Sunday, March 06, 2005

From Parochial and Plain Sermons
by Venerable John Henry Newman

He among the sons of Jesse, whom Samuel thought to be the destined king of Israel, was of imposing countenance and stature; not like David, a youth, ruddy indeed, and handsome, but one whom the Philistines might despise. Samuel and Goliath, a prophet of God and a heathen giant, both judged by what met their eyes. Samuel, when he saw the manly form and face of Eliab, said, "Surely the Lord's anointed is before Him." And God answered him, "Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature, because I have refused him, for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." And Goliath, when "he looked about and saw David," "disdained him, for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance." And to him David answered for himself; "The Lord saveth not with sword and spear, for the battle is the Lord's ." [1 Sam. xvii. 42, 47.] Even then, as in the latter days, the weak were strong, and the strong weak; the first last, and the last first; the mighty cast down from their seat, and the humble and meek exalted.

And much more now, when the Most High has hid Himself beneath a servant's form, and after ascending into heaven, sent His Holy Ghost as our invisible Guide and Comforter, now, far more than before, do we require to be warned, not to judge by what we see, but by what God has said. When His word and His outward world are at variance in the information they convey to us, it is our bounden duty to trust the revealed word, and not the visible world. Not that sight is not His gift, but that He has demanded of us as Christians, as a sort of poor return for His love to us, that when these two informants, one natural, the other revealed, oppose each other, we should trust for a little while the latter,—for a little while, till this world of shadows passes away, and we find ourselves in that new world, in which there is no contradiction between sight and hearing, but absolute unity and harmony in all things, for He is the light of it. But till then, it is our very profession, as children of the kingdom, to walk by faith not by sight. And hence many warnings are given us in the New Testament, against our forming absolute judgments of men and things, from what we see; to "judge nothing before the time, till the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise of God." Again, St. Paul says, "Do we look on things after the outward appearance? if any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him of himself think this again, that as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's." And in like manner our Saviour, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." [1 Cor. iv. 5. 2 Cor. x. 7. John vii. 24.]


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