William Law (1686–1761) ministered in the Church of England until removed from Emmanuel College, Cambridge, for refusing to take an oath of allegiance to the first Hanoverian monarch, George I. Law served as a simple priest (curate) and when that became impossible without the oath, he went on to teach privately and to write extensively.
His most well know book is A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life (1728). Together with his previous book, A Practical Treatise Upon Christian Perfection (1726), Law would influence individuals as deep and wide as Enlightenment thinkers Dr. Samuel Johnson and the historian Edward Gibbon, and clergymen the likes of John and Charles Wesley and George Whitefield.
His writings also influenced C. S. Lewis.
In his Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, Lewis refers to something Law said that reminded me of people who say the church in the West could benefit from persecution or suffering as experienced elsewhere in the world. Lewis observes,
“William Law remarks that people are merely ‘amusing themselves’ by asking for the patience which a famine or a persecution would call for if, in the meantime, the weather and every other inconvenience sets them grumbling. One must learn to walk before one can run. So here. We — or at least I — shall not be able to adore God on the highest occasions if we have learned no habit of doing so on the lowest.”1
Good point. Does anyone actually believe Christians will worship during a time of imprisonment or persecution when television or the weather keeps them home now?
“Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” – Hebrews 11:36-38.
- C. S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer (Mariner Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2012), 91.