Thursday, July 16, 2009

Isaac Williams on Trinity 5 and your arrogant presumption

... This is the important warning of this Sunday: the necessity of withdrawing all our affections, interest, and anxieties from the things of time, and fixing them without reserve upon Christ in God, that we may serve Him with joy. Let us apply this to the outward course of this world, in public matters. Many are anxious that these should “be so peaceably ordered,” that the Church may serve God in quietness; but then they seem to think that this is to be effected by their own governance, and not by the governance of God; for otherwise how could they be so full of manifold anxieties, so absorbed in the success of their own wishes and management? and from hence what a world of bitter thoughts and jealousies, low and mean joys, and still meaner fears? From the state of their hearts on this subject, one might think that God had given up unto them the government of His own world. St. Paul commands that we pray “for kings, and all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty.” Observe what are the means for this end. It is prayer only; it is to God only that we are to look in this, as in all other matters. For it is by looking to God in such matters, that not only will the objects we desire be brought about, but also our own souls healed with respect to them. It is the only cure for our own anxious desires and private ends.

Such is the lesson which the Collect appears so seasonably to bring before us at this time with regard to the course of public affairs. But it applies no less forcibly to our own personal interests; for as we pray to God that He will so govern this world that His Church may joyfully serve Him in quietness, so also must we leave it entirely to Him alone, that the course of outward events may be so ordered- that the soul may serve Him without distraction. To serve Him with joy is quite impossible, unless it be with an undivided heart; to serve Him in godly quietness can never be, if we are disquieted and “troubled about many things;” and disquieted we certainly must be, so far as we are not deeply in our hearts convinced that the course of this world, with regard to ourselves, must be ordered by His governance, and not by our own. O blessed and peaceful knowledge, which His Spirit alone can give! hidden anchor of the soul which, amidst the storms of this world, binds it to the eternal shore !

And now to return once more to the Epistle. What can be more seasonable and valuable than that concluding exhortation of St. Peter, Who can harm you if ye be followers of that which is good? and if, for righteousness’ sake, ye suffer persecution, happy are ye. And be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled. Sanctify God in your hearts, and all will be well. Fear Him, and ye need fear nothing else. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness,” and all will work together for your good, your great and final happiness.


Why then, it may be asked, do we pray that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered, that His Church may joyfully serve God in quietness; if this joyfulness in God may be in the midst of persecution, and He may be served in quietness amidst the storms of the world? The fact is, that this distraction of heart, which hinders us from the true service of God, does not so much arise from troubles and enemies that are without, as from the fear of them; and it is by prayer to God that we get rid of such fears.

Isaac Williams, The Peaceable Ordering of the World

h/t to KDN for LC