O Lord, who never failest to help and govern them whom thou dost bring up in thy steadfast fear and love: keep us, we beseech thee, under the protection of thy good providence; and make us to have a perpetual fear and love of thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
A reading from the sermons of Mark Frank
Worldly honour may consist with Christ’s; our greatest estate with the true riches; our lawful busiest vocations with his service; our secular learning with heavenly knowledge; the care of our bodies with the salvation of our souls; our lives with his death: only they must not stand in competition for time and place, but be all left to his disposing; and when at any time they cannot either stand with his service or hinder it, then leave them all we must to follow him, as occasions and opportunities shall require the forsaking of any of them, be it life itself. Alas! he loves not Christ at all that loves anything above him, anything equal with him that prefers anything to him, or will not readily leave it for him.
We have read of many who have left their thrones and cast away their sceptres; many who have thrown away their riches, and deserted their estates; many who have given over all their thriving ways; many who have bid adieu to all secular studies; many who have in strange austerities and mortifications neglected, nay, crucified their bodies, and others that have run to death as to a wedding, that so they might the easier follow, or the more happily attain to their Master’s steps: but these are singular and particular heights; the ordinary course of Christianity is by a lower way. Yet is the way good too. Says St Jerome: ‘he also verily forsakes all that desires none’, nothing but Jesus Christ; who ‘has crucified the flesh with all the affections and lusts’ as the Apostle speaks (Gal 5:24), the world with all the desires thereof; who though he has all he can desire, yet desires nothing but what God will have him attain.
Sometimes it may fall out that we must leave our callings to go after him, when they be either truly sinful or evidently dangerous; and our wealth, when it is unjustly gotten or unrighteously held, we must restore and leave to the right owners of it. Sometimes again it may be lawful for us to have both estates and callings, though we be not bound to it; as when we plainly see we can thereby serve our Master better, and he seems to point us to it; when we perceive we cannot else perform the task or calling he has designed us to, or the business he has already set us upon.