John Henry Newman.

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He had rather the present day should be proved captious, than a former
day mistaken.

But to return : Mhat a world of sympathy and comfort is thus opened
to us in the communion of Saints ! The heathen, who sought truth
most earnestly, fainted for want of companions ; every one stood by
himself. They were tempted to think that all their best feelings were
but an empty name, and that it mattered not whether they served God
or disobeyed Him. But Christ has " gathered together the children of
God that were scattered abroad," and brought them near to each other
in every time and place. Are we young, and in temptation or trial 1
we cannot be in worse circumstances than Joseph. Are we in sickness ?
Job will surpass us in sufferings as in patience. Are we in perplexities
and aruxieties, with conflicting duties of a bewildered path, having to
please unkind superiors, yet without offending God ? so grievous a trial
as David's we cannot have, when Saul persecuted him. Is it our duty
to witness for the truth among sinners ? No Christian can at this day
be so hardly circumstanced as Jeremiah. Have we domestic trials ? Job,
Jacob, and David, were afflicted in their children. It is easy indeed to
say all this, and many a man may hear it said and not feel moved by it.


and conceive it is a mere matter of words, easy and fitting indeed to
say, but a cold consolation in actual sufTering. And I will own that a
man cannot profit by these considerations all at once. A man, who
has never thought of the history of the Saints, will gain little benefit
from it on first taking up the subject when he comes into trouble. He
will turn from it disappointed. He may say, " my pain or m.y trial is
not the less because another had it a thousand years since." But the
consolation in question comes not in the way of argument but by habit.
A tedious journey seems shorter when gone in company, yet, be the
travellers many or few, each goes over the same ground.

Such is the Christian's feeling towards all Saints, but it is especially
excited by the Church of Christ and by all that belong to it. For what
is that Church but a pledge and proof of God's never-dying love and
power from age to age ? He set it up in mercy to mankind, and its
presence among us is a proof that in spite of our sins He has not yet for-
saken us ; — "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us." He set it up on the
foundation of His Twelve Apostles, and promised that the gates of hell
should not prevail against it ; and its presence among us is a proof of
His power. He set it up to succeed to the four monster kingdoms
which then were ; and it lived to see those kingdoms of the earth crum-
ble into dust and come to nought. It lived to see society new formed
upon the model of the governments which last to this day. It lives still»
and it is older than them all. Much and rightly as we reverence old
lineage, noble birth, and illustrious ancestry, yet the royal dynasty of
the Apostles is far older than all the kingly families which are now on
the earth. Every Bishop of the Church whom we behold, is a lineal
descendant of St. Peter and St. Paul after the order of a spiritual birth ;
— a noble thought, if we could realize it ! True it is that at various
times the Bishops have forgotten their high rank and acted unworthily
of it. So have kings and princes, yet noble they were by blood in spite
of their personal errors, and the line of their family is not broken or de-
graded thereby. And in like manner, true though it be that the de-
scendants of the Apostles have before now lived to this world, have
fancied themselves of this world, have thought their ofiice secular and
civil, or if religious, yet at least "of men and by man," not " by Jesus
Christ," have judged it much to have riches, or to sit in high places, or
to have rank and consideration, or to have the fame of letters, or to be
king's counsellors, or to live in courts, — yet, granting the utmost, for
all this they are not the less inspiring an object to a believing mind,
which sees in each of them the earnest of His promise, " 1 will never
leave thee nor forsake thee." He said, He would be with His Church :
He has continued it alive to this day. He has continued the line of


His Apostles onwards through every age and all trcllcs and perils of
the world. Here then, surel}', is somewhat of encuaiagement for us
amid our lonehness and weakness. The presenceof every Bishop sug-
gests a long history of conflicts and trials, sufferings and victories, hopes
and fears, through many centuries. His presence at this day is the
fruit of them all. He is the living monument of those who are dead.
He is the promise of a bold fight and a good confession and a cheerful
martyrdom now, if needful, as was done by those of old time. We see
their figures on our walls, and their tombs are under our feet ; and we
trust, nay, we are sure, that God will be to us in our day what He was
to them. In the words of the P.salmist, " The Lord hath been mindful
of us : He will bless us : He will bless the house of Israel, He will bless
the house of Aaron."*

And more especially does the sight of our living Apostles bring be-
fore our thoughts the more favoured of their line, who, at different times,
have fought the good fight of faith valiantly and gloriously. Blessed
be God, He has given us to know them as if we had lived in their day
and enjoyed their pattern and instructions. Alas ! in spite of the va-
riety of books now circulated among all classes of the community, how
little is known about the Saints of past times ! How is this ? has
Christ's Church failed in any age ? or have His witnesses betrayed
their trust ? are they not our bone and our flesh 1 Have they not par-
taken the same spiritual food as ourselves and the same spiritual drink,
used the same prayers, and confessed the same creed ? If a man mere-
ly looks into the Prayer-book he will meet there with names about
which, perhaps, he knows and cares nothing at all. A prayer we read
daily is called the prayer of St. Chrysostom ; a creed is called the
creed of St. Anthanasius ; another creed is called the Nicene Creed ;
in the Articles we read of St. Augustine and St. Jerome ; in the Homi-
lies of many other such besides. What do these names mean 1 Sad
it is, you have no heart to inquire after or celebrate those who are fel-
low-citizens with you, and your great benefactors ! Men of this world
spread each other's fame, — they vaunt loudly ; — you see in every street
the names and the statues of the children of men, you hear of their ex-
ploits in speeches and histories ; yet you care not to know concerning
those to whom you are indebted for the hght of Gospel truth. Truly
they were in their day men of God ; they were rulers and teachers in
the Church ; they had received by succession of hands the power first
given to the Apostles and now to us. They laboured and suffered and
fainted not, and their writings remain to this day. Now a person who

• Paalms cxv. 12.
Vol. I— 38


cultivates this thought, finds therein, throygh God's mercy, great en-
couragement. Say he is alone, his faith counted a dream, and his ef-
forts to do good a folly, what then ? He knows there have been times
when his opinions were those of the revered and influential, and the
opinions now in repute only not reprobated because they were not heard
of. He knows that present opinions are the accident of the day, and
that they will fall as they have risen. They will surely fall even
though at a distant date! Hj labours for that time; he labours for
five hundred years to come. He can bear in faith to wait five hundred
years, to wait for an era long, long after he has mouldered into dust.
The Apostles lived eighteen hundred years since ; and as far as the
Christian looks back, so far as he can afford to look forward. There is
one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, from first
to last.

I referred just now to our Sacred Services ; these again may be made
to furnish a support to our faith and hope. He who comes to Church
to worship God, be he high or low, enters into that heavenly world of
Saints of which I have been speaking. For in the Services of worship
we elicit and realize the invisible. I know, indeed, that Christ is then
especially present, and vouchsafes to bless us ; but I am speaking all
along of the help given to us by sensible objects, and, even in this lower
view, doubtless much is done for us in the course of divine worship.
We read from the Bible of the Saints who have gone before us, and we
make mention of them in our prayers. We thank God for them, we
praise God with them, we pray God to visit us in mercy as He visited
them. And every earthly thought or principle is excluded. The world
no longer rules as it does abroad ; no longer teaches, praises, blames,
scoffs, wonders, according to its own false standard. It is merely
spoken of as one of the three great enemies whom we are sworn to
resist ; it holds its proper place ; and its doom is confidently predicted,
the final victory of the Church over it. And, farther, it is much more
impressive to hear and to see, than to read in a book. When we read
the Bible and religious books in private, there is great comfort ; but our
minds are commonly more roused and encouraged in Church, when we
see those great truths displayed and represented which Scripture speaks
of. There we see " Jesus Christ evidently set forth, crucified among
us." The ordinances which we behold, force the unseen truth upon
our senses. The very disposition of the building, the subdued light,
the aisles, the Altar, with its pious adornments, are figures of things
unseen, and stimulate our fainting faith. We seem to see the heavenly
courts, with Angels chanting, and Apostles and Prophets listening, as
we read their writings in due course. And thus, even attendance on


A Sunday, may, through God's mercy, avail even in the case of those
who have not given themselves up to Him, — not to their salvation (for
no one can be saved by one or two observances merely, or without a
life of faith,) but so far as to break in upon their dream of sin, and give
them thoughts and notions which may be the germ of future good.
Even to those, I say, who live to the world, the mere Sunday attend-
ance at Church is a continual memento on their conscience, giving
them a glimpse of things unseen, and rescuing them in a measure from
the servitude of Mammon or of Belial. And therefore it is, that Satan's
first attempt, when he would ruin a soul, is to prevail upon him to dese-
crate the Lord's day. And if such is the effect of coming to Church
once a week, even to an undecided or carnal mind, how much more
impressive and invigorating are the Services to serious men who come
daily or frequently ! Surely such attendance is a safeguard, such as
amulets are said to be, a small thing to all appearance, but effectual.
I say it with confidence, he who observes it will grow in time a differ-
ent man from what he was, God working in him. His heart will be
more heavenly and aspiring ; the world will lie under his feet ; he will
be proof against its opinions, threats, blandishments, ridicule. His
very mode of viewing things, his very voice, his manner, gait, and
countenance, will speak of Heaven to those who know him well, though
the many see nothing in him.

The many understand him not, and even in St. Paul or St. John
would see but ordinary men. Yet at times such a one will speak effec-
tually even to the many. In seasons of unusual distress or alarm, when
men's minds faint for fear, then he will have a natural power over the
world, and will seem to speak not as an individual, but as if in him was
concentrated all the virtue and the grace of those many Saints who
have been his life-long companions. He has lived with those who are
dead, and he will seem to the world as one coming from the dead,
speaking in the name of the dead, using the language of souls dead to
things that are seen, revealing the mysteries of the heavenly world, and
awing and controlling those who are wedded to this. What slight
account did the centurion and the crew make of St. Paul, till a tempest
had long time " lain on them" and " all hope that they should be saved
was then taken away !" But then, though he had done no miracle,
" he stood forth in the midst," exhorted and encouraged them, bade them
take meat, acted as their priest, giving thanks to God and breaking
bread in the presence of them all, and so made them "of good cheer."
Such is the gift, deeply lodged and displayed at times, of those who
iave ascended into the third heaven. One living Saint, though there


be but one, is a pledge of the whole Church Invisible. Let this thought
console us as it ought to do ; let it have its full influence in us, and
possess us. Let us " lift up our hearts," let us " lift them up unto the



2 Corinthians iii. 18.

We 'all with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed
into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Moses prayed for this one thing, that he might " see God's glory ;" and
he was allowed to behold it in such measure, that, when he came down
from the Mount, *' the skin of his face shone," so that the people "were
afraid to come nigh him." This privilege was vouchsafed only to him
in this intimate way, and that but once ; but a promise was given that
at some future time it should be extended to the whole earth. God said
to him, " As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of
the Lord," that glory which the Israelites had seen in glimpses and had
profaned. Afterwards the prophets Isaiah and Habakkuk foretold, in
like manner, that the earth should be filled with the Lord's glory and
the knowledge of it. When Christ came, these promises were fulfilled,
for, " we beheld His glory," St. John says, " the glory as of the Only-
begotten of the Father."*

In the chapter which ends with the text, St. Paul contrasts the sha-
dows and earnests under the Law, of " the glory that should follow"
Christ's coming with that glory itself. He says that he and his brother
Apostles are " not as Moses, who put a veil over his face." At length
the glory of God in full measure was the privilege and birthright of all

• Ex. xxxiv. 30. Numb. xiv. 21. Ib. xi. 9. Hab. ii. 14. John i. 14.


believers, who now, " in the unveiled face of Christ their Saviour, be-
held the reflection of the Lord's glory," and were " changed into His
likeness from one measure of glory to another." Our Saviour's words
in his last prayer for His Apostles, and for all His disciples as included
under them, convey to us the same gracious truth. He says, " The
glory which Thou gavest Me, I have given them.*

This glorious Dispensation, under which the Church now exists, is
called by St. Paul, in the same chapter, "the ministration of the Spirit;"
and again in the text, we are said to be changed into the glorious image
of Christ "by the Spirit of the Lord."

And further, the Church, as being thus honoured and exalted by the
presence of the Spirit of Christ, is called " the Kingdom of God," the
•'Kingdom of Heaven ;" as, for instance, by our Lord Himself " The
Kingdom of Heaven is at hand :" " Except a man be born of water
and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God."!

I propose now to make some remarks on this peculiar gift of the Gos-
pel Dispensation, which, as in the foregoing passages, is spoken of as
the gift of "the Spirit," the gift of "glory," and through which the
Church has become what it was not before, the Kingdom of Heaven.

And here, before entering upon the subject, I would observe that as
there is a sense in which the grant of glory was made even under the
Law, as in its miracles, (as when the Israelites are condemned for hav-
ing " seen the glory of the Lord and His miracles," and yet " not
having hearkened to His voice,"|) so in another point of view it belongs
exclusively to the promised blessedness hereafter. Still there is a real
and sufficient sense in which it is ascribed to the Christian Church, and
what this is, is the question now before us.

1. In the first place, some insight is given into the force of the word
" glory" as our present privilege, by considering the meaning of the
title " Kingdom of Heaven," which, as has been just observed, has also
belonged to the Church since Christ came. The Church is called by
this name as being the court and domain of Almighty God, who retreat-
ed from the earth, as far as His kingly presence was concerned, when
man fell. Not that He left Himself without witness in any age, but,
even in His most gracious manifestations, still He conducted Himself as
if in an enemy's country, " as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfar-
ing man that turneth aside to tarry for a night. "§ But when Christ
had reconciled Him to His fallen creatures, He returned according to
the prophecy, " I will dwell in them, and walk in them ; I will set my

• John ivii. 22. t Matt. x. 7. John iii. 5.

t Numb. xiv. 22. ^ Jer. xiv. 8.


sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore."* From that time there
has really been a heaven upon earth, in fulfilment of Jacob's vision.
Thenceforth the Church was not a carnal ordinance, made of perisha-^
ble materials, like the Jewish Tabernacle, which had been a type of the
Dispensation to which it belonged. It became " a kingdom which can-
not be moved," being sweetened, purified, and spiritualized by the pour-
ing out of Christ's blood in it. It became once more an integral part
of that unseen, but really existing world, of which " the Lord is the
everlasting Light ;" and it had fellowship with its blessed inhabitants. .
St. Paul thus describes it in his epistle to the Hebrews : " Ye are come
to Mount Sion ;" to the true " mountain of the Lord's House," of which
the earthly Sion was a type — " and to the city of the Living God, the
heavenly Jerusalem," — that is, as he elsewhere calls it, " the Jerusalem
that is above," or, as he speaks in another place, " our citizenship is in
heaven," — " and to an innumerable company of Angels, to the festive
concourse and Church of the First-born enrolled in heaven, and to God
the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the perfected Just, and to Jesus
the Mediator of the New Covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that
speaketh better things than that of Abel."t

Since then the Christian Church is a Heaven upon earth, it is not
surprising that in some sense or other its distinguishing privilege or gift
should be glory, for this is the one attribute which we ever attach to our
notion of Heaven itself, according to the Scripture intimations concern-
ing it. The glory here may be conceived of by considering what we
believe of the glory hereafter.

2. Next, if we consider the variety and dignity of the gifts minister-
ed by the Spirit, we shall, perhaps, discern, in a measure, why our state
under the Gospel is called a state of glory. It is not uncommon in the
present day, to divide the works of the Holy Ghost in the Church into
two kinds, miraculous and moral. By miraculous are meant such as
He manifested in the first ages of the Gospel, marvels out of the course
of nature, addressed to our senses ; such as the power of healing, of
raising the dead, and the like ; or, again, such as speaking with tongues
or prophecy. On the other hand, by moral operations or influences are
meant such as act upon our minds, and enable us to be what we other-
wise could not be, holy and accepted in all branches of the Christian .
character ; in a word, all such as issue in sanctification as it is called.
These distinct works of the Holy Spirit, viewed in their effects, are
commonly called extraordinary and ordinary, or gifts and graces ; and
it is usual to say, that gifts have ceased, and graces alone remain to us^.

» a Cor. yi. 16. Ez. xxivii.26. t Heb. xii. 22—24.


and, hence to limit the present " ministration of the Spirit " to certain
influences on our moral nature, to the office of changing, renewing, pu-
rifying the heart and mind, implanting a good will, imparting knowledge
of our duty and power to do it, and cultivating and maturing within us
all right desires and habits, and leading us to all holy works. Now, all
these influences and operations certainly do belong to the " ministration
of the Spirit ;" but in what appropriate sense can any effects wrought
in us be called " glory ?" Add to them the miracles which now have
ceased, and you will indeed gain a more intelligible meaning of the
word, but not even then any meaning peculiar to the Gospel. The
Jewish Church was gifted by a more abiding super-human presence
than the Christian, and with as over-powering miracles, yet it did not
possess this privilege of glory. Again, its patriarchs and teachers rose
to degrees of sanctification quite as much above our power of measuring
them as those attained by Apostles and Martyrs under the Gospel ; nor,
to all human appearance, is the actual sanctification of the mass of
Christians more true or complete than was that of the Jews : how then
are we in a state of glory, and the Jewish Church not ? Granting then
that the gift of the Spirit mentioned in Scripture, includes in it both
the miracles of the first ages and the influences of grace ; — granting
also, that the sanctifying grace bestowed on each Christian is given
with far greater fulness, variety, and power, than it was vouchsafed to
the Jews, whether it be eventually quenched or not ; granting too that
holiness is really the characteristic of that gift which the Holy Spirit
ministers now, as miracles were its outward manifestation in the first
ages ; — still all this is not a sufficient account of it ; it is not equivalent
to our great Gospel privilege, which is something deeper, wider, and
more mysterious, though including both miracles and graces. In truth,
the Holy Ghost has taken up His abode in the Church as a sevenfold

A little consideration will show this. For instance, is the gift of the
body's immortality miraculous or moral ? Neither, in the common sense
of the words ; yet it is a gift bestowed on us in this life and by the power
of the Holy Ghost, according to the texts, " Your body is the temple
of the Holy Ghost ;" and " He that raised up Christ from the dead shall
also quicken your mortal bodies by His indwelling Spirit." * Again,
is justification, or the application of Christ's merits to the soul, moral
or miraculous ? Neither ; yet we are told, that we are " washed, hal-
lowed, justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our
God." t Or, is the gift of the Holy Ghost in Ordination miraculous or

♦ 1 Cor, vi. 19. Rom. viii. 11. t 1 Cor. vi. U.


moral ? It is neither the one nor the other, but a supernatural power
of ministering efTectually in holy things. Once more, is communion
with Christ miraculous or moral 1 On the contrary, it is a real but
mysterious union of nature with Him, according to the text ; " we are
members of His body, from His flesh, and from His bones.''* Such
reflections as these are calculated, perhaps, to give us somewhat of a
deeper view than is ordinarily admitted, of the character of that gift
which attends on the presence of the Holy Ghost in the Church, and
which is called the gift of glory. I do not say that any thing that has
been just said has been sufficient to define it ; rather I would maintain,
that it cannot be defined. It cannot be limited ; it cannot be divided,
and exhausted by a division. This is the very faultiness of the division
into miraculous and moral, useful as this may be for particular purposes,
that it professes to embrace what is in fact incomprehensible and un-
fathomable. I would fain keep from the same mistake ; and the in-
stances already given may serve this purpose, enlarging our view with-
out bounding it. The gift is denoted in Scripture by the vague and
mysterious term •' glory ;" and all the descriptions we can give of it can
only, and should only, run out into a mystery.

3. Perhaps, however, it may be questioned, whether the gift of the
Spirit, now possessed by us, is really called by this name ; with a view

Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanParochial sermons (Volume 1) → online text (page 66 of 76)