MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA TREATISE I. GOD. 22. CONFORMITY TO GOD'S WILL.
BOUTS, Dieric the Younger
MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA
TREATISE I. GOD
22. CONFORMITY TO GOD'S WILL.
I. The will of God is the law of our life ; our will is the motive power in our life ; if our will, then, is harmonious with the will of God, our life and action will be perfect, in accordance with their law, and in resemblance to God. To accept fully the will of God is indeed a strict duty, but it is also most meritorious. It is an act of profound submission to God in that we subject to His dominion that faculty which holds dominion in our lives, and so exalt His divine authority. It is a grateful sacrifice to God to offer Him a thing that is so entirely our own ; and as this faculty sums up all that we have, the oblation of it is a holocaust, a consecration of all our being to God. If we carry out the spirit of conformity fully, we shall be led thereby to the practice of the highest virtues. There is prudence in taking so infallible and beneficial a rule as our guide. There is justice, because we render to the Supreme Being what is His due. Nothing gives such fortitude in acting and enduring as the consciousness that we are fulfilling the will of God. Temperance or moderation is identical with re straining those appetites that oppose the divine will. We acquire perfect peace and security when we feel that everything is ordained by God, and content ourselves with it accordingly. Conformity to God's will is one of the characteristics of the blessed in heaven ; and as to us on earth, Our Lord says, " Whoever shall do the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother " (Matt. xii. 50). Offer your will to God. Desire nothing apart from Him.
II. There are four principal forms of this high virtue. 1. Conformity of obedience, whereby we desire to obey all those commands and prohibitions which are essential to our salvation. 2. Conformity of habit, by which we cultivate in ourselves the same ideas and dispositions towards different objects that God has. This is what St. Paul commands : " Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus " (Phil. ii. 5). Consider how Our Lord regarded such things as pleasure, labour, death, riches, prayer, mankind, God. 3. Conformity of aim, by which we strive after the same objects as God does; viz., His glory, the diffusion of knowledge and love of Him, the reign of justice, the salvation of souls. 4. Conformity of object, i.e., desiring everything that God desires without exception, and rejecting everything unreservedly that He disapproves of. This last can only be practised perfectly in heaven. Inquire as to God's will in each respect and see how you are conformed to it. Never resist it in the smallest degree, for " who hath resisted Him and hath had peace ? " (Job. ix. 4).
III. This last kind of conformity in its perfect form is not demanded of us on earth ; our weakness can hardly rise to that height. Our Lord Himself mercifully accommodated His example to our capacities ; for, while resigning Himself perfectly to the divine will, He said, " Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me " (Matt. xxvi. 39). We too are allowed to pray for favours and deprecate chastisement, in the hope that God may have so arranged things from the beginning, in prevision of our prayers, as to grant our desires ; but we must be prepared to accept a refusal or a delay with contentment and gratitude. It is a great perfection, however, " to ask nothing and refuse nothing " in the temporal order, to cast ourselves unreservedly into the arms of the divine will, indifferent to all that may happen, wishing only that God's purposes be accomplished, and knowing that everything He decrees is arranged for the best. So did the saints generally act in regard of themselves. Desire at least to have this conformity. Trust more in God. Be sure that " to them that love God all things work together unto good, to such as, according to His purpose, are called to be saints (Rom. viii. 28).
MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA BY THE RIGHT REV. JAMES BELLORD, D.D.