Friday, July 02, 2004

On July 2, 1871
Venerable John Henry Newman,C.O.,preached a sermon, of which the following notes survive. It was apparently preached in support of the refurbishing of a church, at the request of the pastor.

The Visible Temple

'Whether you eat, or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God,' 1 Cor. x. 31.

1. What do these words mean? What do they enjoin upon us? {210}

2. We have our duty towards God, our neighbour, and ourselves. Now we may in a certain way fulfil these duties without doing them to God's glory.

3. E.g. we may do our duty to God from mere fear, or from habit, or from human respect; from expedience, e.g. going to Communion once a year, saying prayers, keeping from particular sins—being respectable—this right, but not enough. To our neighbour from pity, from benevolence, from family affections—this too, good, but not enough. And so to ourselves. We may be virtuous, and proud or self-conceited. That is, we may do things good, and in a certain sense be good in doing them, yet not to the glory of God, i.e. because not from love. This is one thing, then, that is meant by the text.

4. Then again, what is meant by doing all things? We have only rare opportunities of doing our duty. How can we eat and drink to [the glory of God]?

5. (1) Eating and drinking. (2) Use of the tongue—bad conversation. (3) Reading—curiosity. (4) Amusements in kind and in reason . (5) Work—idleness, justice. (6) Sickness. (7) Punishments and penances.

6. Thus the whole day—'Pray without ceasing'—Matt. v. 16, Phil. iv. 8 .

And so especially the worship of God. God has told us to pray. Now let us apply this to the service of God. To pray together, and publicly. This implies, of course, rites of religion, and buildings to perform them in. How can these be done to God's glory? Now, I can understand men saying, 'No religious rites, no common worship; religion is private and personal.' But I cannot understand [them] saying, 'It is common and public, it has rites, it has houses,' and not to bring those houses under the commandment of glorifying God, being edifying, etc.

7. Now how do we glorify God in religious houses or churches? In making them devotional. No matter what architecture, etc., devotional is the end, towards God and towards men.

8. And costly ('of that which cost me nothing,' etc.) as a means of expressing devotion—Aggeus i., Isa. lx. [13], Apoc. xxi. . Hence David, 1 Par. xvii.—Ps. cxxxi. (memento Domine, David); 1 Par. xxix .—[his] zeal for the house of God; his singers, his psalms—i Par. xxv . This made him according to His own heart [1 Kings xiii. 14].

9. Now you know what this tends to. Why is it that I come before you today? It is because I felt a profound appreciation of the work in which your priest was engaged, and a true sympathy in his exertions. I recognised in him a zeal for the honour of God's house such as that of David, whose spirit was troubled that his God had no abode fit for Him. I knew that for years and years his spirit chafed within him that he could not perfect in this place that idea of solemnity and beautifulness in the visible temple which he had in his mind. Twenty years and more, to my knowledge, has this idea occupied his mind. Then, too, he honoured me by asking me to take here some part in promoting his work, which he has committed to me now. Then he did a part—and now, by his persevering zeal, and the munificence of pious men, he has been able to do more; and he urges you, through me, to take part in, and to complete his service of zeal and love. And in the next place he calls [you] to a religious act in a religious way. He appeals to you on a Sunday, not on Monday, Tuesday, etc. He has taken the legitimate ecclesiastical means of asking for your contributions, which is possible on a Sunday. He does not take means of raising money which are not possible on a Sunday; he does a sacred work on a sacred day.

[Further], his object has special claims from the circumstances of this church. It is the mother church of Birmingham. It is dedicated to St. Peter. In subscribing to it you are testifying your loyalty to the Holy See in its troubles. Lastly, on the feast of the Visitation, when all Nature rejoices and Mary sings the Magnificat—2 Cor. viii. 7.


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