Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Parting of Friends

On September 25, 1843, John Henry Newman preached his final sermon as an Anglican minister at St. Mary and St. Nicholas, the church he had built in Littlemore. He had resigned his University position and intended to retire to the College there in Littlemore with some other members of the Tractarian Movement.

The sermon's title is "The Parting of Friends." He took as his text "Man goes forth to his work and to his labour until the evening." It was the anniversary of the consecration of the church--I took the picture of the church last year on a tour of Newman's Littlemore. Newman gave examples of leave-taking in the Scripture: Jacob, Ishmael, Naomi, St. Paul.

Then he concluded:

And, O my brethren, O kind and affectionate hearts, O loving friends, should you know any one whose lot it has been, through writing or word of mouth, in some degree to help you thus to act; if he has ever told you what you knew about yourselves, or what you did not know; has read to you your wants or feelings, and comforted you by the very reading; has made you feel that there was a higher life than this daily one, and a brighter world than that you see; or encouraged you, or sobered you, or opened a way to the inquiring, or soothed the perplexed; if what he has said or done has ever made you take interest in him and fell well inclined towards him; remember such a one in time to come, though you hear him not, and pray for him, that in all things he may know God's will, and at all times he may be ready to fulfill it.

Newman remained at the College for more than two years after preaching this sermon, working on his Essay on the Development Christian Doctrine, praying, fasting, and discerning.

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