John Henry Newman

English cleric, cardinal and saint (1801-1890)

Saint John Henry Cardinal Newman (21 February 180111 August 1890) was an English convert to Catholicism, later made a cardinal.

John Henry Cardinal Newman


  • There is in stillness oft a magic power
    To calm the breast, when struggling passions lower;
    Touch'd by its influence, in the soul arise
    Diviner feelings, kindred with the skies.
  • Sin can read sin, but dimly scans high grace.
  • Christian! hence learn to do thy part,
    And leave the rest to Heaven.
  • Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
    Lead Thou me on!
    The night is dark, and I am far from home—
    Lead Thou me on!
    Keep Thou my feet: I do not ask to see
    The distant scene,—one step enough for me.
  • And with the morn those angel faces smile
    Which I have loved long since and lost awhile.
  • The more I read of Athanasius, Theodoret, etc, the more I see that the ancients did make the Scriptures the basis of their belief. The only question is, would they have done so in another point besides the θεολογία (theology), etc, which happened in the early ages to be in discussion? I incline to say the Creed is the faith necessary to salvation, as well as to Church communion, and to maintain that Scripture, according to the Fathers, is the authentic record and document of this faith.
    It surely is reasonable that 'necessary to salvation' should apply to the Baptismal Creed: 'In the name of,' etc (vid. He who believeth etc.). Now the Apostles' Creed is nothing but this; for the Holy Catholic Church, etc [in it] are but the medium through which God comes to us. Now this θεολογία, I say, the Fathers do certainly rest on Scripture, as upon two tables of stone. I am surprised more and more to see how entirely they fall into Hawkins’s theory even in set words, that Scripture proves and the Church teaches.[1]
    I believe it would be extremely difficult to show that tradition is ever considered by them (in matters of faith) more than interpretative of Scripture. It seems that when a heresy rose they said at once ‘That is not according to the Church's teaching,’ i.e. they decided it by the praejudicium [N.B. prescription] of authority.
    Again, when they met together in council, they brought the witness of tradition as a matter of fact, but when they discussed the matter in council, cleared their views, etc., proved their power, they always went to Scripture alone. They never said 'It must be so and so, because St. Cyrian says this, St. Clement explains in his third book of the "Paedagogue," etc.' and with reason; for the Fathers are a witness only as one voice, not in individual instances, or, much less, isolated passages, but every word of Scripture is inspired and available.
    • To Richard Hurrell Froude, August 23, 1835.
    • Letters and Correspondence of John Henry Newman During His Life in the English Church, 1890, Anne Mozley, ed., Longmans’s Green & Co., London, New York, Volume 2, p. 113. [2]
  • Surely, there is at this day a confederacy of evil, marshalling its hosts from all parts of the world, organizing itself, taking its measures, enclosing the Church of CHRIST as in a net, and preparing the way for a general apostasy from it. Whether this very apostasy is to give birth to Antichrist, or whether he is still to be delayed, we cannot know; but at any rate this apostasy, and all its tokens, and instruments, are of the Evil One and savour of death. Far be it from any of us to be of those simple ones, who are taken in that snare which is circling around us! Far be it from us to be seduced with the fair promises in which Satan is sure to hide his poison! Do you think he is so unskilful in his craft, as to ask you openly and plainly to join him in his warfare against the Truth? No; he offers you baits to tempt you. He promises you civil liberty; he promises you equality; he promises you trade and wealth; he promises you a remission of taxes; he promises you reform. This is the way in which he conceals from you the kind of work to which he is putting you; he tempts you to rail against your rulers and superiors; he does so himself, and induces you to imitate him; or he promises you illumination, he offers you knowledge, science, philosophy, enlargement of mind. He scoffs at times gone by; he scoffs at every institution which reveres them. He prompts you what to say, and then listens to you, and praises you, and encourages you. He bids you mount aloft. He shows you how to become as gods. Then he laughs and jokes with you, and gets intimate with you; he takes your hand, and gets his fingers between yours, and grasps them, and then you are his.
  • We can believe what we choose. We are answerable for what we choose to believe.
    • Letter to Mrs William Froude, 27 June 1848.
  • So living Nature, not dull Art,
    Shall plan my ways and rule my heart.
  • Certainly, if I am obliged to bring religion into after-dinner toasts (which indeed does not quite seem the thing) I shall drink,—to the Pope, if you please,—still, to Conscience first, and to the Pope afterwards.
    • A Letter Addressed to His Grace the Duke of Norfolk (London: B M Pickering, 1875), Part V, p. 66
  • Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem!
    • Translation: From shadows and symbols into the truth!
    • His own epitaph at Edgbaston

Parochial and Plain Sermons (1834–1842)

Parochial and Plain Sermons (London: Rivingtons, 1868), 8 vol. The first six volumes are reprinted from the six volumes of Parochial Sermons (1834–1842); the seventh and eighth formed the fifth volume of Plain Sermons, by Contributors to Tracts for the Times (1843), which was Newman's contribution to the series.
  • Do not think I am speaking of one or two men, when I speak of the scandal which a Christian's inconsistency brings upon his cause. The Christian world, so called, what is it practically, but a witness for Satan rather than a witness for Christ? Rightly understood, doubtless the very disobedience of Christians witnesses for Him who will overcome whenever He is judged. But is there any antecedent prejudice against religion so great as that which is occasioned by the lives of its professors? Let us ever remember, that all who follow God with but a half heart, strengthen the hands of His enemies, give cause of exultation to wicked men, perplex inquirers after truth, and bring reproach upon their Saviour's name.
    • Vol. 1, Sermon 10: Profession without Practice, p. 136
  • If Christ has constituted one Holy Society (which He has done); if His Apostles have set it in order (which they did), and have expressly bidden us (as they have in Scripture) not to undo what they have begun; and if (in matter of fact) their work so set in order and so blessed is among us to this day (as it is), and we partakers of it, it were a traitor's act in us to abandon it, an unthankful slight on those who have preserved it for so many ages, a cruel disregard of those who are to come after us, nay of those now alive who are external to it and might otherwise be brought into it. We must transmit as we have received. We did not make the Church, we may not unmake it.
    • Vol. 3, Sermon 14: Submission to Church Authority, p. 202
  • The Apostles lived eighteen hundred years since; and as far as the Christian looks back, so far can he afford to look forward. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, from first to last.
    • Vol. 3, Sermon 17: The Visible Church an Encouragement to Faith, p. 250
  • Reason is God's gift; but so are the passions.
    • Vol. 5, Sermon 8: The State of Innocence, p. 114
  • Now what is it that moves our very hearts and sickens us so much at cruelty shown to poor brutes? I suppose this first, that they have done no harm; next that they have no power whatever of resistance; it is the cowardice and tyranny of which they are the victims which makes their sufferings so especially touching. For instance, if they were dangerous animals, take the case of wild beasts at large, able not only to defend themselves, but even to attack us; much as we might dislike to hear of their wounds and agony, yet our feelings would be of a very different kind; but there is something so very dreadful, so satanic, in tormenting those who never have harmed us, who cannot defend themselves, who are utterly in our power, who have weapons neither of offence nor defence, that none but very hardened persons can endure the thought of it.
    • Vol. 7, Sermon 10: The Crucifixion, p. 137
    • Part of this text is widely quoted with the addition of the sentence, "Cruelty to animals is as if man did not love God", which is not present in the sermon.
  • Again, are not the principles of unbelief certain to dissolve human society? and is not this plain fact, candidly considered, enough to show that unbelief cannot be a right condition of our nature? for who can believe that we were intended to live in anarchy? If we have no good reasons for believing, at least we have no good reasons for disbelieving. If you ask why we are Christians, we ask in turn, why should we not be Christians? It will be enough to remain where we are, till you do what you never can do—prove to us for certain that the Gospel is not Divine.
    • Vol. 8, Sermon 8: Inward Witness to the Gospel, p. 112

Sermons Bearing on Subjects of the Day (1843)

Sermons Bearing on Subjects of the Day (London: J. G. F. & G. Rivington, 1843)
  • Such is the rule of our warfare. We advance by yielding; we rise by falling; we conquer by suffering; we persuade by silence; we become rich by bountifulness; we inherit the earth through meekness; we gain comfort through mourning; we earn glory by penitence and prayer. Heaven and earth shall sooner fall than this rule be reversed; it is the law of Christ's kingdom, and nothing can reverse it but sin.
    • Sermon XII: Joshua a Type of Christ and His followers, p. 184.
  • May He support us all the day long, till the shades lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done! Then in His mercy may He give us safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last!
  • O my brethren, O kind and affectionate hearts, O loving friends, should you know any one whose lot it has been, by writing or by word of mouth, in some degree to help you thus to act; if he has ever told you what you knew about yourselves, or what you did not know; has read to you your wants or feelings, and comforted you by the very reading; has made you feel that there was a higher life than this daily one, and a brighter world than that you see; or encouraged you, or sobered you, or opened a way to the inquiring, or soothed the perplexed; if what he has said or done has ever made you take interest in him, and feel well inclined towards him; remember such a one in time to come, though you hear him not, and pray for him, that in all things he may know God's will, and at all times he may be ready to fulfil it.

An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (1845)

To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.
  • To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant.
    • Introduction, Part 5.
  • In a higher world it is otherwise, but here below to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.
    • Chapter 1, Section 1, Part 7.

Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics in England (1851)

Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics in England: Addressed to the Brothers of the Oratory (London: Burns & Lambert, 1851)
  • After he had gone over the mansion, his entertainer asked him what he thought of the splendours it contained; and he in reply did full justice to the riches of its owner and the skill of its decorators, but he added, "Lions would have fared better, had lions been the artists."
    • Lecture I, p. 4.
  • I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, who know their creed so well, that they can give an account of it, and who know enough of history to defend it. I want an intelligent, well-instructed laity.
    • Lecture IX, pp. 372–373
  • Nothing would be done at all, if a man waited till he could do it so well, that no one could find fault with it.
    • Lecture IX, p. 385

Apologia Pro Vita Sua [A defense of one's own life] (1864)

Apologia Pro Vita Sua (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1890)
  • Growth is the only evidence of life.
    • Ch. I, p. 5
  • I do not shrink from uttering my firm conviction that it would be a gain to the country were it vastly more superstitious, more bigoted, more gloomy, more fierce in its religion than at present it shows itself to be.
    • Ch. II, p. 46
  • From the age of fifteen, dogma has been the fundamental principle of my religion: I know no other religion; I cannot enter into the idea of any other sort of religion; religion, as a mere sentiment, is to me a dream and a mockery.
    • Ch. II, p. 49
  • As I have already said, there are but two alternatives, the way to Rome, and the way to Atheism.
    • Ch. IV, p. 204
  • Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt.
    • Ch. V, p. 239
  • The Catholic Church claims, not only to judge infallibly on religious questions, but to animadvert on opinions in secular matters which bear upon religion, on matters of philosophy, of science, of literature, of history, and it demands our submission to her claim. It claims to censure books, to silence authors, and to forbid discussions. In all this it does not so much speak doctrinally, as enforce measures of discipline. It must of course be obeyed without a word, and perhaps in process of time it will tacitly recede from its own injunctions. In such cases the question of faith does not come in; for what is matter of faith is true for all times, and never can be unsaid.
    • Ch. V, p. 257
  • Moreover, there is this harm too, and one of vast extent, and touching men generally, that by insincerity and lying faith and truth are lost, which are the firmest bonds of human society, and, when they are lost, supreme confusion follows in life, so that men seem in nothing to differ from devils.
    • Ch. V, p. 281
  • Now by Liberalism I mean false liberty of thought, or the exercise of thought upon matters, in which, from the constitution of the human mind, thought cannot be brought to any successful issue, and therefore is out of place. Among such matters are first principles of whatever kind; and of these the most sacred and momentous are especially to be reckoned the truths of Revelation. Liberalism then is the mistake of subjecting to human judgment those revealed doctrines which are in their nature beyond and independent of it, and of claiming to determine on intrinsic grounds the truth and value of propositions which rest for their reception simply on the external authority of the Divine Word.
    • Note A: Liberalism, p. 288. In Martin J. Svaglic edition (1967), pp. 255–56

The Dream of Gerontius (1865)

Full text online
  • Firmly I believe and truly
    God is Three, and God is One;
    And I next acknowledge duly
    Manhood taken by the Son.
    • Part I, line 76
  • It is thy very energy of thought
    Which keeps thee from thy God.
    • Part III, line 45
  • Praise to the Holiest in the height,
    And in the depth be praise:
    In all His words most wonderful;
    Most sure in all His ways!
    • Part V, line 4

The Idea of a University (1873)

  • There is a knowledge which is desirable, though nothing come of it, as being of itself a treasure, and a sufficient remuneration of years of labor.
    • Discourse V, pt. 6
  • Knowledge is one thing, virtue is another.
    • Discourse V, pt. 9.
  • Liberal Education makes not the Christian, not the Catholic, but the gentleman. It is well to be a gentlemen, it is well to have a cultivated intellect, a delicate taste, a candid, equitable, dispassionate mind, a noble and courteous bearing in the conduct of life. These are the connatural qualities of a large knowledge; they are the objects of a University; I am advocating, I shall illustrate and insist upon them; but still, I repeat, they are no guarantee for sanctity or even for conscientiousness, they may attach to the man of the world, to the profligate, to the heartless,—pleasant, alas, and attractive as he shows when decked out in them.
    • Discourse V, pt. 9.
  • The world is content with setting right the surface of things.
    • Discourse VIII, pt. 8.
  • A great memory does not make a philosopher, any more than a dictionary can be called grammar.
    • Discourse VIII, pt. 10.

Quotes about Newman

  • At dinner we talked of Newman, whose Dream of Gerontius Gladstone puts very high, so high that he speaks of it in the same breath with the Divina Commedia. At length he asked, "Which of his writings will be read in a hundred years?" "Well," said Henry Smith, "certainly his hymn, 'Lead kindly Light,' and 'The Parting of Friends,' the sermon he preached before leaving Littlemore." "I go further," said Gladstone. "I think all his parochial sermons will be read."
  • [His earlier poems are] unequalled for grandeur of outline, purity of taste and radiance of total effect.
    • R.H. Hutton; cited in: Hugh Chisholm. The Encyclopaedia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information, Volume 19, (1911), p. 519
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