Monday, November 20, 2006

Venerable John Henry Newman Quotes

The Immaculate Conception

    Does not the objector consider that Eve was created, or born, without original sin? Why does not this shock him? Would he have been inclined to worship Eve in that first estate of hers? Why, then, Mary? Does he not believe that St. John the Baptist had the grace of God - i.e., was regenerated, even before his birth? What do we believe of Mary, but that grace was given her at a still earlier period? All we say is, that grace was given her from the first moment of her existence. We do not say that she did not owe her salvation to the death of her Son. Just the contrary, we say that she, of all mere children of Adam, is in the truest sense the fruit and purchase of His Passion. He has done for her more than for anyone else. To others He gives grace and regeneration at a point in their earthly existence; to her, from the very beginning.

    We do not make her nature different from others . . . certainly she would have been a frail being, like Eve, without the grace of God . . . It was not her nature which secured her perseverance, but the excess of grace which hindered Nature acting as Nature ever will act. There is no difference in kind between her and us, though an inconceivable difference of degree. She and we are both simply saved by the grace of Christ.

    Many, many doctrines are far harder than the Immaculate Conception. The doctrine of Original Sin is indefinitely harder. Mary just has not this difficulty. It is no difficulty to believe that a soul is united to the flesh without original sin; the great mystery is that any, that millions on millions, are born with it. Our teaching about Mary has just one difficulty less than our teaching about the state of mankind generally.

    {Meditations and Devotions, Harrison, NY: Roman Catholic Books, 1893, pp. 151-152,155-156}

The Limitations of Logic
    Logic then does not really prove; it enables us to join issue with others; it suggests ideas; it opens views; it maps out for us the lines of thought; it verifies negatively; it determines when differences of opinions are hopeless; and when and how far conclusions are probable; but for genuine proof in concrete matter we require an organon more delicate, versatile, and elastic than verbal argumentation.

    {A Grammar of Assent, Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image, 1955 (orig. 1870), p. 217}

Faith and Obedience
    Faith has a certain prerogative of dignity under the Gospel. At the same time we must never forget that the more usual mode of doctrine both with Christ and His Apostles is to refer our acceptance to obedience to the commandments, not to faith . . . There are multitudes who would avow with confidence and exultation that they put obedience only in the second place in their religious scheme, as if it were rather a necessary consequence of faith than requiring a direct attention for its own sake; a something subordinate to it, rather than connatural and contemporaneous with it . . .

    {Sermon: "Faith and Obedience," 1836. From Parochial and Plain Sermons, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987, p. 536 (orig. 8 vols., 1834-1843) }

Purgatory
    In one sense, all Christians die with their work unfinished. Let them have chastened themselves all their lives long, and lived in faith and obedience, yet still there is much in them unsubdued, - much pride, much ignorance, much unrepented, unknown sin, much inconsistency, much irregularity in prayer, much lightness and frivolity of thought. Who can tell, then, but, in God's mercy, the time of waiting between death and Christ's coming, may be profitable to those who have been His true servants here, as a time of maturing that fruit of grace, but partly formed in them in this life - a school-time of contemplation, as this world is a discipline of active service? Such, surely, is the force of the Apostle's words, that He that hath begun a good work in us, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ, until, not at, not stopping it with death, but carrying it on to the Resurrection. And this, which will be accorded to all Saints, will be profitable to each in proportion to the degree of holiness in which he dies . . .

    It will be found, on the whole, that death is not the object put forward in Scripture for hope to rest upon, but the coming of Christ, as if the interval between death and His coming was by no means to be omitted in the process of our preparation for heaven.

    {Sermon: "The Intermediate State," 1836. From Parochial and Plain Sermons, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987, pp. 715-716 (orig. 8 vols., 1834-1843) }

Transubstantiation
    People say that the doctrine of Transubstantiation is difficult to believe . . . It is difficult, impossible to imagine, I grant - but how is it difficult to believe? . . . For myself, I cannot indeed prove it, I cannot tell how it is; but I say, "Why should it not be? What's to hinder it? What do I know of substance or matter? Just as much as the greatest philosophers, and that is nothing at all;" . . . And, in like manner: . . . the doctrine of the Trinity in Unity. What do I know of the Essence of the Divine Being? I know that my abstract idea of three is simply incompatible with my idea of one; but when I come to the question of concrete fact, I have no means of proving that there is not a sense in which one and three can equally be predicated of the Incommunicable God.

    {Apologia pro vita Sua (autobiography), Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image, 1956 (orig. 1864), p. 318; part 7: "General Answer to Mr. Kingsley"}

Development of Doctrine
    If it be true that the principles of the later Church are the same as those of the earlier, then . . . the later in reality agrees more than it differs with the earlier, for principles are responsible for doctrines. Hence they who assert that the modern Roman system is the corruption of primitive theology are forced to discover some difference of principle . . . for instance, that the right of private judgment was secured to the early Church and has been lost to the later, or again, that the later Church rationalizes and the earlier went by faith . . . As to Protestantism it is plain in how many ways it has reversed the principles of Catholic theology.

    {An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (orig. 1845), 1878 edition published by Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 1989, pp. 353-354. Part 2, ch. 7, sec. 6, nos. 1, 3}

Church Fathers
    The Fathers are primarily to be considered as witnesses, not as authorities. They are witnesses of an existing state of things, and their treatises are, as it were, histories, - teaching us, in the first instance, matters of fact, not of opinion. Whatever they themselves might be, whether deeply or poorly taught in Christian faith and love, they speak, not their own thoughts, but the received views of their respective ages.

    {Primitive Christianity, 1833-1836, in Essays and Sketches, ed. Charles Frederick Harrold, London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1948, p. 126}

Mary's Assumption
    If Eve, the beautiful daughter of God, never would have become dust and ashes unless she had sinned, shall we not say that Mary, having never sinned, retained the gift which Eve by sinning lost? What had Mary done to forfeit the privilege given to our first parents in the beginning? . . . Therefore we believe that, though she died for a short hour, as did our Lord Himself, yet, like Him, and by His Almighty power, she was raised again from the grave.

    {Meditations and Devotions, Harrison, NY: Roman Catholic Books, 1893, p. 143}

The Laity and Apostolic Tradition
    The body of the faithful is one of the witnesses to the fact of the tradition of revealed doctrine, . . . their consensus through Christendom is the voice of the Infallible Church . . . in that very day [the fourth century, referring to the Arian heresy] the divine tradition committed to the infallible Church was proclaimed and maintained far more by the faithful than by the Episcopate . . . the body of the episcopate was unfaithful to its commission, while the body of the laity was faithful to its baptism.

    {On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine, 1859, ed. John Coulson, London: 1961, pp. 63, 75-76}

The End of a University Education
    The true and adequate end of intellectual training and of a university is not learning or aquirement, but rather is thought or reason exercised upon knowledge, or what may be called philosophy.

    {The Idea of a University, Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image, 1959 (orig. 1852), p. 160}

Gospel and Law
    The glory of the Gospel is, not that it destroys the law, but that it makes it cease to be a bondage; not that it gives us freedom from it, but in it; and the notion of the Gospel which I have been describing as cold and narrow is, not that of supposing Christianity a law, but a supposing it to be scarcely more than a law, and thus leaving us where it found us . . . They have not merely the promise of grace; they have its presence. They have not merely the conditional prospect of a reward; for a blessing, nay, unspeakable, fathomless, illimitable, infinite, eternal blessings are poured into their very hearts, even as a first step and an earnest from God our Saviour, of what He will do for those who love Him. They "are passed from death unto life," and are the children of God and heirs of heaven.

    {Sermon: "The State of Grace," 1838. From Parochial and Plain Sermons, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987, pp. 816-817 (orig. 8 vols., 1834-1843) }

Christianity and Natural Science
    Theology begins, as its name denotes, not with any sensible facts, phenomena, or results, not with nature at all, but with the Author of nature - with the one invisible, unapproachable Cause and Source of all things. It begins at the other end of knowledge, and is occupied, not with the finite, but the Infinite. It unfolds and systematizes what He Himself has told us of Himself; of His nature, His attributes, His will, and His acts. As far as it approaches towards Physics, it takes just the counterpart of the questions which occupy the physical philosopher. He contemplates facts before him; the theologian gives the reasons of those facts. The physicist treats of efficient causes; the theologian of final. The physicist tells us of laws; the theologian of the Author, Maintainer, and Controller of them; of their scope, of their suspension, if so be; of their beginning and their end. This is how the two schools stand related to each other, at that point where they approach the nearest; but for the most part they are absolutely divergent. What physical science is engaged in I have already said; as to theology, it contemplates the world, not of matter, but of mind; the Supreme Intelligence; souls and their destiny; conscience and duty; the past, present, and future dealings of the Creator with the creature.

    So far, then, as these remarks have gone, theology and physics cannot touch each other, have no intercommunion, have no ground of difference or agreement, of jealousy or of sympathy.

    {The Idea of a University, Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image, 1959 (orig. 1852), p. 395}

God's Will and Our Calling
    Everyone who breathes, high and low, educated and ignorant, young and old, man and woman, has a mission, has a work. We are not sent into this world for nothing; we are not born at random; we are not here, that we may go to bed at night, and get up in the morning, toil for our bread, eat and drink, laugh and joke, sin when we have a mind, and reform when we are tired of sinning, rear a family and die. God sees every one of us; He creates every soul, . . . for a purpose. He needs, He deigns to need, every one of us. He has an end for each of us; we are all equal in His sight, and we are placed in our different ranks and stations, not to get what we can out of them for ourselves, but to labor in them for Him. As Christ has His work, we too have ours; as He rejoiced to do His work, we must rejoice in ours also.

    {Sermon: "God's Will the End of Life," from Discourses Addressed to Mixed Congregations, 1849, in Daniel M. O'Connell, Favorite Newman Sermons, NY: The America Press, 2nd ed., 1940, pp. 177-178}

Church, Dogma, and Certainty
    There is but one rule of faith for all; and it would be a greater difficulty to allow of an uncertain rule of faith, than (if that was the alternative, as it is not), to impose upon uneducated minds a profession which they cannot understand. But it is not the necessary result of unity of profession, nor is it the fact, that the Church imposes dogmatic statements on the interior assent of those who cannot apprehend them. The difficulty is removed by the dogma of the Church's infallibility, and of the consequent duty of "implicit faith" in her word. The "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church" is an article of the Creed, and an article, which, inclusive of her infallibility, all men, high and low, can easily master and accept with a real and operative assent. It stands in the place of all abstruse propositions in a Catholic's mind, for to believe in her word is virtually to believe in them all. Even what he cannot understand, at least he can believe to be true; and he believes it to be true because he believes in the Church.
    {A Grammar of Assent, Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image, 1955 (orig. 1870), p. 129}
The Fruit of 16th-Century English Martyrs
    Can we religiously suppose that the blood of our martyrs, three centuries ago and since, shall never receive its recompense? Those priests, secular and regular, did they suffer for no end? or rather, for an end which is not yet accomplished? The long imprisonment, the fetid dungeon, the weary suspense, the tyrannous trial, the barbarous sentence, the savage execution, the rack, the gibbet, the knife, the cauldron, the numberless tortures of those holy victims, O my God, are they to have no reward? Are Thy martyrs to cry from under Thine altar for their loving vengeance on this guilty people, and to cry in vain? Shall they lose life, and not gain a better life for the children of those who persecuted them? Is this Thy way, O my God, righteous and true? Is it according to Thy promise, O King of saints, if I may dare talk to Thee of justice? Did not Thou Thyself pray for Thine enemies upon the cross, and convert them? Did not Thy first Martyr win Thy great Apostle, then a persecutor, by his loving prayer? And in that day of trial and desolation for England, when hearts were pierced through and through with Mary's woe, at the crucifixion of Thy body mystical, was not every tear that flowed, and every drop of blood that was shed, the seeds of a future harvest, when they who sowed in sorrow were to reap in joy?

    {Sermon: "The Second Spring," delivered 13 July 1852, from Sermons Preached on Various Occasions, 1857, in A Newman Treasury, ed. Charles Frederick Harrold, London: Longmans Green and Co., 1943, p. 220}

Intercession of Saints and Angels
    One thing alone I know - that according to our need, so will be our strength. One thing I am sure of, that the more the enemy rages against us, so much the more will the Saints in Heaven plead for us; the more fearful are our trials from the world, the more present to us will be our Mother Mary, and our good Patrons, and Angel Guardians; the more malicious are the devices of men against us, the louder cry of supplication will ascend from the bosom of the whole Church to God for us. We shall not be left orphans; we shall have within us the strength of the Paraclete, promised to the Church and to every member of it.

    {Sermon: "The Second Spring," delivered 13 July 1852, from Sermons Preached on Various Occasions, 1857, in A Newman Treasury, ed. Charles Frederick Harrold, London: Longmans Green and Co., 1943, p. 221}

The Protestant "Bible Alone" View and Church History
    We [Protestants] uphold the pure unmutilated Scripture; the Bible, and the Bible only, is the religion of Protestants; the Bible and our own sense of the Bible. We claim a sort of parliamentary privilege to interpret laws in our own way, and not to suffer an appeal to any court beyond ourselves. We know, and we view it with consternation, that all Antiquity runs counter to our interpretation; and therefore, alas, the Church was corrupt from very early times indeed. But mind, we hold all this in a truly Catholic spirit, not in bigotry. We allow in others the right of private judgment, and confess that we, as others, are fallible men. We confess facts are against us; we do but claim the liberty of theorizing in spite of them. Far be it from us to say that we are certainly right; we only say that the whole early Church was certainly wrong. We do not impose our belief on any one; we only say that those who take the contrary side are Papists, firebrands, persecutors, madmen, zealots, bigots, and an insult to the 19th century.

    {Historical Sketches, London: 1872 (this excerpt written in 1839), vol. 1, pp. 420-421. From John Henry Newman: A Biography, by Ian Ker, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988, p. 190}

Scriptural Proof Texts
    The more arguments there are for a certain doctrine found in Scripture, the more objections will be found against it . . . The arguments which are used to prove that the Church system is not in Scripture, may as cogently be used to prove that no system is in Scripture. If silence in Scripture, or apparent contariety, is an argument against the Church system, it is an argument against system altogether. No system is on the surface of Scripture; none, but has at times to account for the silence or the apparent opposition of Scripture as to particular portions of it . . . Though there really is a true creed or system in Scripture, still it is not on the surface of Scripture, but is found latent and implicit within it."

    {Discussions and Arguments, London: 1872 (this excerpt written in 1838), pp. 125-127. From John Henry Newman: A Biography, by Ian Ker, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988, p. 160}

Religious Liberalism
    For thirty, forty, fifty years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism in religion. Never did Holy Church need champions against it more sorely than now when, alas! it is an error overspreading, as a snare, the whole earth . . . Liberalism in religion is the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another . . . It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion, as true. It teaches that all are to be tolerated, for all are matters of opinion. Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous; and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy . . . Since then, religion is so personal a peculiarity and so private a possession, we must of necessity ignore it in the intercourse of man with man . . . Religion is in no sense the bond of society . . . Instead of the Church's authority and teaching, they would substitute first of all a universal and a thoroughly secular education . . . As to Religion, it is a private luxury, which a man may have if he will; but which of course he must pay for, and which he must not obtrude upon others, or indulge in to their annoyance.

    {Biglietto speech, upon becoming a Cardinal in 1879. From John Henry Newman: A Biography, by Ian Ker, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988, pp. 720-721; also excerpts from Newman Today, ed. Stanley L. Jaki, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1989, from chapter "Newman and Liberalism," by Marvin R. O'Connell, pp. 88-89}

Compiled by Dave Armstrong in 1997.

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