Monday, March 30, 2020

This Morning: Newman on the "Profession without Hypocrisy"

As promised, this morning Anna Mitchell and I will examine St. John Henry Newman's "Profession without Hypocrisy"" from his Anglican Parochial and Plain Sermons on the Son Rise Morning Show at about 6:50 a.m. Central Daylight Savings Time / 7:50 a.m. Eastern Daylight Savings Time.

Please listen live here; the podcast will be archived here.

On Friday, I noted that we would focus on Newman's advice regarding how to pray without being hypocritical--particularly with the prayers of the Church. When he wrote and delivered this sermon on October 23, 1831, those liturgical, formal prayers would have been from the Book of Common Prayer and the Church of England. (It's interesting to note that Newman preached a sermon on November 6, 1831 with a similar title, "Profession without Ostentation.") Nevertheless, so you have the conclusion of the sermon with Newman's final exhortations to his congregation, which is what The Tears of Christ includes in this meditation, here are some excerpts.

Newman mentions the "wedding garment" as something we wear and aspire to be worthy to wear, making it part of ourselves:

It is true that we profess to be saints, to be guided by the highest principles, and to be ruled by the Spirit of God. We have long ago promised to believe and obey. It is also true that we cannot do these things aright; nay, even with God's help (such is our sinful weakness), still we fall short of our duty. Nevertheless we must not cease to profess. We must not put off from us the wedding garment which Christ gave us in baptism. We may still rejoice in Him without being hypocrites, that is, if we labour day by day to make that wedding garment our own; to fix it on us and so incorporate it with our very selves, that death, which strips us of all things, may be unable to tear it from us, though as yet it be in great measure but an outward garb, covering our own nakedness.

Then he rejoices that we don't have to justify ourselves as Christians because Jesus does that for us, and then mentions again the significance of the Sacrament of Baptism:

. . . I suppose there is nothing so distressing to a true Christian as to have to prove himself such to others; both as being conscious of his own numberless failings, and from his dislike of display. Now Christ has anticipated the difficulties of his modesty. He does not allow such an one to speak for himself; He speaks for him. He introduces each of us to his brethren, not as we are in ourselves, fit to be despised and rejected on account of "the temptations which are in our flesh," but "as messengers of God, even as Christ Jesus." It is our happiness that we need bring nothing in proof of our fellowship with Christians, besides our baptism. . . .

He warns us against making ourselves examples to others of what Christian is--not by practicing our faith for the sake of our faith but for the sake of the example we provide--instead of relying on God and grace to wear the wedding garment:

 "As many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ;" this is the Apostle's decision. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." The Church follows this rule, and bidding us keep quiet, speaks for us; robes us from head to foot in the garments of righteousness, and exhorts us to live henceforth to God. But the disputer of this world reverses this procedure; he strips off all our privileges, bids us renounce our dependence on the Mother of saints, tells us we must each be a Church to himself, and must show himself to the world to be by himself and in himself the elect of God, in order to prove his right to the privileges of a Christian. 


. . . And for ourselves, let us endeavour to enter more and more fully into the meaning of our own prayers and professions; let us humble ourselves for the very little we do, and the poor advance we make; let us avoid unnecessary display of religion; let us do our duty in that state of life to which God has called us. Thus proceeding, we shall, through God's grace, form within us the glorious mind of Christ. . . .

Image Credit (published under a FAL license): An etching by Jan Luyken illustrating Matthew 22:11-14 in the Bowyer Bible, Bolton, England.

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