Wednesday, April 27, 2005

From Parochial and Plain Sermons
by Venerable John Henry Newman

A vine has many branches, and they are all nourished by the sap which circulates throughout. There may be dead branches, still they are upon one and the selfsame tree. Were they as numerous as the sound ones, were they a hundred times as many, they would not form a tree by themselves. Were all the branches dead, were the stock dead, then it would be a dead tree. But any how, we could never say there were two trees. Such is the Scripture account of the Church, a living body with branches, some dead, some living; as in the text by another figure: "In a great house there are vessels; some to honour, and some to dishonour." Can any account be plainer than this is? Why divide into two, when the only reason for so dividing, viz., the improbability that good and bad should be found together, is superseded, as irrelevant, by our Lord and His Apostles themselves? Very various things are said of the Church; sometimes it is spoken of as glorious and holy, sometimes as abounding in offences and sins. It is natural, perhaps, at first sight, to invent, in consequence, the hypothesis of two Churches, as the Jews have dreamed of two Messiahs; but, I say, our Saviour has implied that it is unnecessary, that these opposite descriptions of it are not really incompatible; and if so, what reason remains for doing violence to the sacred text?


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