Thoughts from the Early Church
Commentary by John Henry Newman
Repent, and believe the good news. (Mk 1:15)
At the time appointed Christ came forth from the Father and showed himself in this external world, first as its Creator, then as its teacher, the revealer of secrets, the mediator, the effluence of God’s glory, and the express image of his person.
Neither cloud nor image, emblem nor words, are interposed between the Son and his eternal Father. No language is needed between the Father and him, who is the very Word of the Father; no knowledge is imparted to him, who by his very nature and from eternity knows the Father and all that the Father knows.
Such are his own words, “No one knows the Son but the Father, neither does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Again he says, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father”; and he accounts for this when he tells us that he and the Father are one, and that he is in the bosom of the Father and so can disclose him to humankind, as he was still in heaven, even while he was on earth.
Accordingly the blessed apostle draws a contrast between Moses and Christ to our comfort. “The Law,” he says, “was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” In him God is fully and truly seen, so that he is absolutely the way, and the truth, and the life. All our duties are summed up for us in the message he brings us.
Those who look towards him for teaching, who worship and obey him, will by degrees see “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in his face, and will be changed into the same image from glory to glory.”
And thus it happens that people of the lowest class and the humblest education may know fully the ways and works of God; fully, that is, as human beings can know them; far better and more truly than the most sagacious of this world from whom the gospel is hidden.
Religion has a store of wonderful secrets which no one can communicate to another, and which are most pleasant and delightful to know. “Call on me,” says God by the prophet, “and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things of which you have no knowledge.” This is no mere idle boast, but a fact which all who seek God will find to be true, though they cannot perhaps clearly express their meaning.
Strange truths about ourselves, about God, about our duty, about the world, about heaven and hell, new modes of viewing things, discoveries which cannot be put into words, marvelous prospects and thoughts half understood, deep convictions inspiring joy and peace, these are a part of the revelation which Christ, the Son of God, brings to those who obey him.
Moses had much toil to gain from the great God, some scattered rays of the truth, and that for his personal comfort, not for all Israel; but Christ has brought from his Father for all of us the full and perfect way of life.
Thus he brings grace as well as truth, a most surprising miracle of mercy.
Parochial and Plain Sermons, 7, 124-6 - modernized
Newman, John Henry (1801-90) was born in London and brought up in the Church of England. He went up to Trinity College, Oxford, in 1817, became a Fellow of Oriel five years later, was ordained deacon in 1824 and appointed Vicar of Saint Mary’s, Oxford, in 1832. The impact of his sermons was tremendous. He was the leading spirit in the Tractarian Movement (1833-41) and the condemnation of Tract 90 led to his resignation from Saint Mary’s in 1843.
Two years later he was received into the Catholic Church. He was ordained in Rome and founded a house of Oratorians in Birmingham. Newman’s Essay on the Development Christian Doctrine throws light on his withdrawal of previous objections to Roman Catholicism; his Apologia reveals the deepest motives underlying his outward attitudes, and the Grammar of Assent clarifies the subjective content of commitment to faith. In 1879 he was made a cardinal and he died at Edgbaston in 1890.
**From Saint Louis University