Friday, November 19, 2004

From Sermons Bearing on Subjects of the Day
by Venerable John Henry Newman:

Many a man, and especially many a woman, may abandon themselves to the real delight, as it will prove, of passing hours in repeating the Psalms, or in saying Litanies and Hymns, and in frequenting those Cathedrals and Churches where the old Catholic ideas are especially impressed upon their minds; and they will find, in the words of Scripture, that our Lord's "Name is like ointment poured forth," [Cant. i. 3.] and His "fruit is sweet to their taste." [Cant. ii. 3.] Yet like the Prophet's roll, though ''in the mouth sweet as honey''—nay, almost literally so in a strange way—yet as soon as they have eaten it, it will be bitter, if they have forgotten that "before honour is humility," sowing in tears before reaping in joy, pain before pleasure, duty before privilege. Nothing lasts, nothing keeps incorrupt and pure, which comes of mere feeling; feelings die like spring-flowers, and are fit only to be cast into the oven. Persons thus circumstanced will find their religion fail them in time; a revulsion of mind will ensue. They will feel a violent distaste for what pleased them before, a sickness and weariness of mind; or even an enmity towards it; or a great disappointment; or a confusion and perplexity and despondence. They have learned to think religion easier than it is, themselves better than they are; they have drunk their good wine instead of keeping it; and this is the consequence. I need not enter, however, into the full consequences of this incaution; they are very various and sometimes very awful. I am but calling attention to the fact. And then the persons in question will be ashamed or afraid to confide to others what their state is, or will not have the opportunity; and all this the more, because affectionate, sensitive, delicate, retired persons are perhaps more open than others to the danger I have been describing.

The most awful consequences of this untrue kind of devotion, which would have all the glories of the Gospel without its austerities, of course are those into which the dreadful heretics fell who are alluded to in the text; and of which it is well not to speak.


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