Vol I No. 7
Anglicans Worldwide

William Law Continued...

by William J. Martin



[Addr-9] But now, if all that is Divine, great, glorious, and happy, in the Spirits, Tempers, Operations, and Enjoyments of the Creature, is only so much of the Greatness, Glory, Majesty, and Blessedness of God, dwelling in it, and giving forth various Births of his own triune Life, Light, and Love, in and through the manifold Forms and capacities of the Creature to receive them, then we may infallibly see the true Ground and Nature of all true Religion, and when and how we may be said to fulfill all our Religious Duty to God.

We do well to remember that all Goodness comes from God. We have said that all being and all well-being is generated in creation by God alone. And thus we must confess that any goodness that emerges from us had to enter into us from without. We are not able to do any good thing without God, and thus the goodness that begins to grow in us we have because God has loaned it to us. Goodness is a gift or talent that God gives to us so that we may make it grow out of us and into the hearts of others. God gives to us his virtues for three reasons: first, in order to enable us to cleave to Him; second, that we may be in love and charity with our neighbour; third, that we may grow in sanctification. So, to the first point, we long to praise and adore Him for His ‘Greatness, Glory, Majesty, and Blessedness’. It is helpful if we iterate each day some specific instances of His Divine Majesty that have been shared with the world in the economy of man’s creation and redemption. So we praise Him for multifarious instances of His Life, Light, and Love. His Life enables us to persist. His Light illuminates us to His Perfection and deeper ways for our repentance. His Love sustains us in the vision of His Presence and the supplication of His mercy. To the second point, if for no other reason, love of neighbor clears the space of our hearts for the deeper reform that God intends in our lives. Failure to pray for others, to forgive all, hope for all men’s salvation, and to love all in God and God in all leads to Hell. Many a well-intentioned Christian on the outside has failed to prove his faith in God on the inside because he is moved and defined by other men and their real or imagined sins against him! So love of neighbor is a commandment that is disobeyed or disregarded only to the peril of a man’s soul and the ruination of his eternal destiny. On the other hand, once a man jumps this hurdle and learns to love all and to pray for all, he is ready to undergo the deep spiritual transformation that the Holy Ghost has in store for him. If we hope to return to the ground of our souls and its condition, we must leave all else behind in order to see ourselves in relation to the Ground and Nature of our being.

For the Creature’s true Religion, is its rendering to God all that is God’s, it is its true continual Acknowledging all that which it is, and has, and enjoys, in and from God. This is the one true Religion of all intelligent Creatures, whether in Heaven, or on Earth; for as they all have but one and the same Relation to God, so though ever so different in their several Births, States or Offices, they all have but one and the same true Religion, or right Behavior towards God.

So if we would be sanctified and saved, we must return to the source and origin of all being and goodness. We must have a more constant converse and communication with our Maker than we have with our fellows. We must be coming into His presence at set times for the Daily Office, and at times scattered through the day when some Divine inspiration lifts our heart back to God for strength to help in time of need or temptation, in petitionary prayer for a friend, enemy, or stranger, in thanksgiving for the sheer gift of being able to think and to work, or in recognition that God is calling us to Himself simply that we might remember that He is near. No matter what the reason, we ought at all times to be returning to the Lord as the origin and cause of all that right, true, and good for us and for all others.

Now the one Relation, which is the Ground of all true Religion, and is one and the same between God and all intelligent Creatures, is this, it is a total unalterable Dependence upon God, an immediate continual receiving of every Kind, and Degree of Goodness, Blessing and Happiness, that ever was, or can be found in them, from God alone. The highest Angel has nothing of its own that it can offer unto God, no more Light, Love, Purity, Perfection, and glorious Hallelujahs, that spring from itself, or its own Powers, than the poorest Creature upon Earth. Could the Angel see a Spark of Wisdom, Goodness, or Excellence, as coming from, or belonging to itself, its Place in Heaven would be lost, as sure as Lucifer lost his.

We do well to remember that if for one split second a good angel took his eyes off of the source and origin of the being and goodness that he enjoyed, he would be catapulted into Hell! The angels are thus not given the benefit of time, space, and a body through which to work out their obedience to God. They are pure spirits who live in the immediacy of God alone. Because they are all-spirit, they have immediate knowledge of God and God alone and thus if they stray, they are doomed. But we men have so many ways in which to find and discover our dependence upon our maker. The creation around us is a multiplicity and variety of signs and wonders that will, if we allow them, lead us back to the Mind and Heart of the Maker. Even our own bodies should remind us of so great a God whose pure desire and joy is to quicken us so that we may come into communion with Him. If we would but think of the intricate design and the multifarious laws and rules that govern our bodies, we would be silenced in the presence of so great and terrible a Maker. Who would not stop his mouth, still his heart, and silence his mind in the presence of such a merciful and loving God as our God. “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man O Lord,” we would cry with the Chief of the Apostles. And then, to remember that what we find in our bodies is perceived by our souls, souls made to see, perceive, and behold such wonders, why then, who would not fall down before the Divine Majesty with such a sense of awesome wonder and trembling fear?

But they are ever-abiding Flames of Pure Love, always ascending up to and uniting with God, for this Reason, because the Wisdom, the Power, the Glory, the Majesty, the Love, and Goodness of God alone, is all that they see, and feel, and know, either within or without themselves. —Songs of Praise to their heavenly Father are their ravishing Delight, because they see, and know, and feel, that it is the Breath and Spirit of their Heavenly Father that sings and rejoices in them. Their Adoration in Spirit and in Truth never ceases, because they never cease to acknowledge the ALL of God; —the ALL of God in the whole Creation. This is the one Religion of Heaven, and nothing else is the Truth of Religion on Earth.

Here is the adoration of the good angels who know only God and His Goodness. And yet, why cannot we mortal men find time to delight in our God for the very same reason. That we have bodies and live immersed in the multiplicity and variety of God’s dispersed goodness is no excuse to abandon adoration. We have, it might be said, more reason to magnify the Lord, to exult in Him doubly. For we see, hear, smell, taste, touch, and know the creation and then its Creator. We see the work and then the Worker. We use all of our senses and then our minds. Our minds discover the effects and then the Cause. Our hearts are shaken when we find His care, concern, due diligence, and love. And more than this, we remember too, that He does not rest satisfied with nature and its laws. He longs to elicit a response from us. He calls us forth from us an act of will. He longs that we may not only find His rule and governance of all things naturally, but that we too might be ruled and governed by Him, by His Word made flesh in one and then many, in Christ and in us, then and now, before and after. His is the Word that rules and governs. His is the Word that lives and dies. His is the Word that rises and ascends. His is the Word that comes to us again. Oh, dear friends, what a call and vocation. Let us with the angels freely adore only Him. Breath and Spirit validating His Word.