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Born in 1801, baptized in the Church of England, Newman became a Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford in 1822, an Anglican clergyman in 1825 and Vicar of the Oxford University Church in 1828. The Anglican Newman was a pastor of souls, a University teacher, and a student of Christian history and theology. His studies were never purely theoretical. Informed by pastoral experience, they were above all shaped by his insight into the needs of the present.
All things change here below. I say it, O Lord; I believe it; and I shall feel it more and more the longer I live. Before your eyes, most awesome Lord, the whole future of my life lies bare. You know exactly what will befall me every year and every day until my last hour. And though I know not what you see concerning me, so much I know: that you read in my life perpetual change. Not a year will leave me as it found me, either within or without. I never shall remain any time in one state.
How many things are sure to happen to me, unexpected, sudden, hard to bear! I know them not. I know not how long I have to live. I am hurried on, whether I will it or not, through continual change. O my God, in what can I trust? There is nothing in which I dare trust; nay, if I trusted in anything of earth, I believe for that very reason it would be taken away from me. I know you would take it away, if you had love for me.
Everything short of you, O Lord, is changeable, but you endure. You are ever one and the same-ever the true God of man and unchangeably so. You are the rarest, most precious, the sole good; and withal you are the most lasting. The creature changes, the Creator never. The creature stops changing only when it rests in you. On you the angels look and are at peace; that is why they have perfect bliss. They never can lose their blessedness, for they never can lose you. They have no anxiety, no misgivings because they love the Creator; not any being of time and sense, but “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday and today, who is also for ever” (Hebrews 13:8).
My Lord, my only God, Deus meus et omnia, let me never go after vanities. Vanitas vanitatum et omnia vanitas (Ecclesiastes 1:2). All is vanity and shadow here below. Let me not give my heart to anything here. Let nothing allure me from you; oh, keep me wholly and entirely. Keep this most frail heart and this most weak head in your divine keeping. Draw me to you morning, noon, and night for consolation. Be my own bright light, to which I look, for guidance and for peace.
Let me love you, O my Lord Jesus, with a pure affection and a fervent affection! Let me love you with the fervor, only greater, with which men of this earth love beings of this earth. Let me have that tenderness and constancy in loving you which is so much praised among men, when the object is of the earth. Let me find and feel you to be my only joy, my only refuge, my only strength, my only comfort, my only hope, my only fear, my only love.
July 4, 2014