William Law (1686 – 1761) was an English writer. After attending Emmanuel College, Cambridge, he was ordained in 1711. He remained there as a teacher until the accession of George I, when his conscience forbade him to take the oaths of allegiance to the new government, continuing as a simple priest until that too became impossible. He then began to teach privately and write extensively. The reading of Jacob Boehme’s works deeply moved Law, inspiring him to write his mystical works: The Spirit of Prayer, The Way to Divine Knowledge, and The Spirit of Love.
Quotes by William Law…
Now there is but one possible way for man to attain this salvation, or life of God in the soul. There is not one for the Jew, another for a Christian, and a third for the heathen. No; God is one, human nature is one, salvation is one, and the way to it is one; and that is, the desire of the soul turned to God. When this desire is alive, and breaks forth in any creature under heaven, then the lost sheep is found, and the shepherd has it upon his shoulders.
The only useful question in this matter is this: how a man may know that he is in the way of regeneration, that he is spiritually alive, and growing in the inward and new man.
To sum up all in a word: Nothing has separated us from God but our own will, or rather our own will is our separation from God. All the disorder and corruption, and malady of our nature, lies in a certain fixedness of our own will, imagination, and desires, wherein we live to ourselves, are our own center and circumference, act wholly from ourselves, according to our own will, imagination and desires. There is not the smallest degree of evil in us but what arises from this selfishness, because we are thus all in all to ourselves.
The new birth, as signifying only a change of moral behaviour, is not only thus false and absurd in itself, but is also exceedingly prejudicial to true conversion, and saps the foundation of our redemption.
You have no freedom or power of will to assume any holy temper, or take hold of such degrees of goodness, as you have a mind to have… But you have a true and full freedom of will and choice… to leave and give up your helpless self to the operation of God on your soul. This is the truth of the freedom of your will.
From this difference between the new and the old man, which is a difference as real as that between heaven and earth, several lessons of great instruction may be learned.
It is therefore exceedingly good and beneficial to us to discover this dark, disordered fire of the soul, because when rightly known and rightly dealt with, it can as well be the foundation of heaven.
Love is infallible; it has no errors, for all errors are the want of love.
Only let your present and past distress make you feel and acknowledge this twofold great truth: first, that in and of yourself, you are nothing but darkness, vanity, and misery; secondly, that of yourself, you can no more help yourself to light and comfort, than you can create an angel. People at all times can seem to assent to these two truths, but then it is an assent which has no depth or reality, and so is of little or no use, but your condition has opened your heart for a deep and full conviction of these truths. Now give way, I beseech you, to this conviction, and hold these two truths, in the same degree of certainty as you know two and two to be four, and then you are with the prodigal come to yourself, and above half your work is done.
Receive every inward and outward trouble, every disappointment, pain, uneasiness, temptation, darkness, and desolation, with both your hands, as a true opportunity and blessed occasion of dying to self, and entering into a fuller fellowship with your self-denying, suffering savior. Look at no inward or outward trouble in any other view; reject every other thought about it, and then every kind of trial and distress will become the blessed day of your prosperity. Be afraid of seeking or finding comfort in anything but God alone: For that which gives you comfort, takes so much of your heart from God.