Monday, January 19, 2004

On January 19, 1851
Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., preached a sermon, of which the following notes survive.

" On the Name of Jesus
1. It has been from the beginning the order of Providence—nay, even verbum—not to create without giving a name. As grace is necessary to keep things together lest they dissipate, so a name is, as it were, the crown of the work, as giving it a meaning and description, and, as it were, registering it before Him. Henceforth it lives in His sight, as being in His catalogue.

2. Thus 'day' and 'night,' 'earth' and 'seas.' Hence Adam named his wife and the beasts, etc. Hence Abraham's name changed; Jacob's, Sarah's, Isaac's; Isaac's given, Jacob's changed; St. John Baptist; St. Peter and St. Paul. These names are descriptive.

3. Hence anxiety of men to know God's name. They are born in ignorance. They have a sense there is a God, but what is He? The heavens and earth do not condense and concentrate His manifold attributes, etc. They give hints, glimpses, snatches, but what is He? Hence He is the unknown God, and men are but 'feeling after Him' by what they see. They are in God; He surrounds them, but they want to gaze on Him objectively.

4. Thus Jacob about the angel, 'What is thy name?' And to Manue, 'Why askest thou my name, which is mirabile?' Judg. xiii. 18. Moses bolder. God had been called 'God of Abraham,' etc. Adonai.

5. Hence you see a meaning why the Eternal Son would reveal this, that the Name of that Son was of consequence; it was a manifestation of the nature and attributes of God—Admirabilis, Isa. ix. 6 ; Emmanuel, Isa. vii. 14. Still, however, the name was not told. At length Gabriel said it, Luke i. 31; circumcision, Luke ii. 21; angel to Joseph, Matt. i. 21, His name was called Jesus. And hence the devils: 'Jesus the Son of God'; 'I know thee who thou art.' On the cross. The first miracle of St. Peter and St. John, Acts iii.—'in the name,' 'this name,' 'no other name'—and St. Paul in Phil. ii. 8-11 . The two great apostles, the angels from Gabriel, devils from the possessed, and men from the circumcision.

6. For in this the whole history of salvation, the whole creed—how God would save men, how He loved them, etc., recounting the Christian doctrine . Thus when we would know who God is, we answer, Jesus. We see God in the clouds, in the mountains, etc., and who is He? Jesus. Who then rules? Who is looking, the ruler of bad men? Who is looking, the guardian of the virtuous? Who, etc.? and we answer, Jesus. He is the one word containing in itself all power, etc., because in it we thereby have in our minds the full description of Almighty God.

7. And in it an answer to all objections and difficulties. It surpasses all (this is the point of the sermon): whatever difficulties, whatever mysteries in religion, this comprehends and protects them. What is more wonderful than that God should become man. Real Presence, power of Mary, purgatory, eternal punishment, intercession of saints, election, original sin. The whole Catholic system bound up in it.

8. Hence, and since Protestants have the name of Jesus on their lips, it is the test whether or not they understand it, i.e. their taking Catholic doctrine or not. If they don't, if they stumble at it, they don't understand Jesus. On invincible ignorance, as alone hindering Catholicism.

9. Let us then rejoice in the fulness of this Name. Let us use it as the Name of virtue against devils, bad thoughts, evil men, the world, dangers and frights. It is our banner. "


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