Advice to the Christian
John Henry Newman
Our duty lies in acts — acts of course of every kind, acts of the mind, as well as of the tongue, or of the hand; but anyhow, it lies mainly in acts; it does not directly lie in moods or feelings. He who aims at praying well, loving sincerely, disputing meekly, as the respective duties occur, is wise and religious; but he who aims vaguely and generally at being in a spiritual frame of mind, is entangled in a deceit of words, which gain a meaning only by being made mischievous (Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol, II).
The Christian has a deep, silent, hidden peace, which the world sees not — like some well in a retired and shady place, difficult of access. He is the greater part of his time by himself, and when he is in solitude, that is his real state. What he is when left to himself and to his God, that is his true life. He can bear himself; he can (as it were) joy in himself, for it is the grace of God within him, it is the presence of the Eternal Comforter, in which he joys. He can bear, he finds it pleasant, to be with himself at all times — `never less alone than when alone’ He can lay his head on his pillow at night, and own in God’s sight, with overflowing heart, that he wants nothing — that he is full and abounds’ — that God has been all things to him, and that nothing is not his which God could give him. More thankfulness, more holiness, more of heaven he needs indeed, but the thought that he can have more is not a thought of trouble, but of joy. It does not interfere with his peace to know that he may grow nearer God. Such is the Christian’s peace, when, with a single heart and the Cross in his eye, he addresses and commends himself to Him with whom the night is as clear as the day (Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol, V).
Let those who have had seasons of seriousness, lengthen them into a life; and let those who have made good resolves in Lent, remember them in Eastertide; and let those who have hitherto lived religiously, learn devotion; and let those who have lived in good conscience, learn to live by faith; and let those who have made a good profession, aim at consistency; and let those who take pleasure in religious worship, aim at inward sanctity; and let those who have knowledge, learn to love; and let those who meditate, forget not mortification (Sermons on Subjects of the Day).
Be quite sure that resolute, consistent obedience, though unattended with high transport and warm emotion, is far more acceptable to Him than all those passionate longings to live in His sight, which look more like religion to the uninstructed. At the very best these latter are but the graceful beginnings of obedience, graceful and becoming in children, but in grown spiritual men indecorous, as the sports of boyhood would seem in advanced years. Learn to live by faith, which is a cairn, deliberate, rational principle, full of peace and comfort (Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. I).
Excerpts from The Vision of John Henry Newman, compiled by John Van de Weyer and Pat Saunders, edited by Arthur Middleton.