Arthur Middleton on Holiness
Bishop Paget, formerly of Oxford said:
Surely, there is no power in the world so unerring or irrepressible as the power of personal holiness. All else goes wrong, blunders, loses proportion, falls disastrously short of its aim, grows stiff or one-sided, or out of date –“whether there be prophecies they shall fail; whether there be tongues they shall cease; whether there be knowledge it shall vanish away;” but nothing mars or misleads the influence that issues from a pure and humble and unselfish character.
A man’s gifts may lack opportunity, his efforts may be misunderstood; but the spiritual power of a consecrated will needs not opportunity, and can enter where the doors are shut. By no fault of a man’s own gifts, he may suggest to one the thoughts of criticism, comparison, competition; his self-consecration can do no harm in this way. Of gifts, some are best for long distances, some for objects close at hand or in direct contact; but personal holiness, determining, refining, characterising everything that a man says or does, will tell alike on those he may not know even by name, and on those who see him in the constant intimacy of his home.( Cited in The Personal life of the clergy p. 18)
In 2001 Bishops Rowell, Stevenson and Williams published Love’s Redeeming Work, a kind of Anglican Philokalia, comprising many of the ascetic and mystical writings of the Anglican tradition that nurture the life of prayer and the pursuit of holiness. The aim in compiling this anthology of Anglican writings on holiness was to make them more widely available. The writers recognised that there was more than enough material in confining themselves to the post-Reformation period and hoped they had included enough material from the world-wide Anglican Communion to be fully representative of Anglicanism. It was also decided not to include writings from those still alive.
After a General Introduction, the anthology is divided into three parts. Part One spans the years 1530-1650; part two 650-1830; and part three 1830-2001. Each part is edited by one of the three bishops.
The hope and prayer of the authors was for this anthology to continue to encourage Anglicans and other Christians on the journey into holiness, and that those who are stimulated and encouraged by the extracts chosen may go on to explore the man other writings of the authors included in this anthology and so contribute to the renewal of the rich heritage of the Anglican tradition.
As the Michaelmas Collect prays, it is God who has constituted the service of angels and mortals in a wonderful order, and it is God who enables men and women to do him service on earth as his angels do in heaven, by grace sharing with them his life that they may be transformed into his likeness fome one degree of glory to another,
Dr David Hope quotes these words from St Augustine of Hippo in his Afterword:
May the Lord grant
That you may observe all these things with love,
As lovers of spiritual beauty,
Radiating by your good life the sweet odour of Christ,
Not like slaves under the law
But as free persons
Established in grace