Vol I No. 7
Anglicans Worldwide

William Law: Address to the Clergy, xxiv-xxvi

by William J. Martin


[Addr-24] Now when Christ had told them of the Necessity of an higher State than that they were in, and the Necessity of such a comforting illuminating Guide, as they could not have till his outward Teaching in human Language was changed into the Inspiration, and Operation of his Spirit in their Souls, He commands them, not to begin to bear Witness of him to the World, from what they did and could in an human Way know of him, his Birth his Life, Doctrines, Death, Sufferings, Resurrection, &c., but to tarry at Jerusalem, till they were endued with Power from on high; saying unto them, Ye shall receive Power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you. And then shall ye bear witness unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and unto the utmost Part of the Earth.

All sorts of imposters, thieves, and robbers try to steal the truth of God the Word by grandstanding with speaking, preaching, and teaching. That they are fraudulent hypocrites is revealed when they are called to stand on the truth, forth the truth, and in the truth. Then they tend to sidestep the issues, engage in doublespeak, and attempt to be all things to all men. The disease is found mostly in Bishops and other high-end clerics, and in not a few Christians. Under the cover of compassion, pity, mercy, and forgiveness they claim that they are refraining from judging others. Of course they are too dimwitted to realize that Christians always judge the sin and not the sinner. The Christian is called to let ‘his yea be yea and his nay, nay.’ The Christian who loves the sinner hates his sin, and thus he mourns over the sinful state that men embrace and prays for his fellow men’s conversion. Those who fail to do this are more interested in their own self-image and the approval of the heathen than in the damnation of the nations! They run from the truth because they are cowards who don’t care. For if they cared truly for their fellow men’s eternal salvation, they would do all in their power to pray without ceasing for the conversion of men and women who live in perverse darkness. Any Spirit-driven Christian who sees his brother or sister living in sin, betraying God, and living insouciantly must pray without ceasing for conversion and return to God.

But we cannot do this unless and until God’s Holy Spirit has taken up residence in our souls. We should not be surprised to see Bishops –even Popes, who cannot confront sin head on and assess it honestly. They are not filled with the Holy Spirit. Were they filled with Him, they would not give off so much as the slightest appearance of condoning or enabling sin and evil in this world! So we should pray for these poor quacks that look like Christians on the outside but inwardly they are ravening wolves. For our part, we must be determined to embrace the Holy Spirit in our own lives. For long before we explain and elucidate the Gospel to others, we had better be alive to it in our hearts and souls. Thus we must open ourselves to the ‘comforting illuminating guidance of the Holy Ghost.’ Long before they went out to covert the nations, the Apostles spent time opening their lives to the spiritual penetration and conquest of God’s Holy Spirit. They knew that the Holy Spirit would find in them much to be destroyed and crucified, much to be adjusted and corrected, and much to be redeemed and perfected if they were to become living members of Christ’s Earthly Human Body, the Church. It does not suffice for true Disciples of Christ to know about His external, visible, and historical existence. Such is as good as dead to those who would are intended to discover His true purpose and intention for all men. For a man to be a Christian, he must be one with Christ. To be one with Christ means that the Holy Spirit of the Father and the Son informs and defines a man so that he becomes a true partaker and participant in Christ’s life for the Father’s service. More to the point, the Apostles were ‘endued with power from on High, Rebirthed from Above’ that they might be born again and then adopted into the life that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit share. Men can bear witness only to what moves and defines them inwardly and spiritually. The Apostles were moved and defined by the Holy Spirit’s capture of their hearts and souls. And so, proving Aristotle’s dictum that ‘knowledge is not virtue’ they reveal to us that knowledge of God’s truth, beauty, and goodness must be willed or actualized in human life through the voluntary act. The truth, beauty, and goodness of God made flesh is Jesus Christ. For men to be swept up into its all-efficacious loving intention for all men, men must will to become one with it.  

[Addr-25] Here are two most important and fundamental Truths fully demonstrated, First, that the Truth and Perfection of the Gospel State could not take place, till Christ was glorified, and his Kingdom among Men made wholly and solely a continual immediate Ministration of the Spirit: Every Thing before this was but subservient for a Time, and preparatory to this last Dispensation, which could not have been the last, had it not carried Man above Types, Figures and Shadows, into the real Possession and Enjoyment of that which is the Spirit and Truth of a Divine Life. For the End is not come till it has found the Beginning; that is, the last dispensation of God to fallen Man cannot be come, till putting an end to the “Bondage of weak and beggarly Elements,” Gal. iv.9, it brings Man to that dwelling in God, and God in him, which he had at the Beginning.

Now it is impossible that we should begin to be made better until our Human Nature had reached its first phase of perfection in the Glorified Christ. Fallen Human Nature was doomed to alienation from God. Human Nature in receipt of God’s Grace in Jesus Christ can now begin the journey back to God, first in time and space temporarily and imperfectly, and second in eternity finally and purely. Christ’s Kingdom among Men cannot be made except the same Spirit that defined his reconciliation of Human Nature to the Father become a common pattern and source for all men’s participation in the same Kingdom. So first we are reconciled to God in Jesus Christ. Next we take our appointed places in His Body through the Holy Spirit. First the Kingdom is established by the Son and next it is established through the Holy Spirit. So prior to man’s ultimate and final salvation, he must be freed from ‘bondage to the weak and beggarly Elements’ of this world. (Gal. iv. 9) Thus the Holy Spirit must so work on a man that he begins to dwell in God and God in him, a state which he had originally before he fell from God’s Grace. Only with this beginning of the Holy Spirit’s good work in the soul, as a man begins to become a very member incorporate in Christ’s Mystical Body, can a man begin to be freed from his sinful humanity and put on the garment of the salvation. To be freed from the creation as a false god is essential to man’s salvation. (This includes being freed from a wrong-headed idolatry of Christ’s perceived Human Nature.)

[Addr-26] Secondly, that as the Apostles could not, so no man, from their Time to the End of the World, can have any true and real Knowledge of the Spiritual Blessings of Christ’s Redemption, or have a Divine Call, Capacity, or Fitness to preach, and bear Witness of them to the World, but solely by that Same Divine Spirit opening all the Mysteries of a Redeeming Christ in their inward Parts, as it did in the Apostles, Evangelists, and first Ministers of the Gospel.

To share the truth and power of the Gospel with others, a man must be held captive by it inwardly and spiritually in the Holy Spirit. Having said that, if more Christians were to embrace this intended labor of God in the vineyard of their souls, they would be far less susceptible to deception and fraud in the clergy. What passes these days for holiness is nothing of the sort. Those who blow a horn to announce their virtues are at the furthest most remove from any possession of the good. True virtue is hard to find. And for its own good, more often than not, it finds it necessary to remain quiet, concealed, and hidden lest it share too swiftly and rashly what it does not yet accurately or faithfully possess.