Friday, April 11, 2003

From "The Infinitude of the Divine Attributes"
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

" Semetipsum exinanivit, 'He made Himself void or empty,' as the earth had been 'void and empty' at the beginning; He seemed to be unbinding and letting loose the assemblage of attributes which made Him God, and to be destroying the idea which He Himself had implanted in our minds. The God of miracles did the most awful of signs and wonders, by revoking and contradicting, as it were, all His perfections, though He remained the while one and the same. Omnipotence became an abject; the Life became a leper; the first and only Fair came down to us with an 'inglorious visage,' and an 'unsightly form,' bleeding and (I may say) ghastly, lifted up in nakedness and stretched out in dislocation before the eyes of sinners. Not content with this, He perpetuates the history of His humiliation; men of this world, when they fall into trouble, and then recover themselves, hide the memorials of it. They conceal their misfortunes in prospect, as long as they can; bear them perforce, when they fall into them; and, when they have overcome them, affect to make light of them. Kings of the earth, when they have rid themselves of their temporary conquerors, and are reinstated on their thrones, put all things back into their former state, and remove from their palaces, council-rooms, and cities, whether statue or picture or inscription or edict, all of which bear witness to the suspension of their power. Soldiers indeed boast of their scars, but it is because their foes were well-matched with them, and their conflicts were necessary, and the marks of what they have suffered is a proof of what they have done; but He, who oblatus est, quia voluit, who "was offered, for He willed it," who exposed Himself to the powers of evil, yet could have saved us without that exposure, who was neither weak in that He was overcome, nor strong in that He overcame, proclaims to the whole world what He has gone through, without the tyrant's shame, without the soldier's pride—He (wonderful it is) has raised up on high, He has planted over the earth, the memorial, that that Evil One whom He cast out of heaven in the beginning, has in the hour of darkness inflicted agony upon Him. For in truth, by consequence of the infinitude of His glory, He is more beautiful in His weakness than in His strength; His wounds shine like stars of light; His very Cross becomes an object of worship; the instruments of His passion, the nails and the thorny crown, are replete with miraculous power. And so He bids the commemoration of His Bloody Sacrifice to be made day by day all over the earth, and He Himself is there in Person to quicken and sanctify it; He rears His bitter but saving Cross in every Church and over every Altar; He shows Himself torn and bleeding upon the wood at the corners of each street and in every village market-place; He makes it the symbol of His religion; He seals our foreheads, our lips, and our breast with this triumphant sign; with it He begins and ends our days, and with it He consigns us to the tomb. And when He comes again, that Sign of the Son of Man will be seen in heaven; and when He takes His seat in judgment, the same glorious marks will be seen by all the world in His Hands, Feet, and Side, which were dug into them at the season of His degradation. Thus 'hath King Solomon made himself a litter of the wood of Libanus. The pillars thereof he made of silver, the seat of gold, the going up of purple; the midst he covered with charity for the daughters of Jerusalem. Go forth, ye daughters of Sion; and see King Solomon in the diadem, wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of his heart's joy.' "

Discourses to Mixed Congregations, 1849


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