To make provision for future doubt, is to doubt at present – Part 2

This [the prior post] is my first remark, and now I go on to a second. You may easily conceive, my brethren, that they who are entering the Church, or at least those who have entered it, have more than faith; that they have some portion of Divine love also. They have heard in the Church of the charity of Him who died for them, and who has given them His Sacraments as the means of conveying the merits of His death to their souls, and they have felt more or less in those poor souls of theirs the beginnings of a responsive charity drawing them to Him.

Now, does it stand with a loving trust, better than with faith, for a man to anticipate the possibility of doubting or denying the great mercies in which he is rejoicing?

Take an instance; what would you think of a friend whom you loved, who could bargain that, in spite of his present trust in you, he might be allowed some day to doubt you? who, when a thought came into his mind, that you were playing a game with him, or that you were a knave, or a profligate, did not drive it from him with indignation, or laugh it away for its absurdity, but considered that he had an evident right to indulge it, nay, should be wanting in duty to himself, unless he did? Would you think that your friend trifled with truth, that he was unjust to his reason, that he was wanting in manliness, that he was hurting his mind if he shrank from the thought? or would you not call him cruel and miserable if he did not?

* * *

Well, pass on to a higher subject;—could a man be said to trust in God, and to love God, who was familiar with doubts whether there was a God at all, or who bargained that, just as often as he pleased, he might be at liberty to doubt whether God was good, or just or mighty; and who maintained that, unless he did this, he was but a poor slave, that his mind was in bondage, and could render no free acceptable service to his Maker; that the very worship which God approved was one attended with a caveat, on the worshipper’s part, that he did not promise to render it tomorrow; that he would not answer for himself that some argument might not come to light, which he had never heard before, which would make it a grave, moral duty in him to suspend his judgment and his devotion?

Why, I should say, my brethren, that that man was worshipping his own mind, his own dear self and not God; ….

The argument is the same, in its degree, when applied to the Church; she speaks to us as a messenger from God,—how can a man who feels this, who comes to her, who falls at her feet as such, make a reserve, that he may be allowed to doubt her at some future day? Let the world cry out, if it will, that his reason is in fetters; let it pronounce that he is a bigot, unless he reserves his right of doubting; but he knows full well himself that he would be an ingrate and a fool, if he did. Fetters, indeed! yes, “the cords of Adam,” the fetters of love, these are what bind him to the Holy Church; he is, with the Apostle, the slave of Christ, the Church’s Lord; united (never to part, as he trusts, while life lasts), to her Sacraments, to her Sacrifices, to her Saints, to the Blessed Mary her advocate, to Jesus, to God.

John Henry Cardinal Newman, essay entitled “Faith and Doubt” from Discourses to Mixed Congregations (paragraph breaks added).

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