Thoughts for the Day

Wednesday, 10th April 2024: William Law, Priest and Spiritual writer

Baptism Faith Prayer Resurrection Colossians 2

Reading : Verses from Colossians, Chapter 2

William Law

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy that is not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority. When you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

(Lectionary, New Revised Lectionary)


Today we celebrate the life of William Law, born in 1686, who became a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. However, in 1714 at the death of Queen Anne, he became a 'non-Juror', that is to say, he found himself unable to take the oath of allegiance to the Hanoverian dynasty and so was unable to serve as a priest. Forbidden the use of the pulpit and the lecture-hall, he preached through his books. His most famous work was 'A Serious Call To a Devout and Holy Life''.

This book was extremely influential. Samuel Johnson said "I took up Law's Serious Call, expecting to find it a dull book .. but this was the first occasion of my thinking in earnest of religion." John Wesley called it one of three books which accounted for his first " resolve to be all devoted to God", and later "a treatise which will hardly be excelled, either for beauty of expression or for depth of thought." Men like Charles Wesley and William Wilberforce (of anti-slavery fame) described reading the book as a major turning-point in their lives.

Sometimes we fall into the trap of supposing that our salvation depends on us being sufficiently virtuous, and we need to be reminded that salvation is the gift of God and cannot be earned or deserved. On the other hand we can fall into the opposite error of supposing that the mercy of God means we will be forgiven anyway so we need not bother to try and be good! Law saw this as the chief danger in his own time. He undertook to remind fellow Christians of the importance of both sides of what Jesus said to a sinner (John 8:11): "I do not condemn you; go and sin no more."


O God,
by whose grace your servant William Law,
kindled with The fire of your love,
became a burning and shining light in your Church:
Grant that we also may be aflame
with the spirit of love and discipline,
and may ever walk before you as children of light.

Follow Up Thoughts

I have put the whole of 'A serious call to a devout and holy life' by William Law here. It is very dense reading for us, but you might like to look at the first three short paragraphs on the subject of prayer. It puts most of our prayer lives to shame.

You might also like to look at this short article as to why Christians should study their bible (so congratulations to those who read these Thoughts - all of us are studying!):

Return to index