John_Henry_Newman_by_Sir_John_Everett_MillaisContinued from here…

Afterwards, in the same Epistle [Galatians], he tells us first that nothing avails but faith working by love; but soon after, he calls this same availing principle a new creature: so that the new birth and a living faith are inseparable.

Never, indeed, must it be supposed, as we are indolently apt to suppose, that the gift of grace which we receive at baptism is a mere outward privilege, a mere outward pardon, in which the heart is not concerned;

or as if it were some mere mark put on the soul, distinguishing it indeed from souls unregenerate, as if by a colour or seal, but not connected with the thoughts, mind, and heart of a Christian.

This would be a gross and false view of the nature of God’s mercy given us in Christ. For the new birth of the Holy Spirit sets the soul in motion in a heavenly way: it gives us good thoughts and desires, enlightens and purifies us, and prompts us to seek God.

In a word (as I have said), it gives a spiritual life; it opens the eyes of our mind, so that we begin to see God in all things by faith, and hold continual intercourse with Him by prayer;

and if we cherish these gracious influences, we shall become holier and wiser and more heavenly, year by year, our hearts being ever in a course of change from darkness to light, from the ways and works of Satan to the perfection of Divine obedience.

These considerations may serve to impress upon our minds the meaning of the precept in the text, and others like it which are found in St. Paul’s Epistles. For instance, he enjoins the Ephesians to “pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.”

To the Philippians he says, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication let your requests be made known unto God” (Eph. 6:18; Phil. 4:6). To the Colossians, “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.” To the Romans, “Continue instant in prayer” (Col. 4:2; Rom. 12:12).

Thus the true Christian pierces through the veil of this world and sees the next. He holds intercourse with it; he addresses God, as a child might address his parent, with as clear a view of Him, and with as unmixed a confidence in Him;

with deep reverence indeed, and godly fear and awe, but still with certainty and exactness: as St. Paul says, “I know whom I have believed” (2 Tim. 1:12). with the prospect of judgment to come to sober him, and the assurance of present grace to cheer him.

John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890): Parochial and Plain Sermons vol. 7, 15: Mental Prayer.

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