Thursday, February 10, 2005

From Parochial and Plain Sermons...
by Venerable John Henry Newman

Reflect upon our Saviour's plain declarations, "Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me." [Mark viii. 34.] "If any man come to Me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross and come after Me, he cannot be My disciple." [Luke xiv. 26, 27.] "If thy hand offend thee, cut it off ... if thy foot offend thee, cut it off ... if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: ... it is better for {66} thee to enter into life maimed ... halt ... with one eye than to be cast into hell." [Mark ix. 43-47.]

Now without attempting to explain perfectly such passages as these, which doubtless cannot be understood without a fulness of grace which is possessed by very few men, yet at least we learn thus much from them, that a rigorous self-denial is a chief duty, nay, that it may be considered the test whether we are Christ's disciples, whether we are living in a mere dream, which we mistake for Christian faith and obedience, or are really and truly awake, alive, living in the day, on our road heavenwards. The early Christians went through self-denials in their very profession of the Gospel; what are our self-denials, now that the profession of the Gospel is not a self-denial? In what sense do we fulil the words of Christ? have we any distinct notion what is meant by the words "taking up our cross?" in what way are we acting, in which we should not act, supposing the Bible and the Church were unknown to this country, and religion, as existing among us, was merely a fashion of this world? What are we doing, which we have reason to trust is done for Christ's sake who bought us?


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