John Henry Newman.

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source of meditation is opened on us, while we look upon what seems
so helpless, so reasonless, and know that at that moment it has a soul
so fully formed, as on the one hand, indeed, to be a child of wrath ;
and on the other (blessed be God) to be capable of a new birth through
the Spirit ? Who can say, if we had eyes to see, in what state that
infant soul is 1 Who can say it has not its energies of reason and of
will in some unknown sphere, quite consistently with the reality of its
Vol. L— 35


insensibility to the external world ? Who can say that all of us, or at
least all who arc living in the faith of Christ, have not some strange
but unconscious life in God's presence all the while we are here, — seeing
what we do not know we see, impressed yet without power of reflection,

and this, without having a double self in consequence, and with an

increase to us, not a diminution, of the practical reality of our earthly
sojourn and probation 1 Are there not men before now who, like Elisha,
when his spirit followed Gehazi, or St. Peter when he announced the
coming of Sapphira's bearers, or St. Paul when his presence went be-
fore him to Corinth,* seem to range beyond themselves, even while in
the flesh ? Who knows where he is " in visions of the night ?" And
this being so, how can we pronounce it to be any contradiction that,
while the Word of God was upon earth, in our flesh, compassed within
and without with human virtues and feelings, with faith and patience,
fear and joy, doubt, misgivings, infirmities, temptations, still He was,
according to His Divine Nature, as from the first, passing in thought
from one end of heaven even to the other, reading all hearts, foreseeing
all events, and receiving all worship as in the bosom of the Father?
This, indeed, is what He suggests to us Himself in those surprising
words addressed to Nicodemus, which imply that even His human
nature was at that very time in heaven while He spoke to him. " No
man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven,
even the Son of man which is in heaven."-\

To conclude, if any one is tempted to consider such subjects as the
foregoing, abstract, speculative, and unprofitable, I would observe, in
answer, that I have taken it on the very ground of its being, as I be-
lieve, especially practical. Let it not be thought a strange thing to
say, though I say it, that there is much in the religious belief, even of
the more serious part of the community at present, to make observant
men very anxious where it will end. It would be no very difficult
matter, I suspect, to perplex the faith of a great many persons who
believe themselves to be orthodox, and indeed are so according to their
light. They have been accustomed to call Christ, God, but that is all ;
they have not considered what is meant by applying that title to one
who was really a man, and from the vague way in which they use it,
they M'ould be in no small danger, if assailed by a subtle disputant, of
being robbed of the sacred truth in its substance, even if they kept it
in name. In truth, until we contemplate our Lord and Saviour, God
and man, as a really existing being, external to our minds, as complete
and entire in His personality as we appear to be to each other, as one

* 2 Kings 7. 26. Acts v. 9. 1 Cor. iv. 19. v. 3. t John iii. 13.


and the same in all His various and contrary attributes, " the same
yesterday, to-day, and for ever," we are using words which profit not.
Till then we do not realize that Object of faith, which is not a mere
name on which titles and properties may be atfixed without congruity
and meaning, but has a personal existence and an identity distinct from
every thing else. In what true sense do we " know" Him, if our idea
of Him be not such as to take up and incorporate into itself the mani-
fold attributes and offices which we ascribe to Him ? What do we gain
from words, however correct and abundant, if they end with themselves,
instead of fighting up the image of the incarnate Son in our hearts ?
Yet this charge may too surely be brought against the theology of late
centuries, which, under the pretence of guarding against presumption,
denies us what is revealed ; like Ahaz, refusing to ask for a sign, lest
it should tempt the Lord. Influenced by it, we have well nigh forgot-
ten the sacred truth, graciously disclosed for our support, that Christ is
the Son of God in His Divine nature as well as his human ; we have
well nigh ceased to regard Him, after the pattern of the Nicene Creed,
as " God from God, and Light from Light," ever one with Him yet ever
separate from Him. We speak of Him in a vague way as God, which
is true, but not the whole truth ; and, in consequence, when we proceed
to consider His humiliation, we are unable to carry on the notion of His
personality from heaven to earth. He who was but now spoken of as
God without mention of the Father from whom He is, is next described
as a creature ; but how do these distinct notions of Him hold together
in our minds ? We are able to continue the idea of a Son into that of
a servant, though the descent was infinite, and, to our reason, incom-
prehensible ; but when we merely speak first of God, then of man, we
seem to change the Nature without preserving the Person. In truth,
His Divine Sonship is that portion of the sacred doctrine on which the
mind is providentially intended to rest throughout, and so to preserve
for itself His identity unbroken. But when we abandon this gracious
help afforded to our faith, how can we hope to gain one true and simple
vision of Him ? how shall we possibly look I)eyond our own words, or
apprehend, in any sort, what we say ? In consequence we are too often
led, as a matter of necessity, in discoursing of His words and works, to
distinguish between the Christ who lived on earth and the Son of God
Most High, speaking of His human nature and His Divine nature so
separately as not to feel or understand that God is man and man is God.
I am speaking of those of us who have learned to reflect, reason, and
dispute, to inquire and pursue their thoughts, not of the incurious or
ilfiterate, who arc not exposed to the temptation in question ; and of
the former I fear I must say, (to use the language of ancient theology,)


that they begin by being Sabellians, that they go on to be Nestorians,
and that they tend to be Ebionites and to deny Christ's divinity alto-
gether. Meanwhile the religious world Httle thinks whither its opin-
ions are leading ; and will not discover that it is adoring a mere ab-
stract name or a vague creation of the mind for the Ever-living Son,
till the defection of its members from the faith startle it, and teach it
that the so-called religion of the heart, without orthodoxy of doctrine,
is but the warmth of a corpse, real for a time, but sure to fail.

How long will that complicated Error last under which our Church
now labours ? How long are human traditions of modern date to ob-
scure, in so many ways, the majestic interpretations of Holy Writ
which the Church Cathohc has inherited from the age of the Apostles ?
When shall we be content to enjoy the wisdom and the pureness which
Christ has bequeathed to His Church as a perpetual gift, instead of
attempting to draw our creed, each for himself, as he best may, from
the deep wells of truth ? Surely in vain have we escaped from the
errors of Rome, if the worse, because the more subtle, corruptions of a
rash and self-trusting philosophy spread over our faith !

May God, even the Father, give us a heart and understanding to
realize, as well as to confess that doctrine into which we were baptized,
that His Only-begotten Son our Lord was conceived by the Holy
Ghost, was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered, and was buried, rose
again from the dead, ascended into heaven, from whence He shall come
again at the end of the world, to judge the quick and the dead !



Judges v. 31.

So let all thine enemies perisli, O Lord ; but let them that love Him, be as the
sun when he goeth forth in his might. And the land had rest forty years.

What a contrast do these words present to the history which goes
before them ! " It came to pass," says the sacred writer, " when Israel
was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly
drive them out. Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites that
dwelt in Gezer . . . Neither did Zebulon drive out the inhabitants of
Kitron . . . Neither did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho . . .
Neither did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Bethshemesh."*
What was the consequence 1 " And the children of Israel did evil in
the sight of the Lord and served Baalim . . . they forsook the Lord
and served Baal and Ashtaroth. And the anger of the Lord was hot
against Israel, and He dehvered them into the hands of spoilers that
spoiled them, and He sold them into the hands of their enemies round
about . . . AVhithersoever they went out, the hand of the Lord was
against them for evil, as the Lord had said, and as the Lord had sworn
unto them ; and they were greatly distressed."! Here is the picture
of indolence and unfaithfulness leading to cowardice, to apostasy, and
to national ruin.

On the other hand, consider, by way of contrast, the narrative con-
tained in the chapter which ends with the text. Ephraim and Benja-
min, Machir and Zebulon, Issachar and Naphtali, rousing, uniting,
assailing their enemies, and conquering ; conquering in the strength of
the Lord. Their long captivity was as nothing, through God's great
mercy, when they turned to Him. In vain had their enemies trod them
down to the ground ; the Church of God had that power and grace

• Judges i. 28—32. t Judges ii. 11—15.;

550 JEWISH ZEAL, [Seem.

within it, that, whenever it could be persuaded to shake off its lassitude
and rally, it smote as sharply and as effectively as though it had never
been bound with the green withes and the new ropes of the Phihstines.
So it was now. " Awake, awake, Deborah : awake, awake, utter a
song : arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abi-
noam." Such was the inspired cry of war : and it was obeyed. In
consequence the Canaanites were discomfited in battle and fled ; "and
the land had rest forty years." Here is a picture of manly obedience
to God's will, — a short trial of trouble and suffering, — and then the
reward, peace.

I propose now to make some remarks upon the lesson conveyed to us
in this history, which extends indeed through the greater part of the
Old Testament, — the lesson to us as individuals ; for surely it is with
reference to our own duties as individuals^ that we should read every
part of Scripture.

What the Old Testament especially teaches us is this : — that zeal is
as essentially a duty of all God's rational creatures, as prayer and
praise, faith and submission ; and, surely, if so, especially of sinners
whom He has redeemed ; that zeal consists in a strict attention to His
commands — a scrupulousness, vigilance, heartiness, and punctuality
which bears with no reasoning or questioning about them, — an intense
thirst for the advancement of His glory, — a shrinking from the pollu-
tion of sin and sinners, — an indignation, nay impatience, at witnessing
His honour insulted, — a quickness of feeling when His name is men-
tioned, and a jealousy how it is mentioned, — a fulness of purpose, an
heroic determination to yield Him service at whatever sacrifice of per-
sonal feeling, — an energetic resolve to push through all difiiculties,
were they as mountains, when His eye or hand but gives the sign, — a
carelessness of obloquy, or reproach, or persecution, a forgetfulness of
friend and relative, nay a hatred (so to say) of all that is naturally
dear to us, when He says " Follow Me." These are some of the char-
acteristics of zeal. Such was the temper of Moses, Phinehas, SamueL,
David, Elijah ; it is the temper enjoined on all the Israelites, especially
in their conduct towards the abandoned nations of Canaan. The text
expresses that temper in the words of Deborah : " So let all thine ene-
mies perish, O Lord ; but let them that love Him, be as the sun when
he goeth forth in his might."

Now, it has sometimes been said that the commands of strenuous
and stern service given to the Israelites, — for instance, relative to their
taking and keeping possession of the promised land, — do not apply to ua
Christians. There can be no doubt it is not our duty to take the
sword and kill the enemies of God, as the Jews were told to do ; " Put


up again thy sword into his place,"* are our Saviour's words to St J
Peter. So far, then, if this is what is meant by saying that these com-
mands do not apply to us, so far, doubtless, it is clear they do not
apply to us. But it does not, hence, follow that the temper of mind
which they pre-suppose and foster is not required of us ; else, surely,
the Jewish history is no longer profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for
correction, for instruction in righteousness. St. Peter was blamed, not
for his zeal, but for his use of the sword.

Man's duty, perfection, happiness, have always been one and the
same. He is not a different being now from what he ever was ; he
has always been commanded the same duties. What was the holiness
of an Israelite is still the holiness of a Christian, though the Christian
has far higher privileges and aids for perfection. The Saints of God
have ever lived by faith, and walked in the way of justice, mercy, truth,
self-mastery, and love. It is impossible, then, that all these duties im-
posed on the Israelites of driving out their enemies, and taking and
keeping possession of the promised land, should not in some sense or
other apply to us ; for it is clear, they were not in their case mere acci-
dents of obedience, but went to form a certain inward character, and
as clear is it that our hearts must be as the heart of Moses or David, if
we would be saved through Christ.

This is quite evident, if we attentively examine the Jewish history
and the divine commands which are the principles of it. For these
commands, which some persons have said do not apply to us, are so
many and varied, and repeated at so many and diverse times, that they
certainly must have formed a peculiar character in the heart of the obedi-
ent Israelite, and were much more than an outward form and a sort of
ceremonial service. They are so abundant throughout the Old Testament,,
that, unless they in some way apply to us, it is difficult to see what is
its direct use, at this day, in the way of precept ; and this is the very
conclusion which these same persons often go on to draw. They are
willing to rid themselves of the Old Testament, and they say that
Christians are not concerned in it, and that the Jews were almost
barbarians ; whereas St. Paul tells us, that the Jewish history is " writ-
ten for our admonition and our learning."!

Let us consider some of the commands I have referred to, and the
terms in which they are conveyed. For instance, that for the extirpa-
tion of the devoted nations from the land of Canaan. " When the
Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to pos-
sess it, . . . thou shalt smite " the nations that possess it, " and utterly

* Matt. xxvi. 52. f 1 Cor. x. 11. Rom. xv. 4.


destroy them ; thou shall make no covenant with them, nor show
mercy unto them ; neither shalt thou make marriages with them ....
Ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut
down their groves, and burn down their graven images with fire. . . .
Thou shalt consume all the people which the Lord thy God shall de-
liver thee ; thine eye shall have no pity upon them."*

Next observe, this merciless temper, as profane people would call it,
but as well-instructed Christians say, this Godly zeal, was enjoined
upon them under far more distressing circumstances, viz. the trans-
gressions of their own relations and friends. " If thy brother, the son
of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or
thy friend which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying. Let

us go and serve other gods Thou shalt not consent unto him,

nor hearken unto him, neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou
spare, neither shalt thou conceal them. But thou shalt surely kill him.
Thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the
hand of all the people."! Now, doubtless, we at this day are not to put
men to death for idolatry ; but, doubtless also, whatever temper of mind
the fulfilment of this command implied in the .Tew, such, essentially, must
be our temper of mind, whatever else it may be also ; for God cannot
speak two laws, He cannot love two characters, — good is good, and evil is
evil, and the law He gave to the Jews was, in its substance, " perfect,
converting the soul ; the testimony of the Lord sure, making wise the
simple; the statutes of the Lord right, rejoicing the heart ; the command-
ment of the Lord pure, enlightening the eyes; .... more to be desired
than gold, yea than much fine gold ; sweeter also than honey and the
honeycomb. Moreover," as the Psalmist proceeds, " by them is Thy
servant taught, and in keeping of them there is great reward.":}:

A self-mastering fearless obedience was another part of this same
religious temper enjoined on the Jews, and still incumbent, as I dare
affirm, on us Christians. *' Be ye very courageous to keep and to do
all that is written in the book of the law of Moses."§ It required an
exceeding moral courage in the Jews to enable them to go straight
forward, seduced neither by their feelings nor their reason.

Nor was the severe temper under review a duty in the early ages of
Judaism only. The book of Psalms was written at difierent times, be-
tween David's age and the captivity, yet it plainly breathes the same
hatred of sin, and opposition to sinners. I will but cite one text from
the hundredth and thirty-ninth Psalm. " Do not I hate them, O Lord,

» Deut. vii. 1—5. 16. t Deut. xiii. 6—9.

t Ps. xix. 7, 8. 10, 1 1. § Josh, xxiii. 6.


that hate Thee ? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against
Thee ? I hate them with perfect hatred ; I count them mine enemies."
And then the inspired writer proceeds to lay open his soul before God,
as if conscious he had but expressed feelings which He would approve.
" Search me, O God, and know my heart ; try me, and know my
thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the
way everlasting."

Further still, after the return from the captivity, after the Prophets had
enlarged the compass of Divine Revelation, and purified and heightened
the religious knowledge of the nation, still this rigid and austere zeal
was enjoined and enforced in all its ancient vigour by Ezra. The
Jews set about a reformation ; and what was its most remarkable act ?
Let us attend to the words of Ezra : "The princes came to me, saying,
The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites have not separat-
ed themselves from the people of the lands ; for they have taken of their
daughters for themselves and for their sons ; so that the holy seed have
mingled themselves with the people of those lands ; yea, the hand of
the princess and rulers hath been chief in this trespass." Now let me
stop to ask what would most likely be the conduct of a temporizing
Christian of this day, had he, in that day, been in Ezra's place ? He
would, doubtless, have said that such marriages were quite unjustifiable
certainly, but now that they were made, there was no remedy for it ;
that they must be hindered in future ; but, in the existing instances, the
evil being done could not be undone; — and, besides, the great men were
involved in the sin, whom it was impossible to interfere with. This he
would have said, I think, though the prohibition of Moses seemed to
make such marriages null and void from the first. Now, I do not say
that every one ought to have done what Ezra did, for he was super-
naturally directed ; but would the course he adopted have ever entered
into the mind of men of this day, or can they even understand or ac-
quiesce in it, now that they know it 1 for what did he ? " And when I
heard this thing," he says, " I rent my garment and my mantle, and
plucked off the hair of my head, and of my beard, and sat down aston-
ished. Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the
words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had
been carried away, and I sat astonished until the evening sacrifice."*
Then he oflbrcd a confession and intercession in behalf of the people ;
then at length he and the people came to a decision ; which was no
other than this, — to command all persons, who had married foreign
wives, to put them away. He undid the evil, as well as hindered it in

* Ezra ix. 3, 4.

554 JEWISH ZEAL, [Serk.

future. What an act of self-denying zeal was this in a multitude of
people !

These are some, out of many instances which might be brought from
the Jewish history, in proof of the duty of strict and severe loyalty to
God and His revealed will ; and I here adduce them, first, to show that
the commands involving it could not, (their number and variety are so
great,) could not have related to a merely outward and ceremonial
obedience, but must have wrought in the Jews a certain temper of
mind, pleasing to God, and therefore necessary for us also to possess.
Next, I deduce from that same circumstance of their number and va-
riety, that they must be binding on us, else the Old Testament would
be but a shadow of a revelation or law to the Christian.

I wish to insist on the lesson supplied merely by the Old Testament^
and will not introduce into the argument the consideration of the Apos-
tle's doctrine, which is quite in accordance with it. Yet it may be
right, briefly, to refer to the sinless pattern of our Lord, and to what is
told us of the holy inhabitants of heaven, in order to show that the
temper of mind enjoined on the Jews belongs to those who are in a state
of being superior to us, as well as to those who were living under a de-
fective and temporary Dispensation. There was an occasion when our
Lord is expressly said to have taken upon Him the zeal which consumed
David. " Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and found in the Temple those
that sold oxen, and sheep, and doves, and the changers of money, sitting ;
and when He had made a scourge of small cords. He drove them all out
of the Temple, and the sheep, and the oxen ; and poured out the chang-
er's money, and overthrew the tables." Surely, unless we had this ac-
count given us by an inspired writer, we should not have believed it T
Influenced by notions of our own devising, we should have said, this
zealous action of our Lord was quite inconsistent with His merciful^
meek, and (what may be called) His majestic and serene temper of
mind. To put aside form, to dispense with the ministry of His attendant
Angels, to act before He had spoken His displeasure, to use His own
hand, to hurry to and fro, to be a servant in the work of purification,
surely this must have arisen from a fire of indignation at witnessing
His Father's House insulted, which we sinners cannot understand.
But any how, it is but the perfection of that temper which, as we have
seen, was encouraged and exemplified in the Jewish Church. That
energy, decision, and severity which Moses enjoined on his people, is
manifested in Christ Himself, and is, therefore, undeniably a duty of
man as such, whatever be his place or attainments in the scale of human

Such is the pattern afforded us by our Lord ; to which add the ex-


ample of the Angels which surround Him. Surely in Him is mingled,
" goodness and severity ;" such therefore, are all holy creatures, loving
and severe. We read of their thoughts and desires in the Apocalypse,
" Fear God, and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is
come." Again, " Thou art righteous, Lord, which art, and wast,
and shall be, because Thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the
blood of saints and prophets, and Thou hast given them blood to drink,
for they are worthy." And again, " Even so, Lord God Almighty,
true and righteous are thy judgments." Once more, " Her sins have

Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanParochial sermons (Volume 1) → online text (page 61 of 76)