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A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  391 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
Originally published at the beginning of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, a time when rationalist criticism of religious belief was perhas 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. More than simply articulating a set of rules to live by, La ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published August 13th 2002 by Vintage (first published January 1st 1729)
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Andrea
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
William Law's A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life is the most profoundly challenging, insightful and logical book I have ever read pertaining to my daily life as a Christian. His arguments for the purpose of and motivation for devotion to God (in its many forms) have impacted me in a way that I never would have imagined. I found myself challenged by every chapter and contemplative throughout. Law's arguments touched me intellectually, logically, emotionally, and spiritually. This is not nec ...more
Barry
Sep 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
William Law's "A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life" (1728), deeply influenced the chief actors in the great Evangelical revival in England, George Whitefield and John and Charles Wesley. I first read it while a ministry student in college and have re-read it several times since. It is on my personal list of top 10 life-changing books. A sample of Law is the following on prayer:

"Prayer is the nearest approach to God and the highest enjoyment of him that we are capable of in this life. It is
...more
Kim
Simple but so profound!! It definitely stepped on my toes numerous times because it put so many things into true perspective. Our purpose is to live for the glory of God and that requires a constant spirit of devotion. It requires charity to those that we don't think deserve it (because we don't deserve the charity that God shows us). It requires not neglecting our Christian calling, a calling that all receive, regardless of occupation. Clergy are not to be considered more pious or righteous tha ...more
Pam Nelson
Oct 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books of all time. I reread portions frequently!
Daniel Beasley
Dec 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
As a 17 year old new Christ follower I was blessed to have a pastor who wasn't afraid to encourage me jumping in at the deep end. If memory serves, this was the third book he loaned to me and it helped set a fearless course out into learning from 2000 years of Christian wrestling with God.
Mark Thomas
Feb 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book that is contemporary 200+ years after it was written...
Glen Grunau
Jul 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is probably no one author that has had greater influence over my Christian journey than Dallas Willard. From Willard I learned that the Christian life could not be well lived out of willpower. An inner transformation was required to change my heart and my inner desires before my behaviour could be reliably altered. I always appreciated Willard’s humility, as evident by his frequent claims that his ideas were not original but were found in the writings of numerous ancient historical figures ...more
Jocelyn
Mar 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: religion
A diatribe against nominal Christians. Even though I sympathize with much of what Law says, I find his way of saying it a bit tiresome. I was about to quit reading it and return it to the library but then I came across this line: "[The impious Christian] will sometimes read a book of piety, if it is a short one, if it is much commended for style and language, and she can tell where to borrow it." After that, I had to soldier on for 295 more pages.
Michelle Young
Humbling and practical. Reminded me what frivolous and vain thoughts sometimes consume me!
Aaron Downs
Aug 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Summary:

William Law’s A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life urges believers to consider pursuing piously as a comprehensive life task. His influential work specifically explains and describes devotion, especially in regards to times of prayer. He defines a devout man as one “who lives no longer to his own will, or the way and spirit of the world, but to the sole will of God, who considers God in everything, who serves God in everything, who makes all the parts of his common life parts of piet
...more
Tyler Eason
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a helpful and convicting book. While he writes from a unique and often aberrant theological perspective (Christian perfectionism), Law gives practical steps to take on the path of holiness that are relevant for believers in every walk of life.
Nemo
Jan 08, 2015 added it
Shelves: christianity
William Law in this work reminds me of Leo Tolstoy in his late writings. Both of them write with a limpid style, both make moral arguments that are undeniably logical and rational, both make severe and incisive criticisms of Christendom, and not surprisingly, both were excommunicated.

If a Christian reader tries to see things through Law's eyes, he would find himself in a dream world, where people, himself included, live in a way that defies logic and reason, either sleepwalking through the day
...more
Gregory
Oct 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Christians
Recommended to Gregory by: Discovered it in the Classics
Shelves: favorites
A must read classic.The author has a passion for Christ that is most uncommon for this modern age. With line upon line and precept upon precept, he lays down a solid, biblical foundation for understanding the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Once you take the time to carefully read this book, you will see that the work of sanctification in the believer belongs alone to the person of the Holy Spirit.

More emphasis is placed on the power of the finished work of Christ than on the struggling Chr
...more
Garland Vance
The first several chapters of this book were excellent--worth 6 stars! Law's challenges to Christians centuries ago reads as if he understands current believers. He says that most believers think that the only change in their lives are that they need to introduce devotional practices of prayer & Bible study. Law says that the problem is that we do not desire to please God in all decisions as the best & happiest thing in the world. The next few chapters unpack this & these chapters ar ...more
Lacy
Sep 14, 2007 rated it liked it
I don't claim to have read this cover to cover, but taken in small chunks it's a really interesting study of very dated moral behavior.
Law really hates people who gad away their time visiting friends in the countryside on Sundays, for instance. And women who care far too much about their own finery and silk dresses.
However, among all the leisure class admonishments are some really good, substantial beliefs about the importance of upholding morality for its own sake, not just for show - which pr
...more
Dad Bowers
Nov 08, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: devotional
It was worth reading. Law has a dated 1700's style, for sure, but he expresses well our serious need for a devotional life and he gives lots of practical tips and reasons for this. I probably won't follow his method of dividing the day into various hours of prayer. He seeks that we each remain devoted to Jesus Christ all our days: a most worthy goal in life.
Jennifer
Sep 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Theh title of this encompasses the content of this book, with an emphasis on serious. My conscience was certainly piqued at times. This book was written in the early 1700s, so some of the examples seem trite for our modern age. But his chapters on prayer and worship are worth the read.
James Valentine
“If you have not chosen the kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead.”
― William Law
Bill
Jun 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps a bit too serious in places, but a good reminder not to neglect our work on this planet and the preparation thereof.
Ircolle Colle
Apr 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Excellent read for Lent. Short chapters (~5 pages each) make for a great daily devotion. Extremely rich, challenging, and thought provoking.
Richard Gray
Apr 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
who I am and who I am not in the greater scheme.
Allison
Mar 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction-read
Extremely Legalistic! However, to be fair, the author is a high-church Anglican from the early 18th century. This book was originally published in England in 1728!

If you can wade through all of the verbosity and heavy-handedness, there is some good information on fixed-hour prayer.
Kari Greenaway
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It took me a while to read this book. The word usage was quite exhausting at times. I really enjoyed it overall and feel a deeper desire to continue towards a lifestyle of holiness. Many chapters gave me the impression that I was reading nuggets of wisdom, and I finished this a.m with a strong desire to conform to the many suggestions through-out the book. Glad I read it to the end. I think a lot of self-reflection is necessary whilst reading this to fully utilize the wisdom therein.
Linda
May 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This abridgement of the original text was edited by a group of laymen in the 1950s to make it more readable and accessible to the 20th century reader. William Law's book, published in England in 1728, was written in a time and society in which just about everyone professed to be a Christian and attended church. But Law observed that there were many nominal Christians who appeared to value the teachings of the Bible and attended church on Sundays but were not serious about living out Christ's tea ...more
Perry Martin
Jul 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
William Law (1686-1761) wrote A Serious Call in 1729, this book was published in Audiobook form by Christian Audio for the first time 2/2014 and Narrated by Maurice England. The narration of this 13 hour audiobook in understandable English/Old English makes this book accessible to all who can hear for the first time.

Law's book is broken into seven areas according to my listening of this Audiobook. Although Piety (Devotion or Religion) and Prayer are themes that run throughout the entire book the
...more
Laura
Jan 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good book, although it takes a while to get in to. I really began to enjoy it by the time I reached chapter 10. I recommend this book to anyone (who's already a Christian...preferably a pretty mature Christian) who enjoys a challenge. Because this book was originally written (I think in the 1700s) you have to really digest what Law is saying because the language is different from today's. Also, Law challenges the reader to strive to reach the next level in their Christian walk and form ...more
John
Oct 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Sharp and clean like the blue end of a blow torch. William Law inflames the part of me that hates God, sapientia carnis. He clears the fog away from so much of what is spoken about holiness. William Law will not allow you to fool yourself. I imagine that his works are probably not all that well read these days, not even among (perhaps especially not among) Anglican ministers. What a voice!

The reason why I docked a star is because at times it can lack a certain Godly charm, a healthy gaiety, the
...more
Phillip
Oct 29, 2014 rated it liked it
The title of the work is very appropriate, for the call is serious and the life to which one is called devout and holy. As other reviewers have remarked, Law's style is difficult at first for the twenty-first century reader, but by no means unintelligible. In fact, his constant repetition and various analyses of aspects of devotion from slightly different angles help rather than hinder. He does sound very legalistic at times, but is concerned for constancy and genuineness of inward heart-devotio ...more
Iris
"The Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life" takes effort to read. William Law is wordy, considers his points from many angles, and sounds legalistic. Law argues that it is in our best interest to live the godliest lives possible. He paints a picture of what this would look like to him. While he makes some good points, the first part of the book was a struggle to get through. Thankfully the second part is worth the struggle. Most of the gems are hidden in the second half of the book when he turn ...more
Lacy Katherine
Sep 14, 2007 rated it liked it
I don't claim to have read this cover to cover, but taken in small chunks it's a really interesting study of very dated moral behavior.
Law really hates people who gad away their time visiting friends in the countryside on Sundays, for instance. And women who care far too much about their own finery and silk dresses.
However, among all the leisure class admonishments are some really good, substantial beliefs about the importance of upholding morality for its own sake, not just for show - which pr
...more
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William Law 1 8 Apr 30, 2009 02:51PM  
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William Law (1686 – 9 April 1761) was a Church of England priest who lost his position at Emmanuel College, Cambridge when his conscience would not allow him to take the required oath of allegiance to the first Hanoverian monarch, George I. Previously William Law had given his allegiance to the House of Stuart and is sometimes considered a second-generation non-juror (an earlier generation of non- ...more
More about William Law...
“Grant that I may worship and pray unto Thee with as much reverence and godly fear, as if I saw the heavens open and all the angels that stand around Thy throne. Amen.” 7 likes
“If you will here stop and ask yourselves 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 purely because you never thoroughly intended it.” 7 likes
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