Tuesday, July 05, 2005

From Sermons Preached On Various Occassions
by Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O.

Surely I have set before you a character of the Church of this day remarkable enough to attach to her the prerogatives of that divinely favoured bark in which Peter rowed, and into which the Eternal Lord entered, on the lake of Genesareth. Her fortunes during eighteen centuries have more than answered to the instance of that miraculous protection which was manifested in the fisher's boat in Galilee. It is hard that I must say more, but not strange; not strange, my Brethren, for both our Saviour's own history and His express word prepare us to expect that what is in itself so miraculous would fail to subdue, nay, would harden, the hearts of those to whom it so forcibly appeals. There is, indeed, no argument so strong but the wilful ingenuity of man is able to evade or retort it; and what happens to us in this day happened to Him also, who is in all things our archetype and forerunner. There was a time when He wrought a miracle to convince the incredulous, but they had their ready explanation to destroy its cogency. "There was offered unto Him," says the Evangelist, "one possessed with a devil, both blind and dumb; and He healed him, so that he both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed, and said, Is this not the son of David? But the Pharisees hearing it, said: This man casteth not out devils but by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils." So said the Pharisees; and He of whom they spoke forewarned His disciples, that both He and His adversaries would have their respective representatives in after times, both in uttering and bearing a like blasphemy. "The disciple is not above his master," He said, "nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he is as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the good-man of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of His household!"

So it was, my Brethren, that our Saviour was not allowed to point to His miracles as His warrant, but was thought the worse of for them; and it cannot startle us that we too have to suffer the like in our day. The Sinless was called Beelzebub, much more His sinful servants. And what happened to Him then, is our protection as well as our warning now: for that must be a poor argument, which is available, not only against us, but against Him.


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