Discourse 8. Nature and Grace

{145} IN the Parable of the Good Shepherd our Lord sets before us a dispensation or state of things, which is very strange in the eyes of the world. He speaks of mankind as consisting of two bodies, distinct from each other, divided by as real a line of demarcation as the fence which encloses the sheepfold. "I am the Door," He says, "by Me if any man shall have entered in, he shall be saved: and he shall go in and go out, and shall find pastures. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me and I give them life everlasting; and they shall not perish for ever, and no man shall snatch them out of My Hand." And in His last prayer for His disciples to His Eternal Father, He says, "I have manifested Thy Name to the men whom Thou hast given Me out of the world. Thine they were, and Thou hast given them to Me, and they have kept Thy word. I pray for them, I pray not for the world, but for those whom Thou hast given Me, for they are Thine. Holy Father, keep them in Thy Name whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as We also." {146} Nor are these passages solitary or singular; "Fear not, little flock," He says by another Evangelist, "for it hath pleased your Father to give you the kingdom". And again, "I thank Thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto little ones;" and again, "How narrow is the gate, and strait the way which leadeth to life, and few there are who find it!" St. Paul repeats and insists on this doctrine of his Lord, "Ye were once darkness, but now are light in the Lord;" "He hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love". And St. John, "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. They are of the world, we are of God." Thus there are two parties on this earth, and two only, if we view men in their religious aspect; those, the few, who hear Christ's words and follow Him, who are in the light, and walk in the narrow way, and have the promise of heaven; and those, on the other hand, who are many, for whom Christ prays not, though He has died for them, who are wise and prudent in their own eyes, who are possessed by the Evil One, and are subject to his rule.

And such is the view taken of mankind, as by their Maker and Redeemer, so also by the small company in whom He lives and is glorified; but far differently does the larger body, the world itself, look upon mankind at large, upon its own vast multitudes, and upon those whom God has taken out of it for His own special {147} inheritance. It considers that all men are pretty much on a level, or that, differ though they may, they differ by such fine shades from each other, that it is impossible, because forsooth it would be untrue and unjust, to divide them into two bodies, or to divide them at all. "Each man is like himself and no one else; each man has his own opinions, his own rule of faith and conduct, his own worship; if a number join together in a religious form, this is an accident, for the sake of convenience; for each is complete in himself; religion is simply a personal concern; there is no such thing really as a common or joint religion, that is, one in which a number of men, strictly speaking, partake; it is all matter of private judgment. Hence, as they sometimes proceed even to avow, there is no such thing as a true religion or a false; that is true to each, which each sincerely believes to be true; and what is true to one, is not true to his neighbour. There are no special doctrines, necessary to be believed in order to salvation; it is not very difficult to be saved; and most men may take it for granted that they shall be saved. All men are in God's favour, except so far as, and while, they commit acts of sin; but when the sin is over, they get back into His favour again, naturally and as a thing of course, no one knows how, owing to God's infinite indulgence, unless indeed they persevere and die in a course of sin, and perhaps even then. There is no such place as hell, or at least punishment is not eternal. Predestination, election, grace, perseverance, faith, sanctity, unbelief, and reprobation are strange ideas, {148} and, as they think, very false ones." This is the cast of opinion of men in general, in proportion as they exercise their minds on the subject of religion, and think for themselves; and if in any respect they depart from the easy, cheerful, and tranquil temper of mind which it expresses, it is when they are led to think of those who presume to take the contrary view, that is, who take the view set forth by Christ and His Apostles. On these they are commonly severe, that is, on the very persons whom God acknowledges as His, and is training heavenward,—on Catholics, who are the witnesses and preachers of those awful doctrines of grace, which condemn the world, and which the world cannot endure.

In truth the world does not know of the existence of grace; nor is it wonderful, for it is ever contented with itself and has never turned to account the supernatural aids bestowed upon it. Its highest idea of man lies in the order of nature; its pattern man is the natural man; it thinks it wrong to be anything else than a natural man. It sees that nature has a number of tendencies, inclinations, and passions; and because these are natural, it thinks that each of them may be indulged for its own sake, so far as it does no harm to others, or to a person's bodily, mental, and temporal well-being. It considers that want of moderation, or excess, is the very definition of sin, if it goes so far as to recognise that word. It thinks that he is the perfect man who eats, and drinks, and sleeps, and walks, and diverts himself, and studies, and writes, and attends to religion, in moderation. The devotional {149} feeling and the intellect, and the flesh, have each its claim upon us, and each must have play, if the Creator is to be duly honoured. It does not understand, it will not admit, that impulses and propensities, which are found in our nature, as God created it, may nevertheless, if indulged, become sins, on the ground that He has subjected them to higher principles, whether these principles be in our nature, or be superadded to our nature. Hence it is very slow to believe that evil thoughts are really displeasing to God, and incur punishment. Works, indeed, tangible actions, which are seen and which have influence, it will allow to be wrong; but it will not believe even that deeds are sinful, or that they are more than reprehensible, if they are private or personal; and it is blind utterly to the malice of thoughts, of imaginations, of wishes, and of words. Because the wild emotions of anger, lust, greediness, craft, cruelty, are no sin in the brute creation, which has neither the means nor the command to repress them, therefore they are no sins in a being who has a diviner sense and a controlling power. Concupiscence, it considers, may be indulged, because it is in its first elements natural.

Behold here the true origin and fountain-head of the warfare between the Church and the world; here they join issue, and diverge from each other. The Church is built upon the doctrine that impurity is hateful to God, and that concupiscence is its root; with the Prince of the Apostles, her visible Head, she denounces "the corruption of concupiscence which is in the world," or, that corruption in the world which {150} comes of concupiscence; whereas the corrupt world defends, nay, I may even say, sanctifies that very concupiscence which is the world's corruption. Just as its bolder teachers, as you know, my brethren, hold that the laws of this physical creation are so supreme, as to allow of their utterly disbelieving in the existence of miracles, so, in like manner, it deifies and worships human nature and its impulses, and denies the power and the grant of grace. This is the source of the hatred which the world bears to the Church; it finds a whole catalogue of sins brought into light and denounced, which it would fain believe to be no sins at all; it finds itself to its indignation and impatience, surrounded with sin, morning, noon, and night; it finds that a stern law lies against it in matters where it believed it was its own master and need not think of God; it finds guilt accumulating upon it hourly, which nothing can prevent, nothing remove, but a higher power, the grace of God. It finds itself in danger of being humbled to the earth as a rebel, instead of being allowed to indulge its self-dependence and self-complacency. Hence it takes its stand on nature, and denies or rejects divine grace. Like the proud spirit in the beginning, it wishes to find its supreme good in its own itself, and nothing above it; it undertakes to be sufficient for its own happiness; it has no desire for the supernatural, and therefore does not believe in it. And because nature cannot rise above nature, it will not believe that the narrow way is possible; it hates those who enter upon it as if pretenders and hypocrites, or laughs at their {151} aspirations as romance and fanaticism; lest it should have to believe in the existence of grace.

Now you may think, my brethren, from the way in which I have been contrasting nature and grace, that they cannot possibly be mistaken for each other; but I wish to show you, in the next place, how grace may be mistaken for nature, and nature mistaken for grace. And in explaining this very grave matter, I wish, lest I should be misunderstood, first to say distinctly, that I am merely comparing and contrasting nature and grace one with another in their several characters, and by no means presuming to apply what I shall say of them to actual individuals, or to judge what persons, living or dead, are specimens of the one or of the other. This then being my object, I repeat that, contrary to what might be thought, they may easily be mistaken for each other, because, as it is plain from what I have said, the difference is in a great measure an inward, and therefore a secret one. Grace is lodged in the heart; it purifies the thoughts and motives, it raises the soul to God, it sanctifies the body, it corrects and exalts human nature in regard to those sins of which men are ashamed, and do not make a public display. Accordingly, in outward show, in single actions, in word, in profession, in teaching, in the social and political virtues, in striking and heroical exploits, on the public transitory scene of things, nature may counterfeit grace, nay even to the deception of the man himself in whom the counterfeit occurs. Recollect that it is by nature, not by grace, that man has the gifts of {152} reason and conscience; and mere reason and conscience will lead him to discover, and in a measure pursue, objects which are, properly speaking, supernatural and divine. From the things which are seen, from the voice of tradition, from the existence of the soul, and from the necessity of the case, the natural reason can infer the existence of God. The natural heart can burst forth by fits and starts into emotions of love towards Him; the natural imagination can depict the beauty and glory of His attributes; the natural conscience may ascertain and put in order the truths of the great moral law, nay even to the condemnation of that concupiscence, which it is too weak to subdue, and is therefore persuaded to tolerate. The natural will can do many things really good and praiseworthy; nay, in particular cases, or at particular seasons, when temptation is away, it may seem to have a strength which it has not, and to be imitating the austerity and purity of a Saint. One man has no temptation to this sin, nor another to that; hence human nature may often show to great advantage; and, as seen in its happier specimens, it may become quite a trial to faith, seeing that in its best estate it has really no relationship to the family of Christ, and no claim whatever to a heavenly reward,—though it can talk of Christ and heaven too, read Scripture, and "do many things willingly" in consequence of reading it, and can exercise a certain sort of belief, however different from that faith which is imparted to us by grace.

For instance, it is a most mournful, often quite a piercing thought, to contemplate the conduct and the {153} character of those who have never received the elementary grace of God in the Sacrament of Baptism [Note]. They may be in fact, so benevolent, so active and untiring in their benevolence; they may be so wise and so considerate; they may have so much in them to engage the affections of those who see them! Well, let us leave them to God; His grace is over all the earth; if that grace comes to good effect and bears fruit in the hearts of the unbaptised, He will reward it; but, where grace is not, there doubtless what looks so fair has its reward in this world, such good as is in it having no better claim on a heavenly reward than skill in any art or science, than eloquence or wit. And moreover, it often happens, that, where there is much that is specious and amiable, there is also much that is sinful, and frightfully so. Men show their best face in the world; but for the greater part of their time, the many hours of the day and the night, they are shut up in their own thoughts. They are their own witnesses, none see them besides, save God and His Angels; therefore in such cases we can only judge of what we actually see, and can only admire what is in itself good, without having any means of determining the real moral condition of those who display it. Just as children are caught by the mere good-nature and familiarity with which they are treated by some grown man, and have no means or thought of forming a judgment about him in other respects, and may be surprised, when they grow up, to find how unworthy he is of their respect or affection; as the {154} uneducated, who have seen very little of the world, have no faculties for distinguishing between one rank of men and another, and consider all persons on a level who are respectably dressed, whatever be their accent, their carriage, or their countenance; so all of us, not children only or the uncultivated, are but novices, or less than novices, in the business of deciding what is the real state in God's sight of this or that man, who is external to the Church, yet in character or conduct resembles her true sons.

Not entering then upon this point, which is beyond us, so much we even can see and are sure of, that human nature is, in a degree beyond all words, inconsistent, and that we must not take for granted that it can do anything at all more than it actually does, or that those, in whom it shows most plausibly, are a whit better than they look. We see the best, and (as far as moral excellence goes) the whole of them. We cannot argue from what we see in favour of what we do not see; we cannot take what we see as a specimen of what they really are. Sad, then, as the spectacle of such a man is to a Catholic, he is no difficulty to him. He may have many virtues, yet he may have nothing of a special Christian cast about him, humility, purity, or devotion. He may like his own way intensely, have a great opinion of his own powers, scoff at faith and religious fear, and seldom or never have said a prayer in his life. Nay, even outward gravity of deportment is no warrant that there is not within an habitual indulgence of evil thoughts, and secret offences odious to Almighty God. We admire, for {155} instance, whatever is excellent in the ancient heathen; we acknowledge without jealousy whatever they have done virtuous and praiseworthy, but we understand as little of the character or destiny of the being in whom that goodness is found, as we understand the nature of the material substances which present themselves to us under the outward garb of shape and colour. They are to us as unknown causes which have influenced or disturbed the world, and which manifest themselves in certain great effects, political, social, or ethical; they are to us as pictures, which appeal to the eye, but not to the touch. We do not know that they would prove to be more real than a painting, if we could touch them. Thus much we know, that, if they have attained to heaven, it has been by the grace of God and their cooperation with it; if they have lived without using that grace which is given to all, they have no hope of life; and, if they have lived and died in mortal sin, they are in the state of bad Catholics, and have the prospect of never-ending death.

Yet, if we allow ourselves to take the mere outward appearance of things, and the happier, though partial and occasional, efforts of human nature, how great it is, how amiable, how brilliant,—that is, if we may pretend to the power of viewing it distinct from the supernatural influences which have ever haunted it! How great are the old Greek lawgivers and statesmen, whose histories and works are known to some of us, and whose names to many more! How great are those stern Roman heroes, who conquered the world, and prepared the way for Christ! How wise, how profound, {156} are those ancient teachers and sages! what power of imagination, what a semblance of prophecy, is manifest in their poets! The present world is in many respects not so great as in that old time, but even now there is enough in it to show both the strength of human nature in this respect, and its weakness. Consider the solidity of our own political fabric at home, and the expansion of our empire abroad, and you will have matter enough spread out before you to occupy many a long day in admiration of the genius, the virtues, and the resources of human nature. Take a second meditation upon it; alas! you will find nothing of faith there, but mainly expedience as the measure of right and wrong, and temporal well-being as the end of action.

Again, many are the tales and poems written now-a-days, expressing high and beautiful sentiments; I dare say some of you, my brethren, have fallen in with them, and perhaps you have thought to yourselves, that he must be a man of deep religious feeling and high religious profession who could write so well. Is it so in fact, my brethren? it is not so; why? because after all it is but poetry, not religion; it is human nature exerting the powers of imagination and reason, which it has, till it seems also to have powers which it has not. There are, you know, in the animal world various creatures, which are able to imitate the voice of man; nature in like manner is often a mockery of grace. The truth is, the natural man sees this or that principle to be good or true from the light of conscience; and then, since he has the power of reasoning, he knows that, if this be true, many other things are true likewise; {157} and then, having the power of imagination, he pictures to himself those other things as true, though he does not really understand them. And then he brings to his aid what he has read and gained from others who have had grace, and thus he completes his sketch; and then he throws his feelings and his heart into it, meditates on it, and kindles in himself a sort of enthusiasm, and thus he is able to write beautifully and touchingly about what to others indeed may be a reality, but to him is nothing more than a fiction. Thus some can write about the early Martyrs, and others describe some great Saint of the Middle Ages, not exactly as a Catholic would, but as if they had a piety and a seriousness to which really they are strangers. So, too, actors on a stage can excite themselves till they think they are the persons they represent; and, as you know, prejudiced persons, who wish to quarrel with another, impute something to him, which at first they scarcely believe themselves; but they wish to believe it and act as if it were true, and raise and cherish anger at the thought of it, till at last they come simply to believe it. So it is, I say, in the case of many an author in verse and prose; readers are deceived by his fine writing; they not only praise this or that sentiment, or argument, or description, in what they read, which happens to be true, but they put faith in the writer himself; and they believe sentiments or statements which are false on the credit of the truth. Thus it is that people are led away into false religions and false philosophies; a preacher or speaker, who is in a state of nature, or has fallen from grace, is able to say {158} many things to touch the heart of a sinner or to strike his conscience, whether from his natural powers, or from what he has read in books; and the latter forthwith takes him for his prophet and guide, on the warrant of these accidental truths which it required no supernatural gifts to discover and enforce.

Scripture provides us an instance of such a prophet (nay, of one far more favoured and honoured than any false teacher is now), who nevertheless was the enemy of God; I mean the prophet Balaam. He went forth to curse the chosen people in spite of an express prohibition from heaven, and that for money; and at length he died fighting against them in battle. Such was he in his life and in his death; such were his deeds; but what were his words? most religious, most conscientious, most instructive. "If Balac," he says, "shall give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot alter the word of the Lord my God." Again, "Let my soul die the death of the just, and let my end be like to theirs!" And again, "I will show thee, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requireth of thee; to do judgment and to love mercy, and to walk heedfully with thy God". Here is a man, who is not in a state of grace, speaking so religiously, that at first sight you might have thought he was to be followed in whatever he said, and that your soul would have been safe with his.

And thus it often happens, that those who seem so amiable and good, and so trustworthy, when we only know them from their writings, disappoint us so painfully, if at length we come to have a personal acquaintance {159} with them. We do not recognise in the living being the eloquence or the wisdom which so much enchanted us. He is rude, perhaps, and unfeeling; he is selfish, he is dictatorial, he is sensual, he is empty-minded and frivolous; while we in our simplicity had antecedently thought him the very embodiment of purity and tenderness, or an oracle of heavenly truth.

Now, my dear brethren, I have been engaged in bringing before you what human nature can do, and what it can appear, without being reconciled to God, without any hope of heaven, without any security against sin, without any pardon of the original curse, nay, in the midst of mortal sin; but it is a state which has never existed in fact, without great modifications. No one has ever been deprived of the assistance of grace, both for illumination and conversion; even the heathen world as a whole had to a certain extent its darkness relieved by these fitful and recurrent gleams of light; but I have thought it useful to get you to contemplate what human nature is, viewed in itself for various reasons. It explains how it is that men look so like each other as they do,—grace being imitated, and, as it were, rivalled by nature, both in society at large, and in the hearts of particular persons. Hence the world will not believe the separation really existing between it and the Church, and the smallness of the flock of Christ. And hence too it is, that numbers who have heard the Name of Christ, and profess to believe in the Gospel, will not be persuaded as regards themselves that they are exterior to the Church, and do not enjoy her privileges; merely because {160} they do their duty in some general way, or because they are conscious to themselves of being benevolent or upright. And this is a point which concerns Catholics too, as I now proceed to show you.

Make yourselves quite sure then, my brethren, of the matter of fact, before you go away with the belief, that you are not confusing, in your own case, nature and grace, and taking credit to yourselves for supernatural works, which merit heaven, when you are but doing the works of a heathen, are unforgiven, and lie under an eternal sentence. O, it is a dreadful thought, that a man may deceive himself with the notion that he is secure, merely because he is a Catholic, and because he has some kind of love and fear of God, whereas he may be no better than many a Protestant round about him, who either never was baptised, or threw himself once for all out of grace on coming to years of understanding. This idea is entirely conceivable; it is well if it be not true in matter of fact. You know, it is one opinion entertained among divines and holy men, that the number of Catholics that are to be saved will on the whole be small. Multitudes of those who never knew the Gospel will rise up in the judgment against the children of the Church, and will be shown to have done more with scantier opportunities. Our Lord speaks of His people as a small flock, as I cited His words when I began: He says, "Many are called, few are chosen". St. Paul, speaking in the first instance of the Jews, says that but "a remnant is saved according to the election of grace". He speaks even of the possibility of his own reprobation. {161} What a thought in an Apostle! yet it is one with which Saints are familiar; they fear both for themselves and for others. It is related in the history of my own dear Patron, St. Philip Neri, that some time after his death he appeared to a holy religious, and bade him take a message of consolation to his children, the Fathers of the Oratory. The consolation was this, that, by the grace of God, up to that day not one of the Congregation had been lost. "None of them lost!" a man may cry out; "well, had his consolation for his children been, that they were all in paradise, having escaped the dark lake of purgatory, that would have been something worth telling; but all he had to say was, that none of them were in hell! Strange if they were! Here was a succession of men, who had given up the world for a religious life, who had given up self for God and their neighbour, who had passed their days in prayer and good works, who had died happily with the last Sacraments, and it is revealed about them, as a great consolation, that not even one of them was lost!" Still such after all is our holy Father's consolation; and, that it should be such, only proves that salvation is not so easy a matter, or so cheap a possession, as we are apt to suppose. It is not obtained by the mere wishing. And, if it was a gift so to be coveted by men, who had made sacrifices for Christ, and were living in sanctity, how much more rare and arduous of attainment is it in those who have confessedly loved the world more than God, and have never dreamed of doing any duty to which the Church did not oblige them! {162}

Tell me, what is the state of your souls and the rule of your lives? You come to Confession, once a year;—four times a year;—at the Indulgences;—you communicate as often; do you not miss Mass on days of obligation; you are not conscious of any great sin.—There you come to an end; you have nothing more to say. What? do you not take God's name in vain? only when you are angry; that is, I suppose, you are subject to fits of violent passion, in which you use every shocking word which the devil puts into your mouth, and abuse and curse, and perhaps strike the objects of your anger?—Only now and then, you say, when you are in liquor. Then it seems you are given to intoxication?—you answer, you never drink so much as not to know what you are doing. Do you really mean that for an excuse! Well, have you improved in these respects in the course of several years past? You cannot say you have, but such sins are not mortal at the most. Then, I suppose, you have not lately fallen into mortal sin at all? You pause, and then you are obliged to confess that you have, and that once and again; and the more I question you, perhaps the longer becomes the catalogue of offences which have separated you from God. But this is not all; your sole idea of sin is, the sinning in act and in deed; sins of habit, which cling so close to you that they are difficult to detect, and manifest themselves in slight but continual influences on your thoughts, words, and works, do not engage your attention at all. You are selfish, and obstinate, and worldly, and self-indulgent; you neglect your children; {163} you are fond of idle amusements; you scarcely ever think of God from day to day, for I cannot call your hurried prayers morning and night any thinking of Him at all. You are friends with the world, and live a good deal among those who have no sense of religion.

Now what have you to tell me which will set against this? what good have you done? in what is your hope of heaven? whence do you gain it? You perhaps answer me, that the Sacrament of Penance reconciles you from time to time to God; that you live in the world; that you are not called to the religious state; that it is true you love the world more than God, but that you love God sufficiently for salvation, and that you rely in the hour of death upon the powerful intercession of the Blessed Mother of God. Then besides, you have a number of good points, which you go through, and which are to you signs that you are in the grace of God; you conceive that your state at worst is one of tepidity. Tepidity! I tell you, you have no marks of tepidity; do you wish to know what a tepid person is? one who has begun to lead almost the life of a Saint, and has fallen from his fervour; one who retains his good practices, but does them without devotion; one who does so much, that we only blame him for not doing more. No, you need not confess tepidity, my brother;—do you wish to have the judgment which I am led to form about you? it is, that probably you are not in the grace of God at all. The probability is, that for a long while past you have gone to Confession without the proper dispositions, without real grief, and without sincere purpose of {164} amendment for your sins. You are probably such, that were you to die this night, you would be lost for ever. What do you do more than nature does? You do certain good things; "what reward have ye? do not even the publicans so? what do ye more than others? do not even the heathen so?" You have the ordinary virtues of human nature, or some of them; you are what nature made you, and care not to be better. You may be naturally kind-hearted, and then you do charitable actions to others; you have a natural strength of character,—if so, you are able to bring your passions under the power of reason; you have a natural energy, and you labour for your family; you are naturally mild, and so you do not quarrel; you have a dislike of intemperance, and therefore you are sober. You have the virtues of your Protestant neighbours, and their faults too; what are you better than they?

Here is another grave matter against you, that you are so well with the Protestants about you; I do not mean to say that you are not bound to cultivate peace with all men, and to do them all the offices of charity in your power. Of course you are, and if they respect, esteem, and love you, it redounds to your praise and will gain you a reward; but I mean more than this; I mean they do not respect you, but they like you, because they think of you as of themselves, they see no difference between themselves and you. This is the very reason why they so often take your part, and assert or defend your political rights. Here again, there is a sense, of course, in which our civil rights may be advocated by Protestants without any reflection on us, and {165} with honour to them. We are like others in this, that we are men; that we are members of the same state with them, subjects, contented subjects, of the same Sovereign, that we have a dependence on them, and have them dependent on us; that, like them, we feel pain when ill-used, and are grateful when well-treated. We need not be ashamed of a fellowship like this, and those who recognise it in us are generous in doing so. But we have much cause to be ashamed, and much cause to be anxious what God thinks of us, if we gain their support by giving them a false impression in our persons of what the Catholic Church is and what Catholics are bound to be, what bound to believe, and to do; and is not this the case often, my brethren, that the world takes up your interests, because you share its sins?

Nature is one with nature, grace with grace; the world then witnesses against you by being good friends with you; you could not have got on with the world so well, without surrendering something which was precious and sacred. The world likes you, all but your professed creed; distinguishes you from your creed in its judgment of you, and would fain separate you from it in fact. Men say, "These persons are better than their Church; we have not a word to say for their Church; but Catholics are not what they were, they are very much like other men now. Their Creed certainly is bigoted and cruel, but what would you have of them? You cannot expect them to confess this; let them change quietly, no one changes in public,—be satisfied that they are changed. They are {166} as fond of the world as we are; they take up political objects as warmly; they like their own way just as well; they do not like strictness a whit better; they hate spiritual thraldom, and they are half ashamed of the Pope and his Councils. They hardly believe any miracles now, and are annoyed when their own brethren confess that there are such; they never speak of purgatory; they are sore about images; they avoid the subject of Indulgences; and they will not commit themselves to the doctrine of exclusive salvation. The Catholic doctrines are now mere badges of party. Catholics think for themselves and judge for themselves, just as we do; they are kept in their Church by a point of honour, and a reluctance at seeming to abandon a fallen cause."

Such is the judgment of the world, and you, my brethren, are shocked to hear it;—but may it not be, that the world knows more about you than you know about yourselves? "If ye had been of the world," says Christ, "the world would love its own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." So speaks Christ of His Apostles. How run His words when applied to you? "If ye be of the world, the world will love its own; therefore ye are of the world, and I have not chosen you out of the world, because the world doth love you." Do not complain of the world's imputing to you more than is true; those who live as the world lives give countenance to those who think them of the world, and seem to form but one party with them. In proportion as you put off the yoke {167} of Christ, so does the world by a sort of instinct recognise you, and think well of you accordingly. Its highest compliment is to tell you that you disbelieve. O my brethren, there is an eternal enmity between the world and the Church. The Church declares by the mouth of an Apostle, "Whoso will be a friend of the world, becomes an enemy of God;" and the world retorts, and calls the Church apostate, sorceress, Beelzebub, and Antichrist. She is the image and the mother of the predestinate, and, if you would be found among her children when you die, you must have part in her reproach while you live. Does not the world scoff at all that is glorious, all that is majestic, in our holy religion? Does it not speak against the special creations of God's grace? Does it not disbelieve the possibility of purity and chastity? Does it not slander the profession of celibacy? Does it not deny the virginity of Mary? Does it not cast out her very name as evil? Does it not scorn her as "a dead woman," whom you know to be the Mother of all the living, and the great Intercessor of the faithful? Does it not ridicule the Saints? Does it not make light of their relics? Does it not despise the Sacraments? Does it not blaspheme the awful Presence which dwells upon our altars, and mock bitterly and fiercely at our believing that what it calls bread and wine is that very same Body and Blood of the Lamb, which lay in Mary's womb and hung on the Cross? What are we, that we should be better treated than our Lord, and His Mother, and His servants, and His works? Nay, what are we, if we be better treated, {168} but friends of those who thus treat us well, and who ill-treat Him?

O my dear brethren, be children of grace, not of nature; be not seduced by this world's sophistries and assumptions; it pretends to be the work of God, but in reality it comes of Satan. "I know My sheep," says our Lord, "and Mine know Me, and they follow Me." "Show me, O Thou whom my soul loveth," says the Bride in the Canticle, "where Thou feedest, where Thou restest at noon:" and He answers her, "Go forth, and follow after the steps of the flocks, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents". Let us follow the Saints, as they follow Christ; so that, when He comes in judgment, and the wretched world sinks to perdition, "on us sinners, His servants, hoping in the multitude of His mercies, He may vouchsafe to bestow some portion and fellowship with His Holy Apostles and Martyrs, with John, Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, Ignatius, Alexander, Marcelline, Peter, Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cicely, Anastasia, and all His Saints, not for the value of our merit, but according to the bounty of His pardon, through the same Christ our Lord".

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Note

Vid. Sermons on Subjects of the Day, pp. 68-70.
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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