Thursday, August 19, 2004

On August 19, 1860
Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., preached a sermon, of which the following notes survive:

God the Stay of Eternity

1. INTROD.—The gospel says, 'What shall I do to inherit?' etc. Here this man, whatever his own character, asks an all-important question.

2. He implies the soul will live for ever.

3. What is eternity? Why, it is awful. I cannot call it good in itself. Some good and wise people have said so, but for me it is the most awful thought in the world.

Consider it. Time breaks to pieces everything; much more does eternity. Our soul can never die, but it can get older and older. Fancy this—older and older, colder and colder, so that the longer we lived the more miserable [we should become]. Therefore, when I look at eternity itself, it is a sort of living death to creatures such as man, and no good. Who can bear the weight of eternal years?

4. The scribe, then, does not ask for 'living for ever,' but for 'eternal life.' Life is something more than living; it is to live vigorously, to be always young, etc., etc. Many have no youth, as some years have no spring. It is therefore to be happy, and happier and happier as time goes on.

5. This being the case, it is plain also that nothing but what is infinite can sustain eternity. We read in romances of two persons determining to die, and die together, and care for nothing else, not even God—vain thought! We want something more than ourselves, something more than the creature. We must be associated then, and one with the Creator.

6. God then, the Almighty and the Infinite, is the only stay of eternity.

7. Now then we see the meaning of our Lord's answer to the scribe, of loving God, for He alone is eternal, and unless we are conformed to Him, we shall be miserable in eternity.

8. Let us learn to love. We know what it is on earth to love a person. Signs of love—liking the presence, speech, etc., of the loved person; taking up his opinions, etc., etc.


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