John Henry Newman: The Comforter Comes to Us as Christ Came, by a Real and Personal Visitation Wednesday, May 15 2013 

John_Henry_Newman_by_Sir_John_Everett_MillaisThe gifts of the Holy Ghost…under the Jewish covenant…were great mercies; yet, great as they were, they are as nothing compared with that surpassing grace with which we Christians are honoured; that great privilege of receiving into our hearts, not the mere gifts of the Spirit, but His very presence, Himself, by a real not a figurative indwelling.

When our Lord entered upon His Ministry, He acted as though He were a mere man, needing grace, and received the consecration of the Holy Spirit for our sakes. He became the Christ, or Anointed, that the Spirit might be seen to come from God, and to pass from Him to us.

And, therefore, the heavenly Gift is not simply called the Holy Ghost, or the Spirit of God, but the Spirit of Christ, that we might clearly understand, that He comes to us from and instead of Christ.

Thus St. Paul says, “God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts;” and our Lord breathed on His Apostles, saying, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost;” and He says elsewhere to them, “If I depart, I will send Him unto you.”

[…] The Comforter who has come instead of Christ, must have vouchsafed to come in the same sense in which Christ came; I mean, that He has come, not merely in the way of gifts, or of influences, or of operations, as He came to the Prophets…; but He comes to us as Christ came, by a real and personal visitation.

[…] We are able to see that the Saviour, when once He entered into this world, never so departed as to suffer things to be as before He came; for He still is with us, not in mere gifts, but by the substitution of His Spirit for Himself, and that, both in the Church and in the souls of individual Christians.

For instance, St. Paul says in the text, “Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.” Again, “He shall quicken even your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

“Know ye not that your body is the Temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?” “Ye are the Temple of the Living God, as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them.”

The same Apostle clearly distinguishes between the indwelling of the Spirit, and His actual operations within us, when he says, “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us;” and again, “The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.

John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890): Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 2, Sermon 19, The Indwelling Spirit.

John Henry Newman: Let Us Begin with His Cross and the Humiliation to which It Leads Wednesday, Mar 27 2013 

John_Henry_Newman_by_Sir_John_Everett_Millais[Following on from here…]

All that is bright and beautiful, even on the surface of this world, though it has no substance, and may not suitably be enjoyed for its own sake, yet is a figure and promise of that true joy which issues out of the Atonement.

It is a promise beforehand of what is to be: it is a shadow, raising hope because the substance is to follow, but not to be rashly taken instead of the substance.

And it is God’s usual mode of dealing with us, in mercy to send the shadow before the substance, that we may take comfort in what is to be, before it comes.

Thus our Lord before His Passion rode into Jerusalem in triumph, with the multitudes crying Hosanna, and strewing His road with palm branches and their garments.

This was but a vain and hollow pageant, nor did our Lord take pleasure in it. It was a shadow which stayed not, but flitted away.

It could not be more than a shadow, for the Passion had not been undergone by which His true triumph was wrought out.

He could not enter into His glory before He had first suffered. He could not take pleasure in this semblance of it, knowing that it was unreal.

Yet that first shadowy triumph was the omen and presage of the true victory to come, when He had overcome the sharpness of death.

And we commemorate this figurative triumph on the last Sunday in Lent, to cheer us in the sorrow of the week that follows, and to remind us of the true joy which comes with Easter-Day.

And so, too, as regards this world, with all its enjoyments, yet disappointments.

Let us not trust it; let us not give our hearts to it; let us not begin with it.

Let us begin with faith; let us begin with Christ; let us begin with His Cross and the humiliation to which it leads.

Let us first be drawn to Him who is lifted up, that so He may, with Himself, freely give us all things. Let us “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” and then all those things of this world “will be added to us.”

They alone are able truly to enjoy this world, who begin with the world unseen. They alone enjoy it, who have first abstained from it.

They alone can truly feast, who have first fasted; they alone are able to use the world, who have learned not to abuse it; they alone inherit it, who take it as a shadow of the world to come, and who for that world to come relinquish it.

John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890): Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 6, Sermon 7. The Cross of Christ the Measure of the World.

John Henry Newman: Christ Came to Make a New World and Recapitulate All Things in Himself Friday, Jan 11 2013 

John_Henry_Newman_by_Sir_John_Everett_MillaisChrist exercised His prophetical office in teaching, and in foretelling the future—in His sermon on the Mount, in His parables, in His prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem.

He performed the priest’s service when He died on the Cross, as a sacrifice; and when He consecrated the bread and the cup to be a feast upon that sacrifice; and now that He intercedes for us at the right hand of God.

And He showed Himself as a conqueror, and a king, in rising from the dead, in ascending into heaven, in sending down the Spirit of grace, in converting the nations, and in forming His Church to receive and to rule them.

[…] He said, with reference to His baptism in Jordan, “…it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15). Every holy rite of the law did He go through for our sakes.

And so too did He live through all states of man’s life up to a perfect man, infancy, childhood, boyhood, youth, maturity, that He might be a pattern of them all.

And so too did He take man’s perfect nature on Him, body, and soul, and reason, that He might sanctify it wholly.

And therefore in like manner did He unite in Himself, and renew, and give us back in Him, the principal lots or states in which we find ourselves—suffering, that we might know how to suffer; labouring, that we might know how to labour; and teaching, that we might know how to teach..

[…] Christ came to make a new world. He came into the world to regenerate it in Himself, to make a new beginning, to be the beginning of the creation of God, to gather together in one, and recapitulate all things in Himself.

The rays of His glory were scattered through the world; one state of life had some of them, another others.

The world was like some fair mirror, broken in pieces, and giving back no one uniform image of its Maker.

But He came to combine what was dissipated, to recast what was shattered in Himself. He began all excellence, and of His fulness have all we received.

[…] Angels heralded a Saviour, a Christ, a Lord; but withal, He was “born in Bethlehem,” and was “lying in a manger.”

Eastern sages brought Him gold, for that He was a King, frankincense as to a God; but on the other hand myrrh also, in token of a coming death and burial.

At the last, He “bore witness to the truth” before Pilate as a Prophet, suffered on the cross as our Priest, while He was also “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”

John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890): Sermons on Subjects of the Day, 5: The Three Offices of Christ.

John Henry Newman: Praying for the Coming of Christ Friday, Dec 14 2012 

John_Henry_Newman_by_Sir_John_Everett_MillaisI have an instinct within me which leads me to rise and go to my Father, to name the Name of His well-beloved Son, and having named it, to place myself unreservedly in His hands, saying, “If Thou, Lord, wilt be extreme to mark what is done amiss, O Lord, who may abide it! But there is forgiveness with Thee.”

This is the feeling in which we come to confess our sins, and to pray to God for pardon and grace day by day; and observe, it is the very feeling in which we must prepare to meet Him when He comes visibly.

[…] If indeed we have habitually lived to the world, then truly it is natural we should attempt to fly from Him whom we have pierced. Then may we well call on the mountains to fall on us, and on the hills to cover us.

But if we have lived, however imperfectly, yet habitually, in His fear, if we trust that His Spirit is in us, then we need not be ashamed before Him.

We shall then come before Him, as now we come to pray—with profound abasement, with awe, with self-renunciation, still as relying upon the Spirit which He has given us, with our faculties about us, with a collected and determined mind, and with hope.

He who cannot pray for Christ’s coming, ought not in consistency to pray at all.

[…] Lastly, …  in that solemn hour we shall have, if we be His, the inward support of His Spirit too, carrying us on towards Him, and “witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God.”

God is mysteriously threefold; and while He remains in the highest heaven, He comes to judge the world.

And while He judges the world, He is in us also, bearing us up and going forth in us to meet Himself.

God the Son is without, but God the Spirit is within—and when the Son asks, the Spirit will answer.

That Spirit is vouchsafed to us here; and if we yield ourselves to His gracious influences, so that He draws up our thoughts and wills to heavenly things, and becomes one with us, He will assuredly be still in us and give us confidence at the Day of Judgment.

He will be with us, and strengthen us; and how great His strength is, what mind of man can conceive?

Gifted with that supernatural strength, we may be able to lift up our eyes to our Judge when He looks on us, and look on Him in turn, though with deep awe, yet without confusion of face, as if in the consciousness of innocence.

John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890): Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 5, Sermon 4: Shrinking from Christ’s Coming.

John Henry Newman: Eve Gazed and Reflected When She Should have Fled Saturday, Dec 1 2012 

John_Henry_Newman_by_Sir_John_Everett_MillaisThe great thing in religion is to set off well; to resist the beginnings of sin, to flee temptation, to avoid the company of the wicked.

“Enter not into the path of the wicked … avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, pass away.”

And for this reason, first of all, because it is hardly possible to delay our flight without rendering flight impossible.

When I say, resist the beginnings of evil, I do not mean the first act merely, but the rising thought of evil.

Whatever the temptation may be, there may be no time to wait and gaze, without being caught.

[…] Directly we are made aware of the temptation, we shall, if we are wise, turn our backs upon it, without waiting to think and reason about it; we shall engage our mind in other thoughts.

[…] For consider, in the next place, what must in all cases be the consequence of allowing evil thoughts to be present to us, though we do not actually admit them into our hearts.

This: namely—we shall make ourselves familiar with them.

Now our great security against sin lies in being shocked at it. Eve gazed and reflected when she should have fled.

It is sometimes said, “Second thoughts are best.” This is true in many cases; but there are times when it is very false, and when, on the contrary, first thoughts are best.

For sin is like the serpent, which seduced our first parents. We know that some serpents have the power of what is called “fascinating.”

Their eye has the power of subduing—nay, in a strange way, of alluring—their victim, who is reduced to utter helplessness, cannot flee away, nay, rather is obliged to approach, and (as it were) deliver himself up to them; till in their own time they seize and devour him.

What a dreadful figure this is of the power of sin and the devil over our hearts!

At first our conscience tells us, in a plain straightforward way, what is right and what is wrong; but when we trifle with this warning, our reason becomes perverted, and comes in aid of our wishes, and deceives us to our ruin.

Then we begin to find, that there are arguments available in behalf of bad deeds, and we listen to these till we come to think them true; and then, if perchance better thoughts return, and we make some feeble effort to get at the truth really and sincerely, we find our minds by that time so bewildered that we do not know right from wrong.

John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890): Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 8, 5: Curiosity a Temptation to Sin.

John Henry Newman: The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, Gives Us Strength to Resist the World Sunday, Nov 11 2012 

Beware of being severe on those who lead careless lives, or whom you think or know to be ill-treating you. Do not dwell on such matters. Turn your mind away from them.

[…] Anyone who attempts to resist the world, or to do other good things by his own strength, will be sure to fall. We can do good things, but it is when God gives us power to do them.

Therefore we must pray to Him for the power. When we are brought into temptation of any kind, we should lift up our hearts to God. We should say to Him, “Good Lord, deliver us.”

Our Lord, when He was going away, promised to His disciples a Comforter instead of Himself; that was God the Holy Ghost, who is still among us (though we see Him not), as Christ was with the Apostles.

He has come in order to enlighten us, to guide us in the right way, and in the end to bring us to Christ in heaven.

And He came down, as His name “Comforter” shows, especially to stand by, and comfort, and strengthen those who are in any trouble, particularly trouble from irreligious men.

The disciples, when Christ went, had to go through much trouble, and therefore He comforted them by the coming of the Holy and Eternal Spirit, the Third Person in the Blessed Trinity. “These things I have spoken unto you,” He says, “that in Me ye might have peace; in the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

When, then, religious persons are in low spirits, or are any way grieved at the difficulties which the world puts in their way, when they earnestly desire to do their duty, yet feel how weak they are, let them recollect that they are “not their own,” but “bought with a price,” and the dwelling-places and temples of the All-gracious Spirit.

[…] None of us, even the best, have resisted the world as we ought to have done. … Let us search our consciences; let us look back on our past lives.

Let us try to purify and cleanse our hearts in God’s sight. Let us try to live more like Christians, more like children of God.

Let us earnestly beg of God to teach us more simply and clearly what our duty is. Let us beg of Him to give us the heart to love Him, and true repentance for what is past.

Let us beg Him to teach us how to confess Him before men; lest if we deny Him now, He may deny us before the Angels of God hereafter.

John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890): Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 8, 13: Endurance of the World’s Censure.

John Henry Newman: The Spirit of God Makes Christ Present with Us by Making Us Present with Christ Sunday, May 20 2012 

You will say, How can He [the ascended Jesus] be present to the Christian and in the Church, yet not be on earth, but on the right hand of God?

I answer, that the Christian Church is made up of faithful souls, and how can any of us say where the soul is, simply and really?

The soul indeed acts through the body, and perceives through the body; but where is it? Or what has it to do with place?

Or why should it be a thing incredible that the power of the Spirit should so visit the soul as to open upon it a Divine manifestation, which yet it perceives not, because its present perceptions are only through the body?

Who shall limit the power of the gracious Spirit of God? How know we, for instance, but that He makes Christ present with us, by making us present with Christ?

As the earth goes round the sun, yet the sun is said to move, so our souls, in fact, may be taken up to Christ, when He is said to come to us.

But no need to insist on one mode in which the mystery may be conceived, when ten thousand ways are possible with God, of which we know nothing.

Scripture says enough to show us that influences may be exerted upon the soul so marvellous, that we cannot decide whether the soul remains in the body or not, while subjected to them.

St. Paul, speaking of himself, says, “Whether in the body, I cannot tell, or whether out of the body, I cannot tell; God knoweth: … caught up to the third heaven.”

And he repeats his statement: “I knew such a man,” meaning himself, “whether in the body I cannot tell, or out of the body I cannot tell, God knoweth: how that he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”

St. Paul was brought into Paradise, yet his body remained where it was; and whether his soul was separated from it, was a question which he could not decide.

How can we pretend to decide what the Holy Spirit may or may not do towards faithful souls now, and whether He does not manifest Christ to and in them, by bringing them to Christ?

Again; consider Satan’s power in showing our Lord all the kingdoms of the world “in a moment of time;” may not the Almighty Spirit much more do with us, what the evil one did with our Lord?

May He not in less than a moment bring our souls into God’s presence, while our bodies are on earth?

John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890): Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 6,Sermon 10. The Spiritual Presence of Christ in the Church.

John Henry Newman: The Cross of Christ So Wounds As to Heal Also Saturday, Apr 7 2012 

[Following on from here…]

It must not be supposed, because the doctrine of the Cross makes us sad, that therefore the Gospel is a sad religion.

The Psalmist says, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy;” and our Lord says, “They that mourn shall be comforted.”

Let no one go away with the impression that the Gospel makes us take a gloomy view of the world and of life.

It hinders us indeed from taking a superficial view, and finding a vain transitory joy in what we see.

But it forbids our immediate enjoyment, only to grant enjoyment in truth and fulness afterwards.

It only forbids us to begin with enjoyment. It only says, If you begin with pleasure, you will end with pain.

It bids us begin with the Cross of Christ, and in that Cross we shall at first find sorrow, but in a while peace and comfort will rise out of that sorrow.

That Cross will lead us to mourning, repentance, humiliation, prayer, fasting; we shall sorrow for our sins, we shall sorrow with Christ’s sufferings.

But all this sorrow will only issue, nay, will be undergone in a happiness far greater than the enjoyment which the world gives,

—though careless worldly minds indeed will not believe this, ridicule the notion of it, because they never have tasted it, and consider it a mere matter of words, which religious persons think it decent and proper to use, and try to believe themselves, and to get others to believe, but which no one really feels.

This is what they think; but our Saviour said to His disciples, “Ye now therefore have sorrow, but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.”

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you.”

And St. Paul says, “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.”

“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.”

And thus the Cross of Christ, as telling us of our redemption as well as of His sufferings, wounds us indeed, but so wounds as to heal also.

John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890): Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 6, Sermon 7. The Cross of Christ the Measure of the World.

John Henry Newman: The Creator Spirit Changes the Self-Satisfied Pharisee into the Broken-Hearted Publican Monday, Feb 20 2012 

It is the ignorance of our understanding, it is our spiritual blindness, it is our banishment from the presence of Him who is the source and the standard of all Truth, which is the cause of this meagre, heartless religion of which men are commonly so proud.

Had we any proper insight into things as they are, had we any real apprehension of God as He is, of ourselves as we are, we should never dare to serve Him without fear, or to rejoice unto Him without trembling.

And it is the removal of this veil which is spread between our eyes and heaven, it is the pouring in upon the soul of the illuminating grace of the New Covenant, which makes the religion of the Christian so different from that of the various human rites and philosophies, which are spread over the earth.

[…] That awful Creator Spirit, of whom the Epistle of this day speaks so much, He it is who brings into religion the true devotion, the true worship, and changes the self-satisfied Pharisee into the broken-hearted, self-abased Publican.

It is the sight of God, revealed to the eye of faith, that makes us hideous to ourselves, from the contrast which we find ourselves to present to that great God at whom we look.

It is the vision of Him in His infinite gloriousness, the All-holy, the All-beautiful, the All-perfect, which makes us sink into the earth with self-contempt and self-abhorrence.

We are contented with ourselves till we contemplate Him. Why is it, I say, that the moral code of the world is so precise and well-defined? Why is the worship of reason so calm?

Why was the religion of classic heathenism so joyous? Why is the framework of civilized society all so graceful and so correct?

Why, on the other hand, is there so much of emotion, so much of conflicting and alternating feeling, so much that is high, so much that is abased, in the devotion of Christianity?

It is because the Christian, and the Christian alone, has a revelation of God; it is because he has upon his mind, in his heart, on his conscience, the idea of one who is Self-dependent, who is from Everlasting, who is Incommunicable.

He knows that One alone is holy, and that His own creatures are so frail in comparison of Him, that they would dwindle and melt away in His presence, did He not uphold them by His power.

[…] He knows that there is just One Being, in whose hand lies his own happiness, his own sanctity, his own life, and hope, and salvation.

John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890): Sermons Preached on Various Occasions 2: The Religion of the Pharisee, the Religion of Mankind.

John Henry Newman: “Blessed are they that Do His Commandments, that they may have Right to the Tree of Life” Thursday, Oct 20 2011 

(On 2 Kings 22:19-20.)

In conclusion, my brethren, I would have you observe in what Josiah’s chief excellence lay.

This is the character given him when his name is first mentioned; “He did … right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the ways of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.” (2 Kings 22:2).

[…] Now what is this strict virtue called? it is called faith. It is no matter whether we call it faith or conscientiousness, they are in substance one and the same:

where there is faith, there is conscientiousness—where there is conscientiousness, there is faith; they may be distinguished from each other in words, but they are not divided in fact.

They belong to one, and but one, habit of mind—dutifulness; they show themselves in obedience, in the careful, anxious observance of God’s will, however we learn it.

Hence it is that St. Paul tells us that “the just shall live by faith” under every dispensation of God’s mercy.

And this is called faith, because it implies a reliance on the mere word of the unseen God overpowering the temptations of sight.

Whether it be we read and accept His word in Scripture (as Christians do), or His word in our conscience, the law written on the heart (as is the case with heathens); in either ease, it is by following it, in spite of the seductions of the world around us, that we please God.

St. Paul calls it faith; saying after the prophet, “The just shall live by faith”;

and St. Peter, in the tenth chapter of the Acts, calls it “fearing and working righteousness,” where he says, that “in every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted with Him.”

It is all one: both Apostles say that God loves those who prefer Him to the world; whose character and frame of mind is such.

Elsewhere St. Paul also speaks like St. Peter, when he declares that God will render eternal life to them, who by “patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory” (Rom. 2:7).

St. John adds his testimony: “Little children, let no man deceive you. He that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.” (1 John 3:7).

And our Saviour’s last words at the end of the whole Scripture, long after the coming of the Spirit, after the death of all the Apostles but St. John, are the same: “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life” (Rev. 22:14).

John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890): Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 8,  Sermon 7. Josiah, a Pattern for the Ignorant. 

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