Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. IV. Eighteenth Century
Character of Ouranius
By William Law (16861761)
From Serious Call
OURANIUS is a holy priest, full of the spirit of the gospel, watching, labouring, and praying for a poor country village. Every soul in it is as dear to him as himself; and he loves them all as he loves himself, because he prays for them all as often as he prays for himself.
If his whole life is one continual exercise of great zeal and labour, hardly ever satisfied with any degrees of care and watchfulness, it is because he has learned the great value of souls, by so often appearing before God, as an intercessor for them.
He never thinks he can love, or do enough for his flock; because he never considers them in any other view than as so many persons that, by receiving the gifts and graces of God, are to become his hope, his joy, and his crown of rejoicing.
He goes about his parish, and visits everybody in it; but visits in the same spirit of piety that he preaches to them; he visits them, to encourage their virtues, to assist them with his advice and counsel, to discover their manner of life, and to know the state of their souls, that he may intercede with God for them according to their particular necessities.
When Ouranius first entered into holy orders, he had a haughtiness in his temper, a great contempt and disregard for all foolish and unreasonable people; but he has prayed away this spirit, and has now the greatest tenderness for the most obstinate sinners; because he is always hoping that God will sooner or later hear those prayers that he makes for their repentance.
The rudeness, ill-nature, or perverse behaviour of any of his flock used at first to betray him into impatience; but now it raises no other passion in him, than a desire of being upon his knees in prayer to God for them.
It would strangely delight you to see with what spirit he converses, with what tenderness he reproves, with what affection he exhorts, and with what vigour he preaches; and it is all owing to this, because he reproves, exhorts, and preaches to those, for whom he first prays to God.
At his first coming to his little village, it was as disagreeable to him as a prison, and every day seemed too tedious to be endured in so retired a place. He thought his parish was too full of poor and mean people, that were none of them fit for the conversation of a gentleman.
This put him upon a close application to his studies. He kept much at home, writ notes upon Homer and Plautus, and sometimes thought it hard to be called to pray by any poor body, when he was just in the midst of one of Homers battles.
But now his days are so far from being tedious, or his parish too great a retirement, that he now only wants more time to do that variety of good, which his soul thirsts after. The solitude of his little parish is become matter of great comfort to him, because he hopes that God has placed him and his flock there, to make it their way to heaven.
He can now not only converse with, but gladly attend and wait upon the poorest kind of people. He is now daily watching over the weak and infirm, humbling himself to perverse, rude, ignorant people, wherever he can find them; and is so far from desiring to be considered as a gentleman, that he desires to be used as the servant of all; and in the spirit of his Lord and Master girds himself, and is glad to kneel down and wash any of their feet.
All these noble thoughts and divine sentiments are the effects of his great devotion; he presents every one so often before God, in his prayers, that he never thinks he can esteem, reverence, or serve those enough, for whom he implores so many mercies from God.
For this reason he has sold a small estate that he had, and has erected a charitable retirement for ancient poor people, to live in prayer and piety, that his prayers being assisted by such good works, may pierce the clouds, and bring down blessings upon those souls committed to his care.
Ouranius reads how God himself said unto Abimelech concerning Abraham, He is a prophet; he shall pray for thee and thou shalt live. And again, how He said of Job, And my servant Job shall pray for you, for him will I accept.
From these passages Ouranius justly concludes, that the prayers of men eminent for holiness of life have an extraordinary power with God; that He grants to other people such pardons, reliefs, and blessings, through their prayers, as would not be granted to men of less piety and perfection. This makes Ouranius exceeding studious of Christian perfection, searching after every grace and holy temper, purifying his heart all manner of ways, fearful of every error and defect in his life, lest his prayers for his flock should be less availing with God, through his own defects in holiness.
This makes him careful of every temper of his heart, give alms of all he hath, watch and fast and mortify and live according to the strictest rules of temperance, meekness, and humility, that he may be in some degree like an Abraham or a Job in his parish, and make such prayers for them as God will hear and accept.