April 10: William Law, Priest, 1761
April 10, 2011 17 Comments
Welcome to the Holy Women, Holy Men blog! We invite you to read about this commemoration, use the collect and lessons in prayer, whether individually or in corporate worship, then tell us what you think. For more information about this project, click here.
“If we are to follow Christ, it must be in our common way of spending every day. If we are to live unto God at any time or in any place, we are to live unto him in all times and in all places. If we are to use anything as the gift of God, we are to use everything as his gift.” So wrote William Law in 1728 in A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life.
This quiet schoolmaster of Putney, England, could hardly be considered a revolutionary, yet his book had near-revolutionary repercussions. His challenge to take Christian living very seriously received more enthusiastic response than he could ever have imagined, especially in the lives of Henry Venn, George Whiteﬁeld, and John Wesley, all of whom he strongly inﬂuenced. More than any other man, William Law laid the foundation for the religious revival of the eighteenth century, the Evangelical Movement in England, and the Great Awakening in America.
Law came to typify the devout parson in the eyes of many. His life was characterized by simplicity, devotion, and works of charity. Because he was a Non-Juror, who refused to swear allegiance to the House of Hanover, he was deprived of the usual means of making a living as a clergyman in the Church of England. He therefore worked as a tutor to the father of Edward Gibbon, the historian, from 1727 to 1737. He organized schools and homes for the poor. He stoutly defended the Sacraments and Scriptures against attacks of the Deists. He spoke out eloquently against the warfare of his day. His richly inspired sermons and writings have gained him a permanent place in Christian literature.
I O God, by whose grace thy servant William Law, enkindled with the ﬁre of thy love, became a burning and shining light in thy Church: Grant that we also may be aﬂame with the spirit of love and discipline, and may ever walk before thee as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
II O God, by whose grace your servant William Law, kindled with the ﬂame 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 walk before you as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
Psalm 103:1-4, 13-18
Preface of a Saint (2)
From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.
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We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?
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