Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ye cannot halve the Gospel of God's grace

This is a fascinating poem of John Henry Newman with the most un-poetic title 'Liberalism'.. As an Anglican he travelled to Italy and whilst there fell seriously ill. His recovery lead him to the conclusion that he was spared by Divine Providence for some mission back in England. He believed that he had a role to fight against Liberalism (or the 'Anti-Dogmatic' principle) in the Church of England.
On his return home, he wrote the following verses in Palermo:

Ye cannot halve the Gospel of God's grace;
Men of presumptuous heart! I know you well.
Ye are of those who plan that we should dwell,
Each in his tranquil home and holy place;
Seeing the Word refines all natures rude,
And tames the stirrings of the multitude.

And ye have caught some echoes of its lore,
As heralded amid the joyous choirs;
Ye mark'd it spoke of peace, chastised desires,
Good-will and mercy,—and ye heard no more;
But, as for zeal and quick-eyed sanctity,
And the dread depths of grace, ye pass'd them by.

And so ye halve the Truth; for ye in heart,
At best, are doubters whether it be true,
The theme discarding, as unmeet for you,
Statesmen or Sages. O new-compass'd art
Of the ancient Foe!—but what, if it extends
O'er our own camp, and rules amid our friends?

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