John_Henry_Newman_by_Sir_John_Everett_Millais“If we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him” (Romans 6:8).

At first sight, one might be tempted to say, “All who come to church, at least, are in earnest, and have given up sin; they are imperfect indeed, as all Christians are at best, but they do not fall into wilful sin.”

I should be very glad, my Brethren, to believe this were the case, but I cannot indulge so pleasant a hope.

No; I think it quite certain that some persons at least, I do not say how many, to whom I am speaking, have not made up their minds fully to lead a religious life.

They come to church because they think it right, or from other cause. It is very right that they should come; I am glad they do. This is good, as far as it goes; but it is not all.

They are not so far advanced in the kingdom of God, as to resist the devil, or to flee from him. They cannot command themselves. They act rightly one day, and wrongly the next.

They are afraid of being laughed at. They are attracted by bad company. They put off religion to a future day. They think a religious life dull and unpleasant. Yet they have a certain sense of religion; and they come to church in order to satisfy this sense.

Now, I say it is right to come to church; but, O that they could be persuaded of the simple truth of St. Paul’s words, “He is not a Jew which is one outwardly; but he is a Jew which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart in the spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Rom. 2:28, 29);

which may be taken to mean:—He is not a Christian who is one outwardly, who merely comes to church, and professes to desire to be saved by Christ.

It is very right that he should do so, but it is not enough. He is not a Christian who merely has not cast off religion;

but he is the true Christian, who, while he is a Christian outwardly, is one inwardly also; who lives to God; whose secret life is hid with Christ in God;

whose heart is religious; who not only knows and feels that a religious life is true happiness, but loves religion, wishes, tries, prays to be religious, begs God Almighty to give him the will and the power to be religious; and, as time goes on, grows more and more religious, more fit for heaven.

John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890): Parochial and Plain Sermons vol. 7, 13: Love of Religion, a New Nature.

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