John Henry Newman.

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of making this quite clear, I will here recite a number of passages in
order, in addition to those with which I began ; and while I do so, I
would have you observe in what close and continual connection the
" Spirit," and " glory," and " heaven" occur.

" The Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you."

*' The God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by
Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect."

" According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that
pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that
hath called us to glory and virtue."

" Whom He did predestinate, them He also called, and whom He
called, them He also justified, and whom He justified, them He also

" We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wis-
dom which God ordained before the world unto our glory .... Eye
hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of
man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him . . .
The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God ; for
they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they
are spiritually discerned."

• 2 Pet. i. 4. Eph. V. 30.


•' Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath
blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ."

[I pray] " that the God of our Lord Jesus Chrust, the Father of glory,
may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the know-
ledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that
ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of
the glory of His inheritance in the Saints, and what is the exceeding
greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the work-
ing of His mighty power which He wrought in Christ, when He raised
Him from the dead."

" God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved
us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with
Christ, (by grace ye are saved,) and hath raised us up together, and
made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. . . . Through

Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father In

■whom [Christ] ye also are budded together for an habitation of God
through the Spirit."

[I pray] " that He would grant you, according to the riches of His
glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man ;
that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith ; that ye, being rooted
and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend, with all saints, what
is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love
of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the
fulness of God.''

" Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it, that He might
sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word ; that He
might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or
wrinkle, or any such thing ; but that it should be holy and without

*' It is impossible for those who were once illuminated, and have
tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to
come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance."*

I would have you pay particular attention to this last passage, which,
in speaking of those who thwart God's grace, runs through the various
characteristics or titles of that glory which they forfeit : — illumination,
the heavenly gift, the Holy Ghost, the Divine Word, the powers of the
world to come ; which all mean the same thing, viewed in different
lights, viz. that unspeakable Gospel privilege, which is an earnest and

• 1 Pet. iv. 14 ; V. 10. 2 Pet. i. 3. Rom. viii. 30. 1 Cor. ii. 7. 9. 14. Eph. i.
3. 17—20 ; ii. 4—6. I8. 22 ; iii. 16—19 ; v. 25—27. Heb. vi. 4—6.


portion of heavenly glory, of the holiness and blessedness of Angels, —
a present entrance into the next world, opened upon our souls through,
participation of the Word Incarnate, ministered to us by the Holy

Such is the mysterious state in which Christians stand, if it be right
to enlarge upon it. They are in Heaven, in the world of Spirits, and
are placed in the way of all manner of invisible influences. " Their
conversation is in heaven ;" they live among angels, and are withia
reach (as I may say) of the Saints departed. They are ministers round
the throne of their reconciled Father, " kings and priests unto God,"
having their robes washed in the Lamb's blood, and being consecrated
as temples of the Holy Ghost. And this being so, we have some in-
sight into the meaning of St. Paul's anxiety that his brethren should
understand " the breadth and length," " the riches" of the glorious in-
heritance which they enjoined, and of his forcible declaration, on the
other hand, that " the natural man" could not " discern" it.

If we now recur to our Saviour's words already cited, we shall find
that all that the Apostles have told us in their Epistles is but an expan-
sion of two short sentences of His : " Except a man be born of water
and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into, or (as it is said just before) see
the Kingdom of God." " The glory which Thou gavest me, I have
given them."* On these texts I make the following additional re-
marks : — When Nicodemus doubted about our Lord's declaration, that
a birth through the Spirit was the entrance into His kingdom, He said,
" If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye be-
lieve if I tell you of heavenly things ? And no man hath ascended up
to Heaven, but He that came down from Heaven, even the Son of man
which is in Heaven." In these words our Lord plainly discloses that in
some mysterious way He, the Son of man, was really in Heaven, even
while, by human eyes. He was seen to be on earth. His discourse seema
to run thus : — "Are you offended at the doctrine of the new birth of
the soul into the kingdom of God 1 High as it is, it is but an earthly
truth compared with others I, as coming from Heaven, could disclose.
It is mysterious how regenerate man should be a citizen of a heavenly
kingdom, but I Myself, who speak, am at this moment in Heaven too^
even in this My human nature." Thus the greater Mystery of the In-
carnation is made to envelope and pledge to us the mystery of the new
birth. As He was in Heaven in an ineffable sense, even " in the days
of His flesh," so are we, in our degree ; according to the words of His
prayer, that His disciples might " all be one ; as Thou, Father, art in
Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us."f

• John iii. 5 : ivii. 22. t John xvii. 21.


But He was pleased to reveal this high truth more expHcitly on a
subsequent occasion, I mean in His transfiguration. To many persons
this portion of the Sacred History may have appeared without object or
meaning. It was, in one sense, a miracle ; yet it had no beneficent
purpose or lasting consequence, as is usual with our Lord's miracles,
and it took place in private. But, surely, it is of a doctrinal nature,
being nothing less than a figurative exhibition of the blessed truth con-
tained in the texts under review, a vision of the glorious Kingdom which
He set up on the earth on His coming. He said to His Apostles, " I
tell you of a truth, there be some standing here which shall not taste of
death till they see the kingdom of God." Then, " after six days Jesus
taketh Peter, James, and John his br other, and bringeth them up into
a high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them. And as He
prayed, the fashion of His countenance was altered, and His raiment
was white and glistening. And his face did shine as the sun, and His

raiment was white as the light And behold there talked with

Him two men, which were Moses and Elias, who appeared in glory.
.... But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep ;.
and, when they were awake, they saw His glory."* Such is the King-
dom of God ; Christ the centre of it. His glory the light of it, the Just
made perfect His companions, and the Apostles His witnesses to their
brethren. It realizes what the ancient Saints saw by glimpses, — Jacob
at Bethel, Moses in answer to his petition.

Such then being the especial glory and " dreadfulness" which attaches
to the Christian Church, it may be asked, how far the gift is also im-
parted to every individual member of it ? It is imparted to every mem-
ber on his Baptism ; as may plainly be inferred from our Lord's words,
who in His discourse with Nicodemus, makes a birth through the Spirit,
which He also declares is wrought by Baptism, to be the only means of
entering into His kingdom ; so that, unless a man is thus " born of
water and of the Spirit," he is in no sense a member of His kingdom
at all. By this new birth the Divine Shechinah is set up within him,
pervading soul and body, separating him really, not only in name, from
those who are not Christians, raising him in the scale of being, drawing
and fostering into life whatever remains in him of a higher nature, and
imparting to him, in due season and measure, its own surpassing and
heavenly virtue. Thus, while'he carefully cherishes the Gift, he is, in
the words of the text, " changed from glory to glory, even as by the
Spirit of the Lord." On the other hand, if the Gift be resisted, it grad-
ually withdraws its presence, and being thwarted in its chief end, the

» Matt. xvii. 1, &c. Luke ii. 27, &c. Cf. John i. 14. 2 Pet. i. 17.


sanctification of our nature, is forfeited as regards its other benefits also.
Such seems to be the rule on which the Almighty Giver acts ; and,
could we see the souls of men, doubtless we should see them after this
manner : infants just baptized bright as the Cherubim, as flames of fire
rising heavenward in sacrifice to God ; then as they pass from child-
hood to man's estate, the light within them fading or strengthening as the
case may be ; while of grown men the multitude, alas ; might show but
fearful tokens that the Lord had once been among them, only here and
there some scattered witnesses for Christ remaining, and they, too,
seamed all over with the scars of sin.

To conclude. It were well if the views I have been setting before
you, which in the main are, I trust, those of the Church Catholic from
the beginning, were more understood and received among us. They
would, under God's blessing, put a stop to much of the enthusiasm
which prevails on all sides, while they might tend to dispel those cold
and ordinary notions of religion which are the opposite extreme. Till
we understand that the gifts of grace are unseen, supernatural, and
mysterious, we have but a choice between explaining away the high
and glowing expressions of Scripture, or giving them that rash, irreve-
rent, and self-exalting interpretation, which is one of the chief errors
of this time. Men of awakened and sensitive minds, knowing from
Scripture that the gift of the Holy Ghost is something great and un-
earthly, dissatisfied with the meagre conceptions of the many, yet not
knowing where to look for what they need, are led to place the life of a
Christian, which " is hid with Christ in God," in a sort of religious
ecstacy, in a high wrought sensibility on sacred subjects, in impassioned
thoughts, a soft and languid tone of feeling, and an unnatural profession
of all this in conversation. And further, from the same cause, their
ignorance of the supernatural character of the Heavenly Gift, they at-
tempt to measure it in each other by its sensible effects, and account
none to be Christians but those whom they suppose they can ascertain
to be such, by their profession, language and carriage. On the other
hand, sensible and sober-minded men, offended at such excesses, acqui-
esce in the notion, that the gift of the Holy Ghost was almost peculiar
to the Apostles' day, that now, at least, it does nothing more than make
lis decent and orderly members of society ; the privileges bestowed up-
on us in Scripture being, as they conceive, but of an external nature,
education and the like, or, at the most, a pardon of our sins and admis-
sion to God's favour, unaccompanied by any actual and inherent powers
bestowed upon us. Such are the consequences which naturally follow,
when from one cause or other, any of those doctrines are obscured,
which have been revealed in mercy to our necessities. The mind


catches at the words of life, and tries to apprehend them ; and beino-
debarred their true meaning, takes up with this or that form of error, as
the case may be, in the semblance of truth, by way of compensation.
For ourselves, in proportion as we realize that higher view of the sub-
ject, which we may humbly trust is the true one, let us be careful to
act up to it. Let us adore the Sacred Presence within us with all fear,
and " rejoice with trembling." Let us offer up our best gifts in sacri-
fice to Him who, instead of abhorring, has taken up His abode in these
sinful hearts of ours. Prayer, praise, and thanksgiving, " good works
and alms-deeds," a bold and true confession, and a self-denying walk»
are the ritual of worship by which we serve Him in His temple. How
the distinct and particular works of faith avail to our final acceptance,
we know not ; neither do we know how they are efficacious in chang-
ing our wills and characters, which, through God's grace, they certain-
ly do. All we know is, that as we persevere in them, the inward light
grows brighter and brighter, and God manifests Himself in us in a way the
world knows not of. In this then consists our whole duty, first to con-
template Almighty God, as in heaven, so in our hearts and souls; and
next, while we contemplate Him, to act towards and for Him in the
works of every day ; to view by faith His glory without and within us,
and to acknowledge it by our obedience. Thus we shall unite in one,
conceptions the most lofty concerning His majesty and bounty towards
us, with the most lowly, minute, and unostentatious service to Him.

Lastly, the doctrine on which I have been dwelling, cannot fail to
produce in us deeper and more reverent feelings towards tlie Church
of Christ, as His especial dwelling-place. It is evident, we are in a
much more extraordinary state than we are at all aware of. The mul-
titude do not understand this. So it was in Israel once. There was a
time when, even at Bethel, where God had already vouchsafed a warn-
ing against such ignorance, the very children of the city " mocked" His
prophet, little thinking he had with him the mantle of Elijah. In an
after age, the prophet Ezekiel was bid prophesy to the people, "whether
they would hear or whether they would forbear ;" and, it was added,
" and they, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear, yet shall
know that there hath been a prophet among them."*

Let us not fear, therefore, to be, in our behef, but a few among many.
Let us not fear opposition, suspicion, reproach, or ridicule. God sees
us, and His Angels ; they are looking on. They know we are right,
and bear witness to us : and, " yet a little while, and He that cometh
shall come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith."-i[

• 3 Kingi fl. 33 Ezek. ii. 5—7. t Heb. x. 37, 38.



1 Corinthians xii. 13.
By one Spirit arc we all baptized into one Body.

As there is One Holy Ghost, so there is one only visible Body of Chris-
tians which Almighty God " knows by name," and one Baptism which
admits men into it. This is implied in the text, which is nearly parallel
to St. Paul's words to the Ephesians : " there is one Body, and one
Spirit, one Baptism." But more than this is taught us in it ; not only
that the Holy Ghost is in the Church, and that Baptism admits into it,
but that the Holy Ghost admits by means of Baptism, that the Holy
Ghost baptizes ; in other words, thct each individual member receives
the gift of the Holy Ghost as a preliminary step, a condition, or means
of his being incorporated into the Church, — or, in our Saviour's words,
that no one can enter, except he be regenerated in order to it.

Now, this is much more than many men are willing to grant, their
utmost concession being that the Church has the presence of the Holy
Spirit in it, and therefore, to be in the Church is to be in that which has
the presence of the Holy Spirit, — that is, to be in the way of the Spirit,
(so to speak,) which cannot but be a state of favour and privilege ; but
that the Holy Spirit is given to infants, one by one, on their Baptism,
this they will not admit. Yet, one would think words could not be
plainer than the text in proof of it ; however, they do not admit it.

This defective view of the Sacrament of Baptism, for so I must not
shrink from calling it, shall now be considered, and considered in its
connection with a popular argument for the Baptism of infants, which,
most true as it is in its proper place, yet is scarcely profitable for these
times, as seeming to countenance the error in question. I mean, the
assumed parallel between Baptism and Circumcision.


It is undeniable that Circumcision in some important respects resem-
bles Baptism, and may allowably, nay, usefully be referred to in illus-
tration of it. Circumcision was the entrance into the Jewish Cove-
nant, and it typified the renunciation of the flesh. In respects such as
these it resembles Baptism ; and, hence, it has been of service in the
argument for Infant Baptism, as having been itself administered to
infants. But, though it resembles Baptism in some respects, it is un-
like it in others more important. When, then it is found to be the
chief and especially approved argument in favour of Infant Baptism
among Christians, there is reason for some anxiety, lest this circum-
stance evince, or introduce insufficient views on the subject of a Chris-
tian Sacrament. This remark, I fear, is applicable in the present day.
We baptize infants, in the first place, because the Church has ever
^one so ; and, to say nothing of the duty of observing and transmitting
what we have received, in the case of so great a privilege as Baptism,
we should be ungrateful and insensible indeed, if we did not give our
children the benefit of the usage, even though Scripture said not a word
on the subject, so that it said nothing the other way. But, besides, we
consider we do find, in our Saviour's words, a command to bring chil-
dren to Him, for His blessing. Again, He said they were to be mem-
bers of His Kingdom ; also, that Baptism is the only entrance, the new
birth into it. We administer then Baptism to children as a sure bene-
Jit to their souls.

But, when men refuse to admit the doctrine of Baptismal Regenera-
tion, in the case of infants, then they look about how they may defend
Infant Baptism, which, perhaps, from habit, good feeling, or other
causes, they do not like to abandon. The ordinary and intelligible
reason for the Baptism of infants, is the securing to them remission of
sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, — Regeneration ; but if this sacred
privilege is not given to them in Baptism, why, it may be asked, should
Baptism be administered to them at all? Why not wait till they can
understand the meaning of the rite, and can have faith and repentance
themselves ? Certainly it does seem a very intricate and unreasonable
proceeding; first, to lay stress on the necessity of repentance and faith
in persons to be baptized, and then to proceed to administer Baptism
universally in such a way as to exclude the possibilitj^ of their having
repentance and faith. I say, this would be strange and inconsistent,
were not Baptism, in itself, so direct a blessing that, when parents
demand it for their children, all abstract rules must, in very charity,
necessarily give way. We administer it whenever we do not discover
some actual obstacle in the recipient to hinder its efficacy, as we give
medicine to the sick. Otherwise the objection holds ; and, accordingly,


clear-sighted men, who deny its regenerating power in the case of in-
fants, often do come to the conclusion, that to administer it to them is
a needless and officious act, nay, a profanation of a sacred institution.
It seems to them a mockery to baptize them ; the waste of an edifying
rite, not to say a Sacrament, upon those who cannot understand or use
it ; and, to speak the truth, they do appear reasonable and straightfor-
ward in their inference, granting their premises. It does seem as if
those, who deny the regeneration of infants, ought, if they were con-
sistent, (which happily they are not,) to refrain from baptizing them.
Surely, if we go by Scripture, the question is decided at once ; for no
one can deny that there is much more said in Scripture in behalf of the
connection between Baptism and Divine grace, than about the duty of
Infant Baptism. The passage can scarcely be named, in the New
Testament, where Baptism is referred to, without the mention, direct
or indirect, of spiritual influences. What right have we to put asun-
der what God has united ? especially since, on the other hand, the text
cannot be found which plainly enjoins the Baptism of infants. If the
doctrine and the practice are irreconcilable, — Baptismal Regeneration
and Infant Baptism, — let the practice, which is not written in Scrip-
ture, , yield to the doctrine which is ; and let us (if we can bear to do
so) defraud infants of Baptism, not Baptism of its supernatural virtue.
Let us go counter to Tradition rather than to Scripture. This being
the difficulty which comes upon those who deny the Regeneration, yet
would retain the Baptism, of infants, let us next see how they meet it.
We need not suppose that all I am drawing out passes through the
mind of every one who denies that infants are regenerated in Baptism ;
but, surely, some such processes of thought are implied, which it may
be useful to ourselves to trace out. This being understood, I observe
that the partly assumed and partly real parallel of Circumcision comes,
in fact, whether they know it or not, as a sort of refuge to those who
have taken up this intermediate position between Catholic doctrine
and heretical practice. They avail themselves of the instance of Cir-
cumcision as a proof that a divinely-appointed ordinance need not con-
vey grace, even while it admits into a state of grace ; and they argue
from the analogy between Circumcision and Baptism, that what was
the case with the Mosaic ordinance is the case with the Christian also.
Circumcision admitted to certain privileges, to the means of grace, to
teaching, and the like ; Baptism, they consider, does the same and no
more. It has also the same uses as Circumcision, in teaching the
necessity of inward sanctification, and implying the original corrupt
condition of our nature. In like manner, it ought to be administered
to infants, since Circumcision was so administered under the Law.


I do not deny that this view is consistent with itself, and plausible.
And it would be perfectly satisfactory, as a view, were it Scriptural.
But the plain objection to it is, that Christ and His Apostles do attach
a grace to the ordinance of Baptism, such as is not attached in the Old
Testament to Circumcision, — which is exactly that difference which
makes the latter a mere rite, the former a Sacrament ; and if this be
so, it is nothing to the purpose to build up an argument on the assump-
tion that the two ordinances are precisely the same.

Surely we have forgotten, in good measure, the difference between
Jewish ordinances and Christian. It was said of old time, after St.
Paul, " The Law has a shadow, the Gospel an image. Heaven the
reality ;" or, in other words, that of those heavenly blessings which the
Jewish Dispensation prefigured, the Christian imparts a portion or earn-
est. This, then, is the distinction between our ritual and the Mosaic.
The Jewish rites had no substance of blessing in them ; they were but
outward signs and types of spiritual privileges. They had in them no
*' grace and truth." When the Divine Antitype came, they were sim-
ply and merely in the way ; they did but hide from the eye of faith the
reality which they had been useful in introducing. They were as the
forerunners in a procession, who, after announcing their Prince's com-

Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanParochial sermons (Volume 1) → online text (page 67 of 76)