Monday, November 30, 2009

Oration


                              THE GREATEST WORK OF GOD'S HANDS
                                  John Henry Cardinal Newman

                        We have familiar experience of the order, the constancy, the perpetual renovation of the material
world which surrounds us. Frail and transitory as is elements, never-ceasing as are its changes, still it abides. It is bound togeteher by a law of permanence , it is set up in unity, and, though it is ever dying, it is ever coming to life again. Dissolution does give birth to fresh modes of organization, and one death is the parent of a thousand lives. Each hour, as it comes, is but a testimony how fleeting, yet how secure, how certain, is the great whole. It is like an image on the waters, which is ever the same, though the waters ever flow. Change upon change -yet one change cries out to another, like the alternate Seraphim, in praise and in glory to their Maker. The sun sinks to rise again; the day is swallowed up in the gloom of the night, to be born out of it, as fresh as if it had never been quenched. Spring passes into summer and through summer and autumn into winter, only the more surely, by its own ultimate return to triumph over tha grave, towards which it resolutely hastened from its first hour. We mourn over the blossoms of May, because they are to wither, but we know, withal, that May is one day to have its revenge upon November, by the revolution of that solemn circle which never stops-which teaches us in our height of hope, ever to be sober, and in our depth of desolation, never to despair. That which ought to come to naught, endures. That which promises a future, disaapointment and is no more. The same sun shines in heaven from first to last, and the blue firmament, the everlasting mountains, reflect his rays, but where is there upon earth the champion, the hero, the law-giver, the body politic, the sovereign race, which was great three hundred years ago, and is great now? Man rises to fall; he tends to dissolution from the moment he begins to be; he lives on indeed, in his children, he lives on in his name, he lives not on in his person. He is, as regards the manifestations of his nature here below, as a bubble that breaks, and as water poured upon the earth. He was young, he is old, he is never young again. This is the lament over him, poured forth in verse and prose, by Christians and by heathens. The greatest work of God's hands under the sun, he, in all the manifestations of his complex being, is born only to die.
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