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Vol I No. 1
Daily Thought

William Law Continued: Being and Well-being

by William J. Martin

All-Saints

[Addr-10] The Matter therefore plainly comes to this, Nothing can do, or be, the Good of Religion to the intelligent Creature, but the Power and Presence of God really and essentially living and working in it. But if this be the unchangeable nature of that Goodness and Blessedness which is to be had from our Religion, then of all Necessity, the Creature must have all its Religious Goodness as wholly and solely from God’s immediate Operation, as it had its first Goodness at its Creation.

All creatures derive their being or existing from God. In so far as they reproduce they imitate physically and tangibly the Eternal Nature of the Divine Being. By reproducing their own kind they imitate Eternal Being in a repetition of moments that reduplicate the species. Rational creatures ought always to intend to imitate the Divine Being in this way in the State of Holy Matrimony –that being between a male and female alone, of course, since only they can become the One Flesh that procreates and replicates humanity. Those who procreate in the Holy Estate of Matrimony reproduce the Goodness of creation and thus imitate the Lord.  

But beyond this, the rational creature also imitates the Divine Being through the mind’s discoveries of ways to enhance the health and well-being of the body for the sake of the peace of the soul. So through the discovery of various sciences man discovers ways to lengthen his life span so that he might have ample time to feel after God and find him. Of course, that most post-modern men don’t does nothing to overturn the true reasons for the mind’s ability to make scientific discoveries. Science exists for the sake of salvation, and thus Reason exists for the sake of faith. Faith and Revelation lead a man to his proper end, i.e. the Beatific Vision, but only if and when reason has been purified and equipped to serve belief in the Triune God. So all sciences must be the handmaidens of revelation or Sacred Doctrine, as both St. Bonaventure and St. Thomas Aquinas remind us.

So ultimately Revelation brings a man to his spiritual senses so that he may discover that he is made to know and love God. Revelation thus brings a man to see that he cannot know and love God until he obeys Him. To obey God means to be ruled and governed by the Being that informs all becoming-being. For the rational creature to obey God, he must surrender and submit to God’s wisdom. God’s wisdom alone rules and governs all being and thus all well-being. Well-being for man is found through submission to God’s will. Thus a second kind of Goodness is found in humble obedience and surrender to God. The ‘unchangeable nature of that Goodness and Blessedness which is to be had from the Christian religion’ is found from God alone. To be sure, there are lesser forms of natural goodness that a man might find, but these must all be considered sinful until they are purified and aligned with the will of God the Trinity. So true Goodness and Blessedness are generated only when the ‘power and presence of God are really and essentially living and working in the human soul.’ This comes, as we all know, only when the human being makes an act of will and surrenders to God’s Grace.

Now most creatures obey God through laws imposed upon their natures. This is true for rational creatures or human beings also. This is God’s joke for the atheist: i.e. Whether the atheist likes it or not, God informs, defines, quickens, and sustains his being! Now, of course, God does not define his well-being until he opens his soul and body to God’s will. But just as God sustains the being of the rational creature, so too does he desire to generate his well-being also. And just as the immediate presence of God to the creature sustains its being for as long as it lives in time and space, so the immediate presence of God desires to conceive, birth, grow, and perfect the human’s well-being also by living and working in him.

And it is the same impossibility for the Creature to help itself to that which is good and blessed in Religion, by any Contrivance, Reasonings, or Workings of its own Natural Powers, as to create itself. For the Creature, after its Creation, can no more take any Thing to itself that belongs to God, than it could take it, before it was created. And if Truth forces us to hold, that the Natural Powers of the Creature could only come from the one Power of God, the same Truth should surely more force us to confess, that That which comforts, that which enlightens, that which blesses, which gives Peace, Joy, Goodness, and Rest to its natural Powers, can be had in no other way, nor by any other Thing, but from God’s immediate holy Operation found in it.

Ultimately man might be able to aid and abet his continuance in time and space. But ultimately because God has created him, God sustains him for as long as He so pleases. This a man must acknowledge always, since it is a first step in making him right with his Maker. But man never takes his being from God so that it becomes his own or subject to his own power. ‘All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: the grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it:surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand forever.’ (Is. xl. 6-8) Man has his being on loan from God. Man derives his well being also from God. All comfort, illumination, and blessedness come from God’s Being also since these are virtues that originate with God and are shared with man in order to save him.

[Addr-11] Now the Reason why no Work of Religion, but that which is begun, continued, and carried on by the Living Operation of God in the creature, can have any Truth, Goodness, or Divine Blessing in it, is because nothing can in Truth seek God, but that which comes from God.

God cannot be found unless he is sought. God cannot be sought unless He is present to the heart and mind of man in some way. Now the One to be sought after and found may be at first be unclear and unknown. But if God had not implanted in man the desire or intention to seek Him, man would never have begun the quest after Him. The evidence that God has implanted this desire in man is found in man’s innate and natural desire to know and to find happiness. True enough, these are but traces and vestiges of a more focused and concentrated quest, but they are the beginning stages of man’s quest to find the God who is always present to him. That there is a knowledge and happiness that transcend his being is a sure sign to man that what he seeks begins and ends in a Being beyond him! Had God not made man to find Him, man might conclude in despair that there is no God to be found. But thankfully, God is present to his Saints, be they ever so few and even attacked by the wicked dogmatic imposition of Unbelief!

Nothing can in Truth find God as its Good, but that which has the Nature of God living in it; like can only rejoice in Like; and therefore no religious Service of the Creature can have any Truth, Goodness, or Blessing in it, but that which is done in the Creature, in, and through, and by a Principle and Power of the Divine Nature begotten and breathing forth in it all holy Tempers, Affections, and Adorations.

God is never far away from the rational creature though the rational creature may have made himself into a hardened clod and dense dolt. God is always present to His creature and forever intends to be found. Man is made as the ‘capax dei’, the one who has the capacity for receiving the rule and governance of God in his life, as the Church Fathers remind us. The vestiges of God’s being, knowing, and loving are found in every man. A man comes to know himself and if he is courageous, he searches after God until he finds Him. Having found him, more often than not, he is in the presence of the Divine Radical Other. But he finds no way to embrace and hold, in any lasting way, the God who is present to him. And thus, if he hopes beyond his own limited reason and human nature, he longs for God’s response to his separation from Him. If he searches with all humble desire and passion, he will find God reconciling his human nature to Himself in Jesus Christ. If he then submits and surrenders to Jesus’ all salvific Life, Light, and Love made flesh, he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit and thus consumed with the tempers, affections, and adorations that unite him to God in indissolvable intimacy. Jesus Christ is the principle and power of the Divine nature perfectly begotten and breathing forth His life into those who receive Him. In Jesus Christ man finds the origin and end of his being in God’s Well-Being and Blessedness.

©wjsmartin