Sermon 9. Christ upon the Waters—Part 2

"And they, seeing Him walking upon the sea, were troubled, saying: It is an apparition. And they cried out for fear." Ibid.

{139} YES, my dear Brethren, would I could end at the point to which I have brought you! I ought to be able to end here; it is hard I cannot end here. Surely I have set before you a character of the Church of this day remarkable enough to attach to her the prerogatives of that divinely favoured bark in which Peter rowed, and into which the Eternal Lord entered, on the lake of Genesareth. Her fortunes during eighteen centuries have more than answered to the instance of that miraculous protection which was manifested in the fisher's boat in Galilee. It is hard that I must say more, but not strange; not strange, my Brethren, for both our Saviour's own history and His express word prepare us to expect that what is in itself so miraculous would fail to subdue, nay, would harden, the hearts of those to whom it so forcibly appeals. There is, indeed, no argument so strong but the wilful ingenuity of man is able to evade or retort it; and what happens to us in this day {140} happened to Him also, who is in all things our archetype and forerunner. There was a time when He wrought a miracle to convince the incredulous, but they had their ready explanation to destroy its cogency. "There was offered unto Him," says the Evangelist, "one possessed with a devil, both blind and dumb; and He healed him, so that he both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed, and said, Is this not the son of David? But the Pharisees hearing it, said: This man casteth not out devils but by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils." So said the Pharisees; and He of whom they spoke forewarned His disciples, that both He and His adversaries would have their respective representatives in after times, both in uttering and bearing a like blasphemy. "The disciple is not above his master," He said, "nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he is as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the good-man of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of His household!"

So it was, my Brethren, that our Saviour was not allowed to point to His miracles as His warrant, but was thought the worse of for them; and it cannot startle us that we too have to suffer the like in our day. The Sinless was called Beelzebub, much more His sinful servants. And what happened to Him then, is our protection as well as our warning now: for that must be a poor argument, which is available, not only against us, but against Him. For this reason, I am not called upon to enter upon any formal refutation of this charge against us; yet it will not be without profit to trace its operation, and that I shall now proceed to do. {141} 

Topic - Antichrist The world, then, witnesses, scrutinizes, and confesses the marvellousness of the Church's power. It does not deny that she is special, awful, nay, supernatural in her history; that she does what unaided man cannot do. It discerns and recognizes her abidingness, her unchangeableness, her imperturbability, her ever youthful vigour, the elasticity of her movements, the consistency and harmony of her teaching, the persuasiveness of her claims. It confesses, I say, that she is a supernatural phenomenon; but it makes short work with such a confession, viewed as an argument for submitting to her, for it ascribes the miracle which it beholds, to Satan, not to God.

This being taken for granted, as an initial assumption from which the whole course of investigation is to proceed, and to which every result is to be referred,—viz., that the Church is not the spouse of Christ, but the child of the evil one, the sorceress described by St. John; and her supreme head, not the vicar of Christ, and pastor and doctor of His people, but the man of sin, and the destined deceiver and son of perdition,—I say, this being assumed without proof on starting, it is plain that the very evidences, which really demonstrate our divine origin, are plausibly retorted on us, as they were retorted on our Lord and Saviour, as tokens of our reprobation. Antichrist, when he comes, will be an imitative or counterfeit Christ; therefore he will look like Christ to the many, otherwise he would not be a counterfeit; but if Antichrist looks like Christ, Christ, of course, must look like Antichrist. The idolatrous sorceress, if she is to have any success in her enchantments, must feign a {142} gravity, an authority, a sanctity, and a nobleness, which really belong to the Church of Christ alone; no wonder, then, since Satan is to be able to persuade men that she is like the Church, he is also able to persuade them that the Church is like her. Christ Himself twice was not recognized even by His disciples in the boat, who loved Him: St. Peter did not know Him after the resurrection, till St. John detected Him; and when, before this, He came walking on the sea, they at first were afraid of Him, as though He had been some evil or malignant being: "they were troubled, saying: It is an apparition, and they cried out for fear." No wonder the enemy of souls should have abundant opportunity and means of seducing the thoughtless and the headstrong, when the very Apostles, in the first years of their discipleship, were so dull in spiritual apprehension.

1. I say, the more numerous and striking are the evidences of the divinity of the Church, so much the more conclusively are they retorted against her, when men assume at starting that she comes, not from above, but from below. Does she claim to be sent from God? but Antichrist will claim it too. Do men bow before her, "and lick up the dust from her feet"? but on the other hand, it is said of the apocalyptic sorceress also, that the kings of the earth shall be made "drunk with her wine." Does the Church receive the homage of "the islands, and the ships of the sea"? The answer is ready; for it is expressly said in Scripture that the evil woman shall make "the merchants of the earth rich by the abundance of her delicacies." Is the Church honoured with "the gold and frankincense of Saba, the multitude of camels, {143} the dromedaries of Madian, and the flocks of Cedar"? Her impious rival, too, will be clothed "in purple and scarlet, and gilded with gold," and enriched with "beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots." Does the Church exercise a power over the soul? The enchantress, too, will be possessed, not only of the goods of this world, but of "the souls of men." Was it promised to the sons of the Church to do miracles? Antichrist is to do "lying wonders." Do they exhibit a meekness and a firmness most admirable, a marvellous self-denial, a fervency in prayer, and a charity? It is answered: "This only makes them more dangerous. Do you not know that Satan can transform himself into an angel of light?" Are they, according to our Lord's bidding, like sheep, defenceless and patient? This does but fulfil a remarkable prophecy, it is retorted; for the second beast, which came up out of the earth, "had two horns like a lamb's, while it spoke like a dragon." Does the Church fulfil the Scripture description of being weak and yet strong, of conquering by yielding, of having nothing yet gaining all things, and of exercising power without wealth or station? This wonderful fact, which ought surely to startle the most obstinate, is assigned, not to the power of God, but to some political art or conspiracy. Angels walk the earth in vain; to the gross prejudice of the multitude their coming and going is the secret plotting, as they call it, of "monks and Jesuits." Good forsooth it cannot, shall not be; rather believe anything than that it comes from God; believe in a host of invisible traitors prowling about and disseminating doctrine adverse to your own, believe us to be liars and deceivers, {144} men of blood, ministers of hell, rather than turn your minds, by way of solving the problem, to the possibility of our being what we say we are, the children and servants of the true Church. There never was a more successful artifice than this, which the author of evil has devised against his Maker, that God's work is not God's but his own. He has spread this abroad in the world, as thieves in a crowd escape by giving the alarm; and men, in their simplicity, run away from Christ as if Christ were he, and run into his arms as if he were Christ.

2. And if Satan can so well avail himself even of the gifts and glories of the Church, it is not wonderful that he can be skilful also in his exhibition and use of those offences and scandals which are his own work in her now or in former times. My Brethren, she has scandals, she has a reproach, she has a shame: no Catholic will deny it. She has ever had the reproach and shame of being the mother of children unworthy of her. She has good children;—she has many more bad. Such is the will of God, as declared from the beginning. He might have formed a pure Church; but He has expressly predicted that the cockle, sown by the enemy, shall remain with the wheat, even to the harvest at the end of the world. He pronounced that His Church should be like a fisher's net, gathering of every kind, and not examined till the evening. Nay, more than this, He declared that the bad and imperfect should far surpass the good. "Many are called," He said, "but few are chosen"; and His Apostle speaks of "a remnant saved according to the election of grace." There is ever, then, an abundance of materials in the lives and the histories of Catholics; {145} ready to the use of those opponents who, starting with the notion that the Holy Church is the work of the devil, wish to have some corroboration of their leading idea. Her very prerogative gives special opportunity for it; I mean, that she is the Church of all lands and of all times. If there was a Judas among the Apostles, and a Nicholas among the deacons, why should we be surprised that in the course of eighteen hundred years, there should be flagrant instances of cruelty, of unfaithfulness, of hypocrisy, or of profligacy, and that not only in the Catholic people, but in high places, in royal palaces, in bishops' households, nay, in the seat of St. Peter itself? Why need it surprise, if in barbarous ages, or in ages of luxury, there have been bishops, or abbots, or priests who have forgotten themselves and their God, and served the world or the flesh, and have perished in that evil service? What triumph is it, though in a long line of between two and three hundred popes, amid martyrs, confessors, doctors, sage rulers, and loving fathers of their people, one, or two, or three are found who fulfil the Lord's description of the wicked servant, who began "to strike the manservants and maidservants, and to eat and drink and be drunk"? What will come of it, though we grant that at this time or that, here or there, mistakes in policy, or ill-advised measures, or timidity, or vacillation in action, or secular maxims, or inhumanity, or narrowness of mind have seemed to influence the Church's action, or her bearing towards her children? I can only say that, taking man as he is, it would be a miracle were such offences altogether absent from her history. Consider what it is to be left to oneself and one's conscience, without others' {146} judgment on what we do, which at times is the case with all men; consider what it is to have easy opportunities of sinning; and then cast the first stone at churchmen who have abused their freedom from control, or independence of criticism. My Brethren, with such considerations before me, I do not wonder that these scandals take place; which, of course, are the greater in proportion as the field on which they are found is larger and wider, and the more shocking in proportion as the profession of sanctity, under which they exhibit themselves, is more prominent. What religious body can compare with us in duration or in extent? There are crimes enough to be found in the members of all denominations: if there are passages in our history, the like of which do not occur in the annals of Wesleyanism or of Independency, or the other religions of the day, recollect there have been no Anabaptist pontiffs, no Methodist kings, no Congregational monasteries, no Quaker populations. Let the tenets of Irving or Swedenborg spread, as they never can, through the world, and we should see if, amid the wealth, and power, and station which would accrue to their holders, they would bear their faculties more meekly than Catholics have done.

Come, my Brethren, I will use a very homely illustration; suffer it, if it be but apposite. You know what a sensation railway accidents occasion. Why? because so enormous are the physical and mechanical forces which are put in motion in that mode of travelling, that, if an accident occurs, it must be gigantic. It is horrible from the conditions under which it takes place. In consequence, it impresses the imagination beyond {147} what the reason can warrant; so that you may fall in with persons, who, on hearing, and much more, on undergoing such a misfortune, are not slow to protest that they never will travel by a railroad again. But sober men submit the matter to a more exact investigation. They do not suffer their minds to be fastened down or carried away by the thought of one or two casualties which shock them. They consider the number of lines, the frequency of trains, the multitude of passengers; they have recourse to the returns, and they calculate the average of accidents, and determine the percentage. And then they contrast with the results thus obtained the corresponding results which coach travelling supplies, and they end, perhaps, by coming to the conclusion that, in matter of fact, the rail is safer than the road; and yet still, in spite of these undeniable facts, there are timid persons, whose imagination is more active than their reason, and who are so arrested by the exceptions, few as they are, that they cannot get themselves to contemplate the rule. In consequence they protest as steadily as before, that steam travelling is perilous and suicidal, and that they never will travel except by coach. Oh, my Brethren, there are many such alarmists in religion; they dress out in tract or pamphlet, they cut out and frame, some special story of tyranny, or fraud, or immorality in the long history of world-wide Catholicism, and that to them is simply Catholicism—that to them is nothing short of a picture, a definition of Catholicism. They shrink from the great road of travel which God has appointed, and they run, as I may say, their own private conveyance, be it Wesleyanism, {148} or Anglicanism, or Dissent, on their own track, as safer, surer, pleasanter, than the Catholic way of passage, because that passage is not secure from danger and mishap. And if this frame of mind is possible in a matter of this life, into which prejudice, and especially religious prejudice, does not enter, much more commonly and fatally will it obtain, when men are not looking for reasons to ascertain a point, but for arguments to defend it.

3. You see, my Brethren, from what I have been saying, how it is that on the one hand, the visible prerogatives of Catholicism do but make men suspicious of it, while on the other its scandals are sure to fill them with dread and horror. But now let me pursue the matter further; let me attempt to trace out more fully how the English mind, in these last centuries, has come to think there is nothing good in that Religion, which it once thought the very teaching of the Most High. Consider, then, this: most men, by nature, dislike labour and trouble; if they labour, as they are obliged to do, they do so because they are obliged. They exert themselves under a stimulus or excitement, and just as long as it lasts. Thus they labour for their daily bread, for their families, or for some temporal object which they desire; but they do not take on them the trouble of doing so without some such motive cause. Hence, in religious matters, having no urgent appetite after truth, or desire to please God, or fear of the consequences of displeasing Him, or detestation of sin, they take what comes, they form their notions at random, they are moulded passively from without, and this is what is commonly meant by "private judgment." "Private judgment" commonly {149} means passive impression. Most men in this country like opinions to be brought to them, rather than to be at the pains to go out and seek for them. They like to be waited on, they like to be consulted, for they like to be their own centre. As great men have their slaves or their body-servants for every need of the day, so, in an age like this, when every one reads and has a voice in public matters, it is indispensable that they should have persons to provide them with their ideas, the clothing of their mind, and that of the best fashion. Hence the extreme influence of periodical publications at this day, quarterly, monthly, or daily; these teach the multitude of men what to think and what to say. And thus is it that, in this age, every one is, intellectually, a sort of absolute king, though his realm is confined to himself or to his family; for at least he can think and say, though he cannot do, what he will, and that with no trouble at all, because he has plenty of intellectual servants to wait on him. Is it to be supposed that a man is to take the trouble of finding out truth himself, when he can pay for it? So his only object is to have cheap knowledge; that he may have his views of revelation, and dogma, and policy, and conduct,—in short, of right and wrong,—ready to hand, as he has his table-cloth laid for his breakfast, and the materials provided for the meal. Thus it is, then, that the English mind grows up into its existing character. There are nations naturally so formed for speculation, that individuals, almost as they eat and drink and work, will originate doctrines and follow out ideas; they, too, of course have their own difficulties in submitting to the Church, but such is not the Englishman. He is in his own way the creature of {150} circumstances; he is bent on action, but as to opinion he takes what comes, only he bargains not to be teased or troubled about it. He gets his opinions anyhow, some from the nursery, some at school, some from the world, and has a zeal for them, because they are his own. Other men, at least, exercise a judgment upon them, and prove them by a rule. He does not care to do so, but he takes them as he finds them, whether they fit together or not, and makes light of the incongruity, and thinks it a proof of common sense, good sense, strong shrewd sense, to do so. All he cares for is, that he should not be put to rights; of that he is jealous enough. He is satisfied to walk about, dressed just as he is. As opinions come, so they must stay with him: and, as he does not like trouble in his acquisition of them, so he resents criticism in his use.

When, then, the awful form of Catholicism, of which he has already heard so much good and so much evil—so much evil which revolts him, so much good which amazes and troubles him—when this great vision, which hitherto he has known from books and from rumour, but not by sight and hearing, presents itself before him, it finds in him a very different being from the simple Anglo-Saxon to whom it originally came. It finds in him a being, not of rude nature, but of formed habits, averse to change and resentful of interference; a being who looks hard at it, and repudiates and loathes it, first of all, because, if listened to, it would give him much trouble. He wishes to be let alone; but here is a teaching which purports to be revealed, which would mould his mind on new ideas, which he has to learn, and which, if he cannot learn thoroughly, he must borrow {151} from strangers. The very notion of a theology or a ritual frightens and oppresses him; it is a yoke, because it makes religion difficult, not easy. There is enough of labour in learning matters of this life, without concerning oneself with the revelations of another. He does not choose to believe that the Almighty has told us so many things, and he readily listens to any person or argument maintaining the negative. And, moreover, he resents the idea of interference itself; "an Englishman's house is his castle;" a maxim most salutary in politics, most dangerous in moral conduct. He cannot bear the thought of not having a will of his own, or an opinion of his own, on any given subject of inquiry, whatever it be. It is intolerable, as he considers, not to be able, on the most awful and difficult of subjects, to think for oneself; it is an insult to be told that God has spoken and superseded investigation.

4. And, further still, consider this: strange as it may be to those who do not know him, he really believes in that accidental collection of tenets, of which I have been speaking; habit has made it all natural to him, and he takes it for granted; he thinks his own view of things as clear as day, and every other view irrational and ludicrous. In good faith and in sincerity of heart, he thinks the Englishman knows more about God's dealings with men, than any one else; and he measures all things in heaven and earth by the floating opinions which have been drifted into his mind. And especially is he satisfied and sure of his principles; he conceives them to be the dictates of the simplest and most absolute sense, and it does not occur to him for a moment, that objective {152} truth claims to be sought, and a revealed doctrine requires to be ascertained. He himself is the ultimate sanction and appellate authority of all that he holds. Putting aside, then, the indignation which, under these circumstances, he naturally feels in being invited to go to school again, his present opinions are an effectual bar to his ever recognizing the divine mission of Catholicism; for he criticizes Catholicism simply by those opinions themselves which are antagonists of it, and takes his notes of truth and error from a source which is already committed against it. And thus you see that frequent occurrence, of really worthy persons unable to reconcile their minds, do what they will, to the teaching and the ways of the Catholic Church. The more they see of her members, the more their worst suspicions are confirmed. They did not wish, they say, to believe the popular notions of her anti-Christian character; but, really, after what they have seen of her authorities and her people, nothing is left to them but an hostility to her, which they are loth to adopt. They wish to think the best of every one; but this ecclesiastical measure, that speech, that book, those persons, those expressions, that line of thought, those realized results, all tend one way, and force them to unlearn a charitableness which is as pernicious as it is illusory. Thus, my Brethren, they speak; alas, they do not see that they are assuming the very point in dispute; for the original question is, whether Catholics or they are right in their respective principles and views, and to decide it merely by what is habitual to themselves is to exercise the double office of accuser and judge. Yet multitudes, of sober and serious minds and {153} well-regulated lives, look out upon the Catholic Church and shrink back again from her presence, on no better reasons than these. They cannot endure her; their whole being revolts from her; she leaves, as they speak, a bad taste in their mouths; all is so novel, so strange, so unlike what is familiar to them, so unlike the Anglican prayer-book, so unlike some favorite author of their own, so different from what they would do or say themselves, requires so much explanation, is so strained and unnatural, so unreal and extravagant, so unquiet, nay, so disingenuous, so unfeeling, that they cannot even tolerate it. The Mass is so difficult to follow, and we say prayers so very quickly, and we sit when we should stand, and we talk so freely when we should be reserved, and we keep Sunday so differently from them, and we have such notions of our own about marriage and celibacy, and we approve of vows, and we class virtues and sins on so unreasonable a standard; these and a thousand such details are, in the case of numbers, decisive proofs that we deserve the hard names which are heaped on us by the world.

5. Recollect, too, my Brethren, that a great part of the actions of every day, when narrowly looked into, are neither good nor bad in themselves, but only in relation to the persons who do them, and the circumstances or motives under which they are done. There are actions, indeed, which no circumstances can alter; which, at all times, and in all places, are duties or sins. Veracity, purity, are always virtues—blasphemy, always a sin; but to speak against another, for instance, is not always detraction, and swearing is not always taking God's {154} name in vain. What is right in one person, may be wrong in another; and hence the various opinions which are formed of public men, who, for the most part, cannot be truly judged, except with a knowledge of their principles, characters, and motives. Here is another source of misrepresenting the Church and her servants; much of what they do admits both of a good interpretation and a bad; and when the world, as I have supposed, starts with the hypothesis that we are hypocrites or tyrants, that we are unscrupulous, crafty, and profane, it is easy to see how the very same actions which it would extol in its friends, it will unhesitatingly condemn in the instance of the objects of its hatred or suspicion. When men live in their own world, in their own habits and ways of thought, as I have been describing, they contract, not only a narrowness, but what may be called a one-sidedness of mind. They do not judge of us by the rules they apply to the conduct of themselves and each other; what they praise or allow in those they admire is an offence to them in us. Day by day, then, as it passes, furnishes, as a matter of course, a series of charges against us, simply because it furnishes a succession of our sayings and doings. Whatever we do, whatever we do not do, is a demonstration against us. Do we argue? men are surprised at our insolence or effrontery; are we silent? we are underhand and deep. Do we appeal to the law? it is in order to evade it; do we obey the Church? it is a sign of our disloyalty. Do we state our pretensions? we blaspheme; do we conceal them? we are liars and hypocrites. Do we display the pomp of our ceremonial, and the habits of our Religious? {155} our presumption has become intolerable; do we put them aside and dress as others? we are ashamed of being seen, and skulk about as conspirators. Did a Catholic priest cherish doubts of his faith? it would be an interesting and touching fact, suitable for public meetings; does a Protestant minister, on the other hand, doubt of the Protestant opinions? he is but dishonestly eating the bread of the Establishment. Does a Protestant exclude Catholic books from his house? he is a good father and master; does a Catholic do the same with Protestant tracts? he is afraid of the light. Protestants may ridicule a portion of our Scriptures under the name of the Apocrypha: we may not denounce the mere Protestant translation of the Bible. Protestants are to glory in their obedience to their ecclesiastical head; we may not be faithful to ours. A Protestant layman may determine and propound all by himself the terms of salvation; we are bigots and despots, if we do but proclaim what a thousand years have sanctioned. The Catholic is insidious, when the Protestant is prudent; the Protestant frank and honest, when the Catholic is rash or profane. Not a word that we say, not a deed that we do, but is viewed in the medium of that one idea, by the light of that one prejudice, which our enemies cherish concerning us; not a word or a deed but is grafted on the original assumption that we certainly come from below, and are the servants of Antichrist.

6. Now, my dear Brethren, I have not said a word of much more that might be insisted on, and of the greatest importance. I have not said a word of the unhappy interest that men have in denying a Religion {156} so severe against the wilful sinner as ours is:—no one likes a prophet of evil. Nor have I shown you, as I might, how natural it is, that they who sit at home and judge of all things by their personal experience of what is possible, and their private notion of what is good, should, humanly speaking, be incapable of faith in religious mysteries, such as ours. They think nothing true which is strange to them; and, in consequence, they consider our very doctrines a simple refutation of our claims. Nor, again, have I spoken of the misrepresentations and slanders with which the father of lies floods the popular mind, and which are so safe to utter, because they are, as he knows, so welcome to hear. Alas! there is no calumny too gross for the credulity of our countrymen, no imputation on us so monstrous which they will not drink up greedily like water. There is a demand for such fabrications, and there is a consequent supply; our antiquity, our vastness, our strangeness, our successes, our unmovableness, all require a solution; and the impostor is hailed as a prophet, who will extemporize against us some tale of blood, and the orator as an evangelist, who points to some real scandal of the Church, dead and gone, man or measure, as the pattern fact of Catholicism. And thus it comes to pass that we are distrusted, feared, hated, and ridiculed, whichever way we look; all parties, the most hostile to each other, are still more hostile to us, and will combine in attacking us. No one but is brave enough to spurn us; it is no cowardice to accuse us when we cannot answer, no cruelty to fasten on us what we detest. We are fair game for all comers. Other men they view and oppose {157} in their doctrines, but us they oppose in our persons; we are thought morally and individually corrupt, we have not even natural goodness; we are not merely ignorant of the new birth, but are signed and sealed as the ministers of the evil one. We have his mark on our foreheads. That we are living beings with human hearts and keen feelings, is not conceived; no, the best we can expect is to be treated as shadows of the past, names a thousand miles away, abstractions, commonplaces, historical figures, or dramatic properties, waste ground on which any load of abuse may be shot, the convenient conductors of a distempered political atmosphere—who are not Englishmen, who have not the right of citizens, nor any claim for redress, nor any plea for indulgence, but who are well off, forsooth, if they are allowed so much as to pollute this free soil with their odious presence.

And thus we are thrown back on ourselves: for nothing we can do on the stage of the world, but is turned against us as an offence. Our most innocent actions, our attempts to please the community, our sanguine expectations of conciliating our foes, our expressions of love, are flung back upon us with scorn, to our pain and disappointment. Our simplicity, inexperience of life, ignorance of human nature, or want of tact and prudence, are put down to duplicity; and the more honest and frank are our avowals, the more certainly it is thought that a fraud lurks in the background. We are never so double-dealing as when we are candid. We are never so deep as when we have been accused and acquitted. Thus we find ourselves quite at fault how {158} anything we do is likely to be taken; and at length, with wounded feelings, we determine to let it alone, as never knowing where to find men, or how to treat them. I have often been reminded, my Brethren, by these circumstances of ours, of the complication, not uncommon, I think, in the fictions of a popular writer who died some twenty years ago. He delights to represent innocent persons involved in circumstances which plausibly convict them of guilt, and which they are unable satisfactorily to explain. I think I recollect a young man who is accused of treason, and who, when fact after fact is brought forward to his disadvantage, conscious of his innocence, yet feeling the ingenuity of the allegation, and the speciousness of the evidence by which it is supported, and, moreover, the prejudice and cold suspicions of his judge, bursts into tears, buries his head in his hand, and refuses to answer any more interrogatories. "Do your worst," he seems to say, "not a word more shall you extract from me. You refuse to believe me; cease to question me. You are determined I am guilty; make the most of your persuasion." What is there represented in fiction happens to us in fact. We are innocent, we seem guilty, we despair of the vindication which we deserve; but we do not bury our faces in our hands, we raise our hands and our faces to our Redeemer. "As the eyes of servants are on the hands of their masters, and the eyes of the handmaid are on the hands of her mistress, so are our eyes unto the Lord our God, until He have mercy upon us. Have mercy on us, O Lord; have mercy on us, for we are greatly filled with contempt. We are a reproach to the rich {159} and a contempt to the proud." To Thee do we appeal, O true Judge, for Thou seest us. We care not for man while we have Thee. We can afford to part with the creature while we have the Creator. We can endure "the snare of an unjust tongue, and the lips of them that forge lies," while we have Thy presence in our assemblies, and Thy witness and Thy approval in our hearts.

We do not, then, we cannot, rejoice in a mere worldly temper or in a political tone, on occasion of the event which we are celebrating today: no, we are too conscious both of our divine prerogatives and our high destiny, and again of the weight of that calumny and reproach which is our cross. We rejoice, not "as those who rejoice in the harvest, or as conquerors rejoice when they divide the spoils." We rejoice surely, but solemnly, religiously, courageously, as the priests of the Lord, when they were carrying into battle "the ark of the Lord, the God of the whole earth." We rejoice, as those who love men's souls so well that they would go through much to save them, yet love God more, and find the full reward of all disappointments in Him; as those whose work lies with sinners, but whose portion is with the saints. We love you, O men of this generation, but we fear you not. Understand well and lay it to heart, that we will do the work of God and fulfil our mission, with your consent, if we can get it, but in spite of you, if we cannot. You cannot touch us except in a way of which you do not dream, by the arm of force; nor do we dream of asking for more than that which the Apostle claimed, freedom of speech, "an open door," which, through God's {160} grace, will be "evident," though there be "many adversaries." We do but wish to subdue you by appeals to your reason and to your heart; give us but a fair field and in due time, and we hope to gain our point. I do not say that we shall gain it in this generation; I do not say we shall gain it without our own suffering; but we look on to the future, and we do not look at ourselves. As to ourselves, the world has long ago done its worst against us: long ago has it seasoned us for this encounter. In the way of obloquy and ridicule it has exhausted upon us long since all it had to pour, and now it is resourceless. More it cannot say against us than it has said already. We have parted company with it for many years; we have long chosen our portion with the old faith once delivered to the saints, and we have intimately comprehended that a penalty is attached to the profession. No one proclaims the truth to a deceived world, but will be treated himself as a deceiver. We know our place and our fortunes: to give a witness, and to be reviled; to be cast out as evil, and to succeed. Such is the law which the Lord of all has annexed to the promulgation of the truth: its preachers suffer, but its cause prevails. Joyfully have we become a party to this bargain; and as we have resigned ourselves to the price, so we intend, by God's aid, to claim the compensation.

Fear not, therefore, dear Brethren of the household of faith, any trouble that may come upon us, or upon you, if trouble be God's will; trouble will but prove the simplicity of our and your devotion to Him. When our Lord walked on the sea, Peter went out to meet Him, {161} and, "seeing the wind strong he was afraid." Doubt not that He, who caught the disciple by the hand, will appear, to rescue you; doubt not that He, who could tread the billows so securely, can self-sustained bear any weight your weakness throws upon Him, and can be your immovable refuge and home amid the tossing and tumult of the storm. The waves roared round the Apostle, they could do nothing more: they could but excite his fear; they could but assault his faith; they could not hurt him but by tempting him; they could not overcome him except through himself. While he was true to himself, he was safe; when he feared and doubted, he began to sink. So it is now: "your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about:" it is all he can do. So says the great Saint Antony, the first monk, who lived his long life in the Egyptian desert, and had abundant experience of conflicts with the evil one. He tells his children that bad spirits make a noise and clatter, and shout and roar, because they have nothing else to do; it is their way of driving us from our Saviour. Let us be true to ourselves, and the blustering wind will drop, the furious sea will calm. No, I fear not, my Brethren, this momentary clamour of our foe: I fear not this great people, among whom we dwell, of whose blood we come, and who have still, under the habits of these later centuries, the rudiments of that faith by which, in the beginning, they were new-born to God: who still, despite the loss of heavenly gifts, retain the love of justice, manly bearing, and tenderness of heart, which Gregory saw in their very faces. I have no fear about our Holy Father, whose sincerity of affection towards His ancient {162} flock, whose simplicity and truthfulness I know full well. I have no fear about the zeal of the college of our bishops, the sanctity of the body of our clergy, or the inward perfection of our Religious. One thing alone I fear. I fear the presence of sin in the midst of us. My Brethren, the success of the Church lies not with pope, or bishops, or priests, or monks; it rests with yourselves. If the present mercies of God come to nought, it will be because sin has undone them. The drunkard, the blasphemer, the unjust dealer, the profligate liver—these will be our ruin; the open scandal, the secret sin known only to God, these form the devil's real host. We can conquer every foe but these: corruption, hollowness, neglect of mercies, deadness of heart, worldliness—these will be too much for us.

And, O my dear Brethren, if, through God's mercy, you are among those who are shielded from these more palpable dangers and more ordinary temptations of humanity, then go on to pray for all who are in a like state with yourselves, that we may all "forget the things that are behind, and stretch forth to those that are before"; that we may "join with faith, virtue, and with virtue, knowledge, and with knowledge, abstinence, and with abstinence, patience, and with patience, pity, and with pity, love of brotherhood, and with love of brotherhood, charity." Pray that we may not come short of that destiny to which God calls us; that we may be visited by His effectual grace, enabling us to break the bonds of luke-warmness and sloth, to command our will, to rule our actions through the day, to grow continually in devotion and fervour of spirit, and, while our natural vigour decays, to feel that keener energy which comes from heaven.

(Preached Oct. 27, 1850, in St. Chad's, Birmingham, on occasion of the Installation of Dr. Ullathorne, the first Bishop of the See.)

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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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