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Saturday, 11 August 2012

Newman for our times....

I have four posts today quoting Newman, a prophet for our time. One is in awe of the man's intellect, considering his young age when he gave the Oxford Sermons, from which these quotations come....The first post below is a warning on abandoning reason and obedience to the Church. The second reminds us of the need for the life and discipline of the virtues. This third quotation illuminates a problem of the world of 2012. The last one today examines more of the Modernists heresies he describes. Take a look: Newman is relating the idea that superficial, and we could add, materialistic views of life, will not sustain a person in hard times.

I shall just point out three items in this section: one, the vast majority of modern people live at the superficial level, seeking temporary or superficial peace in their daily lives and only wanting "cheerfulness". Two, most people do not believe in serious, mortal, damning sin. All is forgiven, or worse, the frameworks for judging good and evil no longer exist. Three, there are many who no longer believe that doctrines effect their daily lives. These doctrines do cause us to live in the way we choose to live. He is, of course, referring to the heresies of modernism, among them indifferentism. eirenism, and relativism in all of these quotations.  Here is Newman:

But, fairly as this superficial view of human nature answers in peaceful times; speciously as it may argue, innocently as it may experimentalize, in the rare and short-lived intervals of a nation's tranquillity; yet, let persecution or tribulation arise, and forthwith its imbecility is discovered. It is but a theory; it cannot cope with difficulties; it imparts no strength or loftiness of mind; it gains no influence over others. It is at once shattered and crushed in the stern conflict of good and evil; disowned, or rather overlooked, by the combatants on either side, and vanishing, no one knows how or whither.
7. The opinions alluded to in the foregoing remarks, when assuming a definite doctrinal basis, will be found to centre in Socinianism or Theophilanthropism, the {104} name varying according as it admits or rejects the authority of Scripture. And the spirit of this system will be found to infect great numbers of men, who are unconscious of the origin and tendency of their opinions. The essential dogmas of Socinianism are such as these; that the rule of Divine government is one of benevolence, and nothing but benevolence; that evil is but remedial and temporary; that sin is of a venial nature; that repentance is a sufficient atonement for it; that the moral sense is substantially but an instinct of benevolence; and that doctrinal opinions do not influence our character or prospects, nor deserve our serious attention. On the other hand, sentiments of this character are evidently the animating principle of the false cheerfulness, and the ill-founded hope, and the blind charitableness, which I have already assigned to the man of the world.
8. In order to illustrate the untenableness of such propositions as have just been adduced, and hence to show, by way of instance, the shallowness and feebleness of the minds which maintain them, their real feebleness in all practical matters, plausibly or loudly as they may speak during the hour of tranquillity in which they display themselves, it may be useful to make some remarks on what appears to be the real judgment of God upon human sin, as far as it is discernible by the light of nature; not as if any thing new could be said on the subject, but in order to remind ourselves of truths which are peculiarly important in these times.

Newman warned against trusting in the world. His words demonstrate a great wisdom for youth as well as older ones today. Obviously, he understood the wiles of the evil one.

The palmary device of Satan is to address himself to the pride of our nature, and, by the promise of independence, to seduce us into sin. Those who have been brought up in ignorance of the polluting fashions of the world, too often feel a rising in their minds against the discipline and constraint kindly imposed upon them; and, not understanding that their ignorance is their glory, and that they cannot really enjoy both good and evil, they murmur that they are not allowed to essay what they do not wish to practise, or to choose for themselves in {126} matters where the very knowledge seems to them to give a superiority to the children of corruption. Thus the temptation of becoming as gods works as in the beginning, pride opening a door to lust; and then, intoxicated by their experience of evil, they think they possess real wisdom, and take a larger and more impartial view of the nature and destinies of man than religion teaches; and, while the customs of society restrain their avowals within the bounds of propriety, yet in their hearts they learn to believe that sin is a matter of course, not a serious evil, a failing in which all have share, indulgently to be spoken of, or rather, in the case of each individual, to be taken for granted, and passed over in silence; and believing this, they are not unwilling to discover or to fancy weaknesses in those who have the credit of being superior to the ordinary run of men, to insinuate the possibility of human passions influencing them, this or that of a more refined nature, when the grosser cannot be imputed, and, extenuating at the same time the guilt of the vicious, to reduce in this manner all men pretty much to a level. A more apposite instance of this state of soul cannot be required than is given us in the celebrated work of an historian of the last century, who, for his great abilities, and, on the other hand, his cold heart, impure mind, and scoffing spirit, may justly be accounted as, in this country at least, one of the masters of a new school of error, which seems not yet to have accomplished its destinies, and is framed more exactly after the received type of the author of evil, than the other chief anti-Christs who have, in these last times, occupied the scene of the world.

Here he is strongly against the modernists, especially false ecumenism, eirenism. 

And some there are who, keeping their faith in the main, give up the notion of its importance. Finding that men will not agree together on points of doctrine and discipline, and imagining that union must be effected on any terms, they consent to abandon articles of faith as the basis of Christian fellowship, and try to effect what they call a union of hearts, as a bond of fellowship among those who differ in their notions of the One God, One Lord, One Spirit, One baptism, and One body; forgetful of the express condemnation pronounced by our Saviour upon those who "believe not" the preaching of His servants [Mark xvi. 16.]; and that {130} he who denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father [1 John ii. 22.].

To be continued..