
is hid from us ; but, if we were allowed to see Him, how could we dis-
cern in the Eternal and Unchangeable signs of sympathy ? Words and
works of sympathy He does display to us ; but it is the very sight of
sympathy in another that affects and comforts the sufferer more even
than the fruits of it. Now we cannot see God's sympathy ; and the
Son of God, though feeling for us as great compassion as His Father^


did not show it to us while He remained in His Father's bosom. But
when He took flesh and appeared on earth. He showed us the Godhead
in a new manifestation, He invested Himself with a new set of attri-
butes, those of our flesh, taking into Him a human soul and body, in
order that thoughts, feelings, affections, might be His, which could re-
spond to ours and certify to us His tender mercy. When, then, our
Saviour weeps from sympathy at Mary's tears, let us not say it is the
love of a man overcome by natural feeling. It is the love of God, the
bowels of compassion of the Almighty and Eternal condescending to
appear as we are capable of receiving it, in the form of human nature.

Jesus wept, therefore, not merely from the deep thoughts of His un-
derstanding, but from spontaneous tenderness ; from the gentleness and
mercy, the encompassing loving-kindness and exuberant fostering af-
fection of the Son of God for His own work, the race of man. Their
tears touched Him at once, as their miseries had brought Him down
from heaven. His ear was open to them, and the sound of weeping
went at once to His heart.

2. But next, we may suppose (if it is allowable to conjecture), that
His pity, thus spontaneously excited, was led forward to dwell on the
various circumstances in man's condition which excite pity. It was
awakened and began to look around upon the miseries of the world.
What was it He saw ? He saw visibly displayed the victory of death ;
a mourning multitude, — every thing present which might waken sorrow
except him who was the chief object of it. He was not, — a stone
marked the place where he lay. Martha and Mary, whom he had
known and loved in their brother's company now solitary, approached
Him, first one and then the other, in far other mood and circumstance
than heretofore, — in deep affliction ; in faith indeed and resignation,
yet, apparently, with somewhat of a tender complaint : " Lord, if Thou
hadst been here, my brother had not died." Such has been the judg-
ment passed, or the doubt raised, concerning Him, in the breast of the
creature in every age. Men have seen sin and misery around them,
and, whether in faith or unbelief, have said, " If Thou hadst been here,"
if Thou hadst interfered, it might have been otherwise. Here, then,
was the Creator surrounded by the works of His hands, who adored
Him indeed, yet seemed to ask why He suffered what He Himself had
made, so to be marred. Here was the Creator of the world at a scene
of death, seeing the issue of his gracious handy-work. Would not He
revert in thought to the hour of creation, when He went forth from the
bosom of the Father to bring all things into existence ? There had been
a day when He had looked upon the work of his love, and seen that it
was " very good." Whence had the good been turned to evil, the


fine gold become dim ? " An enemy had done this." Why it was
allowed, and how achieved, was a secret with Him ; a secret from all
who were about Him, as it is a secret to us at this day. Here He had
incommunicable thoughts with His Eternal Father. He would not say
why it was ; He chose another course for taking away their doubts and
complaints. " He opened not His mouth," but He wrought won-
drously. What He has done for all believers, revealing His atoning
death, yet not explaining it, this He did for Martha and Mary also, pro-
ceeding to the grave in silence, to raise their brother, while they com-
plained that he had been allowed to die.

Here, then, I say, were abundant sources for His grief (if we may be
permitted to trace them), in the contrast between Adam, in the day in
which he was created, innocent and immortal, and man as the devil
had made him, full of the poison of sin and the breath of the grave ;
and again, in the timid complaint of His sorrowing friends that that
change had been permitted. And though He was about to turn back
the scene of sorrow into joy again, yet, after all, Lazarus one day must
die again, — He was but delaying the fulfilment of His own decree. A
stone lay upon him now ; and, though he was raised from the grave, yet,
by His own inscrutable law, one day he must lie down again in it. It
was a respite, not a resurrection.

3. Here I have suggested another thought which admits of being-
dwelt upon. Christ was come to do a deed of mercy, and it was a secret
in His own breast. All the love which He felt for Lazarus was a secret
from others. He was conscious to Himself He loved Him ; but none
could tell but He how earnest that affection was. Peter, when his love
for Christ was doubted, found a relief in an appeal to Himself : " Lord,
Thou knowest all things ; Thou knowest that I love Thee."* But
Christ had no earthly friend who could be His confidant in this matter ;
and; as His thoughts turned on Lazarus and His heart yearned towards
him, was He not in Joseph's case, who not in grief, but from the very
fulness of his soul, and his desolateness in a heathen land, when his
brethren stood before him, " sought where to weep," as if his own tears
were his best companions, and had in them a sympathy to sooth his
inward emotion ? Was He not in the case of a parent hanging over an
infant, and weeping upon it, from the very consciousness of its help-
lessness and insensibility to the love poured out upon it ? But the pa-
rent weeps from the feeling of her weakness to defend it ? knowing that
what is now a child must grow up and take its own course, and (whether
for earthly or heavenly good) must depend, not on her, but on the

» John xxi. 17.


Creator and on itself. Christ's was a different contemplation ; yet at-
tended with its own peculiar emotion. I mean the feeling that He had
power to raise up Lazarus. Joseph wept, as having a secret, not only
of the past, but of the future ; — of good in store as well as of evil done, —
of good which it was in his own power to confer. And our Lord and
Saviour knew that, while all seemed so dreary and hopeless, in spite of
the tears and laments of his friends, in spite of the corpse four days old,
the grave and the stone which was upon it. He had a spell which could
overcome death, and He was about to use it. Is there any time more
affecting than Avhen you are about to break good news to a friend who
has been stricken down by tidings of ill ?

4. Alas ! there were other thoughts still to call forth His tears. This
marvellous benefit to the forlorn sisters, how was it to be attained ? at
His own cost. Joseph knew he could bring joy to his brethren, but at

Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanParochial sermons (Volume 1) → online text (page 58 of 76)