We have made the commandments of God grievous to ourselves by hardening our hearts

November 1, 2022 • 3 min

#Doctrine #Exhortation #Mercy #Sin #WhatTheSaintsSay

From Parochial and Plain Sermons, in 8 volumes, in file "Parochial and Plain Sermons by St John Henry Newman Vol 1", page 109
By St. John Henry Newman

Let each of us (I say) reflect upon his own most gross and persevering neglect of God at various seasons of his past life.

How considerate He has been to us! How did He shield us from temptation! how did He open His will gradually upon us, as we might be able to bear it! how has He done all things well, so that the spiritual work might go on calmly, safely, surely! How did He lead us on, duty by duty, as if step by step upwards, by the easy rounds of that ladder whose top reaches to Heaven?

Yet how did we thrust ourselves into temptation! how did we refuse to come to Him that we might have life! how did we daringly sin against light!

And what was the consequence? that our work grew beyond our strength; or rather that our strength grew less as our duties increased; till at length we gave up obedience in despair.

And yet then He still tarried and was merciful unto us; He turned and looked upon us to bring us into repentance; and we for a while were moved. Yet, even then our wayward hearts could not keep up to their own resolves: letting go again the heat which Christ gave them, as if made of stone, and not of living flesh.

What could have been done more to His vineyard, that He hath not done in it? “O My people (He seems to say to us), what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? testify against Me. I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants; … what doth the Lord require of thee, but justice, mercy, and humbleness of mind?”

He hath showed us what is good. He has borne and carried us in His bosom, “lest at any time we should dash our foot against a stone.” He shed His Holy Spirit upon us that we might love Him. And “this Is the love of God, that we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not grievous.”

Why, then, have they been grievous to us? Why have we erred from His ways, and hardened our hearts from His fear? Why do we this day stand ashamed, yea, even confounded, because we bear the reproach of our youth?

Let us then turn to the Lord, while yet we may. Difficult it will be in proportion to the distance we have departed from Him. Since every one might have done more than he has done, every one has suffered losses he never can make up.

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