William Law

William
Law
1686
1761

English Author, Cleric, Divine and Theological Writer, Important figure in the Latter Day Saint movement

Author Quotes

A life devoted unto God, looking wholly unto Him in all our actions, and doing all things suitably to His glory, is so far from being dull and uncomfortable, that it creates new comforts in everything that we do.

For your heart is your life, and your life can only be altered by that which is the real working of your heart. And if your prayer is only a form of words, made by the skill of other people, such a prayer can no more change you into a good man, than an actor upon the stage, who speaks kingly language, is thereby made to be a king: whereas one thought, or word, or look, towards God, proceeding from your own heart, can never be without its proper fruit, or fail of doing a real good to your soul. Again, another great and infallible benefit of this kind of prayer is this; it is the only way to be delivered from the deceitfulness of your own hearts.

If there be nothing so glorious as doing good, if there is nothing that makes us so like God, then nothing can be so glorious in the use of our money as to use it all in works of love and goodness.

Next to reading, meditation, and prayer, there is nothing that so secures our hearts from foolish passions, nothing that preserves so holy and wise a frame of mind, as some useful, humble employment of ourselves.

Pray for others in such forms, with such length, importunity, and earnestness, as you use for yourself; and you will find all little, ill-natured passions die away, your heart grow great and generous, delighting in the common happiness of others, as you used only to delight in your own.

The spirit of prayer is a pressing forth of the soul out of this earthly life, it is a stretching with all its desire after the life of God, it is a leaving, as far as it can, all its own spirit, to receive a spirit from above, to be one life, one love, one spirit with Christ in God.

Unreasonable and absurd ways of life, whether in labour or diversion, whether they consume our time or our money, are like unreasonable and absurd prayers, and are as truly an offence to God.

Would you know who is the greatest saint in the world: It is not he who prays most or fasts most, it is not he who gives most alms or is most eminent for temperance, chastity or justice; but it is he who is always thankful to God, who wills everything that God wills, who receives everything as an instance of God’s goodness and has a heart always ready to praise God for it.

A revelation is to be received as coming from God, not because of its internal excellence, or because we judge it to be worthy of God; but because God has declared it to be His in as plain and undeniable a manner as He has declared creation and providence to be His.

God is always present and always working towards the life of the soul and its deliverance from captivity under flesh and blood. But this inward work of God, though never ceasing or altering, is yet always and only hindered by the activity of our own nature and faculties, by bad men through their obedience to earthly passions and by good men through their striving to be good in their own way, by their natural strength and a multiplicity of holy labors and contrivances. Both these sorts of people obstruct the work of God upon their souls. For we can cooperate with God no other way than by submitting to the work of God, and seeking, and leaving ourselves to it.

If we are to live unto God at any time, or in any place, we are to live unto Him at all times and all places. If we are to use anything as the gift of God, we are to use everything as His gift.

No creature can be a child of God but because the goodness of God is in it; nor can it have any union or communion with the goodness of the Deity till its life is the Spirit of Love. This is the one only band of union betwixt God and the creature... Here the necessity is absolute; nothing will do instead of this will; all contrivances of holiness, all forms of religious piety, signify nothing without this will to all goodness. For as the will to all goodness is the whole nature of God, so it must be the whole nature of every service of religion that can be acceptable to him.

Read whatever chapter of Scripture you will, and be ever so delighted with it -- yet it will leave you as poor, as empty and unchanged as it found you unless it has turned you wholly and solely to the Spirit of God, and brought you into full union with and dependence upon Him.

The sun meets not the springing bud that stretches towards him with half the certainty that God, the source of all good, communicates himself to the soul that longs to partake of him.

We are looking for our own virtue, our own piety, our own goodness, and so live on and in our own poverty and weakness -- today pleased and comforted with the seeming firmness and strength of our own pious tempers and fancying ourselves to be somewhat. Tomorrow, fallen into our own mire, we are dejected, but not humbled; we grieve, but it is only the grief of pride at the seeing our perfection not to be such as we had vainly imagined. And thus it will be, till the whole turn of our minds be so changed that we as fully see and know our inability to have any goodness of our own as to have a life of our own.

Would you know who is the greatest saint in the world? It is not he who prays most or fasts most; it is not he who gives most alms or is most eminent for temperance, chastity or justice; but it is he who is always thankful to God, who wills everything that God wills, who receives everything as an instance of God’s goodness and has a heart always ready to praise God for it. Could you therefore work miracles, you could not do more for yourself than by this thankful spirit, for it turns all that it touches into happiness.

A rule that relates even to the smallest part of our life is of great benefit to us, merely as it is a rule.

God seeth different abilities and frailties of men, which may move His goodness to be merciful to their different improvements in virtue.

If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead.

No education can be of true advantage to young women but that which trains them up in humble industry, in great plainness of living, in exact modesty of dress.

Reading is good, hearing is good, conversation and meditation are good; but then, they are only good at times and occasions, in a certain degree, and must be used and governed with such caution as we eat and drink and refresh ourselves, or they will bring forth in us the fruits of intemperance. But the spirit of prayer is for all times and occasions; it is a lamp that is to be always burning, a light to be ever shining: everything calls for it; everything is to be done in it and governed by it, because it is and means and wills nothing else but the totality of the soul -- not doing this or that, but wholly... given up to God to be where and what and how He pleases.

The way to be a man of prayer, and be governed by its spirit, is not to get a book full of prayers; but the best help you can have from a book, is to read one full of such truths, instructions, and awakening informations, as force you to see and know who, and what, and where, you are; that God is your all; and that all is misery, but a heart and life devoted to him. This is the best outward prayer book you can have, as it will turn you to an inward book, and spirit of prayer in your heart, which is a continual longing desire of the heart after God, his divine life, and Holy Spirit. When, for the sake of this inward prayer, you retire at any time of the day, never begin till you know and feel, why and wherefore you are going to pray; and let this why and wherefore, form and direct everything that comes from you, whether it be in thought or in word.

We can all call to mind movements which have begun as pure upsurges of fresh spiritual vitality, breaking through and revolting against the hardened structure of the older body, and claiming, in the name of the Spirit, liberty from outward forms and institutions. And we have seen how rapidly they develop their own forms, their own structures of thought, of language, and of organization. It would surely be a very unbiblical view of human nature and history to think -- as we so often, in our pagan way, do -- that this is just an example of the tendency of all things to slide down from a golden age to an age of iron, to identify the spiritual with the disembodied, and to regard visible structure as equivalent to sin. We must rather recognize here a testimony to the fact that Christianity is, in its very heart and essence, not a disembodied spirituality, but life in a visible fellowship, a life which makes such total claim upon us, and so engages our total powers, that nothing less than the closest and most binding association of men with one another can serve its purpose.

You are to honor, improve, and perfect the spirit that is within you: you are to prepare it for the kingdom of heaven, to nourish it with the love of God and of virtue, to adorn it with good works, and to make it as holy and heavenly as you can.

All outward power that we exercise in the things about us is but a shadow in comparison of that inward power that resides in our will, imagination, and desires; these communicate with eternity and kindle a life which always reaches either Heaven or hell... Here lies the ground of the great efficacy of prayer, which when it is the prayer of the heart, the prayer of faith, has a kindling and creating power, and forms and transforms the soul into everything that the desire reaches after: it has the key to the Kingdom of Heaven and unlocks all its treasures; it opens, extends and moves that in us which has its being and motion in and with the divine nature. and so it brings us into real union and Communion with God.

Author Picture
First Name
William
Last Name
Law
Birth Date
1686
Death Date
1761
Bio

English Author, Cleric, Divine and Theological Writer, Important figure in the Latter Day Saint movement