Short pithy gems from William Law

(1686 – 1761)


If our life is not a course of humility, self-denial, renunciation of the world, poverty of spirit, and heavenly affection—we do not live the lives of Christians.

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He who has learned to pray—has learned the greatest secret of a holy and happy life.

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We may justly condemn ourselves as the greatest sinners we know—because we know more of the folly of our own heart than we do of other people's.

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Humility is nothing else but a right judgment of ourselves.

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He who complains of the weather—complains of the God who ordained the weather!

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SELF is the root, the tree, and the branches of all the evils of our fallen state.

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Prayer is the nearest approach to God and the highest enjoyment of Him, that we are capable of in this life.

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Feasts and business and pleasure and enjoyments seem great things to us, while we think of nothing else; but as soon as we add death to them—they all sink into an equal littleness.

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Saving grace draws us out of the vanity of time—into the riches of eternity!

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There is nothing that makes us love a man, so much as praying for him.

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This, and this alone, is Christianity: a universal holiness in every part of life, a heavenly wisdom in all our actions, not conforming to the spirit and temper of the world—but turning all worldly enjoyments into means of piety and devotion to God.

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When you begin to pray, meditation on the attributes of God will make you sensible of His greatness and power.

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The greatest saint in the world is not he who prays most or fasts most; it is not he who gives alms, or is most eminent for temperance, chastity or justice. It is he who is most thankful to God.

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The Christian life is a separation of our souls from worldly tempers, vain indulgences, and unnecessary cares.

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All people desire what they believe will make them happy. If a person is not full of desire for God—then we can only conclude that he is engaged with another happiness.

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If you attempt to talk with a dying man about sports or business, he is no longer interested. He now sees other things as more important. People who are dying recognize what we often forget—that we are standing on the brink of another world!

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As a Christian should consider every place as holy, because God is there. In the same way, he should look upon every part of his life as a matter of holiness, because it is offered unto God. Worldly business is to be made holy unto the Lord, by being done as a service unto Him, and in conformity to His Divine will.

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Man needs to be saved from his own wisdom as much as from his own righteousness—for they produce one and the same corruption. Nothing saves a man from his own righteousness, but that which delivers him from his own wisdom.

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

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All that is sweet, delightful, and amiable in this world—in the serenity of the air, the fineness of seasons, the joy of light, the melody of sounds, the beauty of colors, the fragrance of smells, the splendor of precious stones—is nothing else but Heaven breaking through the veil of this world.

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The shortest, surest way to all happiness—is to make it a rule to thank and praise God for everything that happens to you.

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If you will stop and ask yourself why you are not as pious as the first Christians were, your own heart will tell you that it is neither through ignorance nor inability—but purely because you never thoroughly intended it.

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The merit of others is not to be the rule of our charity—but we are to do acts of kindness to those who least deserve it.

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Devotion signifies a life given, or devoted, to God. He therefore is a devout man, who lives no longer for his own will, or the way and spirit of the world—but solely to the will of God, who considers God in everything, who serves God in everything, who makes all the parts of his common life holy—by doing everything in the name of God, and unto His glory.

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If a man will so live as to show that he feels and believes the most fundamental doctrines of Christianity—then he must live above the world.

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Christian maturity does not consist in any particular set of duties—but in holy and pious conduct in every state of life.

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You can have no greater sign of confirmed pride—than when you think you are humble enough.

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If contempt of the world and heavenly affection are necessary tempers of Christians—then it is necessary that these tempers appear in the whole course of their lives, in their manner of using the world.

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He who is endeavoring to subdue, and root out of his mind, all those passions of pride, envy and selfish ambition, which religion opposes—is doing more to make himself happy, even in this life—than he who is contriving means to indulge them.