We beseech thee also to lead all nations in the way of righteousness and peace; and so to direct all kings and rulers, that under them thy people may be godly and quietly governed. 1662 BCP
We beseech thee also, so to direct and dispose the hearts of all Christian Rulers, that they may truly and impartially administer justice, to the punishment of wickedness and vice, and to the maintenance of thy true religion, and virtue. 1928 BCP
It is interesting to compare the 1928 BCP Prayer for the Whole State of Christ's Church above with that of the 1979 BCP below.
We beseech thee also so to rule the hearts of those who bear the authority of government in this and every land [especially ], that they may be led to wise decisions and right actions for the welfare and peace of the world.
The 1928 version is simply more realistic. It is a reasonable expectation that the State will "truly and impartially administer justice, to the punishment of wickedness and vice, and to the maintenance of thy true religion, and virtue."A much taller order is that the State will "be led to wise decisions and right actions for the welfare and peace of the world". It is not something we can really expect the State to do consistently, habitually or at all. It is not exactly clear in any case how we could measure the State's success in fulfilling these high and worthy ends. We can, however, expect the State to truly and impartially administer laws, punish wickedness and vice, protect true religion and virtue. These things are attainable and can be measured. It is also likely that, when we are told that the State can deliver peace and welfare to the world, it covers up the fact that the State is not giving to the people what they can reasonably expect it to provide.
The old prayer that we "may be godly and quietly governed" may seem similarly beyond the scope of Government, especially these days. Yet this is what we want most from the State. The noisy and loud cacophony of governance comes from the failure of politics to grasp that it must have an end beyond politics.
So St. Thomas Aquinas: "All practical activity, from practice of the ethical virtues to gaining of means of livelihood, serves something other than itself. And this other thing is not practical activity. It is having what is sought after, while we rest content in the results of our active efforts. Precisely that is the meaning of the old adage that the vita activa is fulfilled in the vita contemplativa".
"To be sure, the active life contains a felicity of its own; it lies, principally in the practice of prudence, in the perfect art of the conduct of life. But ultimate repose cannot be found in this kind of felicity. Vita activa est dispositio ad contemplativam; the ultimate meaning of the active life is to make possible the happiness of contemplation."
Father James Schall, SJ: "One can state the issue succinctly: No political order can be itself healthy unless it has within it those who are not devoted to politics. This is not in any way a denial that politics are important, but it is a denial that they are the most important things in a society. Indeed, a society that makes politics the most important thing is already a totalitarian society, as Aristotle had already implied".