John Henry Newman's “Moses the Type of Christ” lays out a highly logical, unemotional argument, divided into three clear examples of Moses's parallels to Christ. Newman thoroughly explores each point, until he ends the academic examination of Moses and segues into a much more direct address to the congregation on the relevant season and their own flaws, concluding with several rhetorical questions aimed explicitly at the audience. But between the second and third points comparing Moses to Christ, he includes an abrupt aside that veers from the dispassionate and analytical tone into something much more immediate and chastising:
And yet, alas! in spite of all this bounty, men called Christians, and how many! live heartlessly, not caring for the gracious benefit. Look at the world. Men begin life with sinning; they quench the early promise of grace, and defile their souls; they block up the entrances of the spiritual senses by acts of sin, lying and deceit, intemperance, profaneness, or uncleanness, — by a foolish and trifling turn of mind, — by neglect of prayer when there is no actual vice, — or by an obstinate selfishness. How many are the ways in which men begin to lose sight of God! — how many are the fallings Away of those who once began well! And then they [126/127] soon forget that they have really left God; they still think they see His face, though their sins have begun to blind them. Like men who fall asleep, the real prospect still flits before them in their dreams, but out of shape and proportion, discoloured, crowded with all manner of fancies and untruths; and so they proceed in that dream of sin, more or less profound, — sometimes rousing, then turning back again for a little more slumber, till death awakens them. Death alone gives lively perceptions to the generality of men, who then see the very truth, such as they saw it before they began to sin, but more clear and more fearful; but they who are the pure in heart, like Joseph; or the meek among men, like Moses; or faithful found among the faithless, as Daniel; these men see God all through life in the face of His Eternal Son; and, while the world mocks them, or tries to reason them out of their own real knowledge, they are like Moses on the mount, blessed and hidden, — "hid with Christ in God," beyond the tumult and idols of the world, and interceding for it ["Moses the Type of Christ" p. 6]
These ruminations on the flaws of men and the few who “see God through all life” seem moderately jarring to the flow of Newman's analysis of Moses as the type of Christ.
1. Does this seeming break in Newman's argument function solely as a transition into the third point? Newman continues with, “This leads me to mention a third point of resemblance between Moses and Christ. Moses was the great intercessor when the Israelites sinned...Here Moses, as is obvious, shadows out the true Mediator between God and man, who is ever at the right hand of God making intercession for us...” Or compared to the brief, smooth continuation of the first point into the second, is this passage too tangential and lengthy to serve only as a transition, and does it exist for its own sake?
2. Why might this aside, which has much more in character with the final two paragraphs than the intellectual part of the sermon, be placed in the middle of the argument rather than melded into the end?
3. This paragraph remains less direct than the questions at the end of the sermon. Is it in the same vein?
4. Does the section on those men who “see God all through life in the face of His Eternal Son” clash with Newman's point that Moses is the only one aside from Christ to truly see God, or is it meant more metaphorically?
Last modified 31 January 2011