Only Love For God Moves Us Forward
Let us then put aside vain excuses; and, instead of looking for outward events to change our course of life, be sure of this, that if our course of life is to be changed, it must be from within. God’s grace moves us from within, so does our own will. External circumstances have no real power over us. If we do not love God, it is because we have not wished to love Him, tried to love Him, prayed to love Him. We have not borne the idea and the wish in our mind day by day, we have not had it before us in the little matters of the day, we have not lamented that we loved Him not, we have been too indolent, sluggish, carnal, to attempt to love Him in little things, and begin at the beginning; we have shrunk from the effort of moving from within; we have been like persons who cannot get themselves to rise in the morning; and we have desired and waited for a thing impossible—to be changed once and for all, all at once, by some great excitement from without, or some great event, or some special season; something or other we go on expecting, which is to change us without our having the trouble to change ourselves. We covet some miraculous warning, or we complain that we are not in happier circumstances, that we have so many cares, or so few religious privileges; or we look forward for a time when religion will come easy to us as a matter of course. This we used to look out for as boys; we used to think there was time enough yet to think of religion, and that it was a natural thing, that it came without trouble or effort, for men to be religious as life went on; we fancied that all old persons must be religious; and now even, as grown men, we have not put off this deceit; but, instead of giving our hearts to God, we are waiting, with Felix, for a convenient season.
Let us rouse ourselves, and act as reasonable men, before it is too late; let us understand, as a first truth in religion, that love of heaven is the only way to heaven. Sight will not move us; else why did Judas persist in covetousness in the very presence of Christ? Why did Balaam, whose eyes were opened, remain with a closed heart? Why did Satan fall, when he was a bright archangel? Nor will reason subdue us; else why was the Gospel, in the beginning, “to the Greeks foolishness”? Nor will excited feelings convert us; for there is one who “heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it”; yet “hath no root in himself,” and “dureth” only “for a while.” Nor will self-interest prevail with us; or the rich man would have been more prudent, whose “ground brought forth plentifully,” and would have recollected that “that night his soul” might be “required of him.” Let us understand that nothing but the love of God can make us believe in Him or obey Him; and let us pray Him, who has “prepared for them that love Him, such good things as pass man’s understanding, to pour into our hearts such love toward Him, that we, loving Him above all things, may obtain His promises, which exceed all that we can desire.”
—Excerpt from: Parochial and Plain Sermons, Book 8. Sermon 6. Miracles No Remedy for Unbelief
Newman, J. H. (2010). Life’s Purpose: Wisdom from John Henry Newman (pp. 65–67). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.