A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life by William Law

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Originally published in 1728 at the beginning of the Enlightenment, when rational criticism of religious belief was at its peak, William Law’s work succeeded in inspiring the most cynical men of the age with its arguments in favor of a spiritual life. Proclaiming that God does not merely forgive our disobedience, but directly calls us to obedience and to a life completely centered in him, Law declares, “If you will here stop and ask yourself why you are not as pious as the primitive Christians were, your own heart will tell you that it is neither through ignorance nor inability, but because you never thoroughly intended it.” Law’s prose is packed with vivid imagery and illustrative anecdotes that both reveal what it means to lead a Christian life and unmask the perversion of Christian tenets by secular and spiritual establishments. This challenge of conventional piety and emphasis on Christian perfection directly influenced literary critic Samuel Johnson and historian Edward Gibbon, as well as Cardinal John Henry Newman. John Wesley called Law's work one of three books that accounted for his first “explicit resolve to be all devoted to God.” Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, Henry Venn, William Wilberforce, and Thomas Scott each described reading the book as a major turning point in his life.
 

About William Law

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William Law (1686-1761), English cleric and theological writer, was born at Kings Cliffe, Northamptonshire. The first of Law's controversial works was "Three Letters to the Bishop of Bangor" (1717), which were considered by friend and foe alike as one of the most powerful contributions to the Bangorian controversy on the high church side. Law's next controversial work was Remarks on Mandeville's Fable of the Bees (1723), in which he vindicates morality on the highest grounds; for pure style, caustic wit and lucid argument this work is remarkable; it was enthusiastically praised by John Sterling, and republished by F. D. Maurice. Law's Case of Reason (1732), in answer to Tindal's Christianity as old as the Creation is to a great extent an anticipation of Bishop Butler's famous argument in the Analogy. In this work Law shows himself at least the equal of the ablest champion of Deism. His Letters to a Lady inclined to enter the Church of Rome are excellent specimens of the attitude of a high Anglican towards Romanism. His controversial writings have not received due recognition, partly because they were opposed to the drift of his times, partly because of his success in other fields.
 
Published February 10, 2005 by Old LandMark Publishing. 544 pages
Genres: Religion & Spirituality, History, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction, Travel, Law & Philosophy, Crafts, Hobbies & Home, Cooking, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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William Law, the 18th-century Anglican priest who heavily influenced the theology of John and Charles Wesley, lambastes pious hypocrisy and the corruption of the church in A Serious Call to a Devou

Aug 12 2002 | Read Full Review of A Serious Call to a Devout an...

Publishers Weekly

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William Law, the 18th-century Anglican priest who heavily influenced the theology of John and Charles Wesley, lambastes pious hypocrisy and the corruption of the church in A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, the latest reissue in Vintage' s Spiritual Classics series.

| Read Full Review of A Serious Call to a Devout an...

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