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Posted December 3, 2010

Book: Life’s Purpose: Wisdom from John Henry Newman
Pauline Books & Media. Boston, Mass. 2010. Pp. 86

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Does life have meaning? What’s the purpose of my life?

“In truth we are not called once only, but many times; all through our life Christ is calling us. He called us first in Baptism; but afterward also; whether we obey His voice or not, He graciously calls us still.” John Henry Newman

Drawing from both his sermons and writings, Life’s Purpose; Wisdom of John Newman lets us reflect with one of the truly great men of the nineteenth century on a problem that continues to perplex humanity today. Each of the volumes of the Classic Wisdom Collection provides time-tested spiritual guidance for living a Christian life.

An Excerpt from the Book:

When the angels appeared to the shepherds, it was a sudden appearance: “Suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly host.” How wonderful a sight! The night had before that seemed just like any other night; as the evening on which Jacob saw the vision seemed like any other evening. They were keeping watch over their sheep; they were watching the night as it passed. The stars moved on, it was midnight. They had no idea of such a thing when the angel appeared. Such are the power and virtue hidden in things which are seen, and at God’s will they are manifested. They were manifested for a moment to Jacob, for a moment to Elisha’s servant, for a moment to the shepherds. They will be manifested for ever when Christ comes at the Last Day “in the glory of His Father with the holy Angels.” This world will fade away and the other world will shine forth.

Let these be your thoughts, my brethren, especially in the spring season, when the whole face of nature is so rich and beautiful. Once only in the year, yet once, does the world which we see show forth its hidden powers, and in a manner manifest itself. Then the leaves come out, and the blossoms on the fruit trees, and flowers, and the grass and corn spring up. There is a sudden rush and burst outwardly of that hidden life which God has lodged in the material world. Well, that shows you, as by a sample, what it can do at God’s command, when He gives the word. This earth, which now buds forth in leaves and blossoms, will one day burst forth into a new world of light and glory, in which, we shall see saints and angels dwelling. Who would think, except from his experience of former springs all through his life, who could conceive two or three months before, that it was possible that the face of nature, which then seemed so lifeless, should become so splendid and varied? How different is a tree, how different is a prospect, when leaves are on it and off it! How unlikely it would seem, before the event, that the dry and naked branches should suddenly be clothed with what is so bright and so refreshing! Yet in God’s good time leaves come on the trees. The season may delay, but come it will at last. So it is with the coming of that Eternal Spring, for which all Christians are waiting. Come it will, though it delay; yet though it tarry, let us wait for it, “because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” Therefore we say day by day, “Thy kingdom come”; which means: O Lord, show Thyself; manifest Thyself, Thou that sittest between the cherubim, show Thyself; manifest Thyself, stir up Thy strength and come and help us. The earth that we see does not satisfy us; it is but a beginning; it is but a promise of something beyond it; even when it is gayest, which with all its blossoms on, and shows most touchingly what lies hid in it, yet it is not enough. We know much more lies hid in it than we see. A world of saints and angels, a glorious world, the palace of God, the mountain of the Lord of Hosts, the heavenly Jerusalem, the throne of God and Christ, all these wonders, everlasting, all-precious, mysterious, and incomprehensible, lie hid in what we see. What we see is the outward shell of an eternal kingdom; and on that kingdom we fix the eyes of our faith. Shine forth, O Lord, as when on Thy nativity Thine angels visited the shepherds; let Thy glory blossom forth as bloom and foliage on the trees; change with Thy mighty power this visible world into that diviner world, which as yet we see not; destroy what we see, that it may pass and be transformed into what we believe. Bright as is the sun, and the sky, and the clouds; green as are the leaves and the fields; sweet as is the singing of the birds; we know that they are not all, and we will not take up with a part for the whole. They proceed from a center of love and goodness, which is God Himself; but they are not His fullness; they speak of heaven, but they are not heaven; they are but as stray beams and dim reflections of His Image; they are but crumbs from the table.

Example of Table of Contents:

The invisible world

The calls of grace

Christian repentance


Miracles no remedy for unbelief

Divine calls

Christ manifested in remembrance

The providence of God