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Number of Pages: 300
Vendor: Hendrickson Publishers
Publication Date: 2009
|Dimensions: 9 X 6 (inches)|
Originally published in 1728 at the beginning of the Enlightenment, when rational criticism of religious belief was at its peak, William Law's A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life succeeded in inspiring the most cynical men of the age with its arguments in favor of a spiritual life.
Law's 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 it one of three books that accounted for his first "explicit resolve to be all devoted to God." Also, Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, Henry Venn, William Wilberforce, and Thomas Scott each described reading the book as a major turning point in his life.
More than simply a set of rules to live by, Law's book examines what it means to lead a Christian life and criticizes the perversion of Christian tenets by secular and spiritual establishments. Proclaiming that God does not merely forgive our disobedience, but directly calls us to obedience and to a life completely centered in him, he chides, "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 fresh and vivid as he illustrates the Christian life as one lived completely for God. His thoughts on prayer, personal holiness, stewardship, pride and humility, and service to the poor will resonate with contemporary readers.
William Law (1686-1761) was educated at Cambridge, took a teaching position there, and was also ordained in the Church of England. He lost his access to university venues and the parish ministry when he was unable to swear allegiance to the Hanoverian dynasty that replaced the Stuarts as the rulers of Great Britain. Although forbidden the use of pulpit and lecture hall, he preached through his books, including Christian Perfection, The Grounds and Reasons of Christian Regeneration, Spirit of Prayer, and Spirit of Love.
David GoughAlexandria, VAAge: 55-65Gender: male4 Stars Out Of 5A strong challenge to modern "spirituality"May 10, 2014David GoughAlexandria, VAAge: 55-65Gender: maleQuality: 3Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4It is difficult to know just how to characterize the theology of William Law. Indeed, it seems to have evolved throughout his lifetime. A defrocked Episcopalian minister, he later wielded influence on the Wesley brothers and the early formation of Methodism, as well as Samuel Johnson and the Enlightenment movement. In addition he was closely identified with the noted historian, Edward Gibbon. He was strongly opinionated and outspoken in his writing on what later became known as "the deeper life." In his later years he embraced the teachings of Jacob Behman and drifted toward a mystic brand of theology, one that he had earlier criticized. "A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life" was written when Law was in his early-40s. Although it alludes to Scripture, its lack of direct references are perhaps a "tip-off" of the more "feeling"-oriented theological posture he would later espouse. Despite these observations, the book presents a strong challenge to the laissez-faire spirituality which characterizes much of the Western church today. When Law was still a student at Cambridge he drew up a set of "rules for my future conduct," many of which likely appear in one form or another in this volume. We could all take a page from that example. "A Serious Call..." is at times overstated and its reiterations are somewhat monotonous. His use of "characters," through whom many of his points are made, is a helpful literary device that hastens the pace in places. This is a difficult book to navigate, but a slow and thoughtful read will produce fruitful results.
Lois Hennigan5 Stars Out Of 5Great bookMay 28, 2013Lois HenniganI have not finished reading the book, but for what I have completed, it is great.