serious call to a devout and holy life tagged posts

William Law on Money, pt 2

A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life

William Law on Money – In his classic book “A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life” Law tackles the issue of faith and money head-on.  Does the Bible promote the Prosperity Gospel? Are we to seek more money and comfort for ourselves?  Get ready to be challenged as you read William Law’s writings…
Chapter 7
How the imprudent use of an estate corrupts all the tempers of the mind, and fills the heart with poor and ridiculous passions, through the whole course of life; represented in the character of Flavia.

IT HAS ALREADY been observed, that a prudent and religious care is to be used in the manner of spending our money or estate, because the manner of spending our estate makes so great a part of our common life, and is so much the business of every day, that according as we are wise, or imprudent, in this respect, the whole course of our lives will be rendered either very wise or very full of folly.
Persons that are well affected to religion, that receive instructions of piety with pleasure and satisfaction, often wonder how it comes to pass that they make no greater progress in that religion which they so much admire.
Now the reason of it is this: it is because religion lives only in their head, but something else has possession of their heart; and therefore they continue from year to year mere admirers and praisers of piety, without ever coming up to the reality and perfection of its precepts.
If it be asked why religion does not get possession of their hearts, the reason is this; it is not because they live in gross sins, or debaucheries, for their regard to religion preserves them from such disorders; but it is because their hearts are constantly employed, perverted, and kept in a wrong state by the indiscreet use of such things as are lawful to be used.
The use and enjoyment of their estate is lawful, and therefore it never comes into their heads to imagine any great danger from that quarter. They never reflect, that there is a vain and imprudent use of their estate, which, though it does not destroy like gross sins, yet so disorders the heart, and supports it in such sensuality and dulness, such pride and vanity, as makes it incapable of receiving the life and spirit of piety.

 



The above extract is from the beginning of chapter 7 of “A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life” by William Law.

You can find William Law’s book A SERIOUS CALL TO A DEVOUT AND HOLY LIFE in it’s entirety in the fantastic eBook collection: “The Complete Works of William Law”

TITLE: THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM LAW  (17-in-1)

AUTHOR: William Law
CATEGORY: THEOLOGY, CHRISTIAN LIVING
Formats Available:

 Kindle eBook

 Kobo/Sony eBook

Wesley stated that his ‘Serious Account To A Devout And Holy Life’ was “a treatise which will hardly be excelled, if it be equalled, either for beauty of expression or for depth of thought.”
The famous devotional writer, Andrew Murray said, regarding Law’s Address To The Clergy, “I do not know where to find anywhere else the same clear and powerful statement of the truth which the Church needs at the present day.”

 


William Law’s work “A SERIOUS CALL TO A DEVOUT AND HOLY LIFE” also available in:

 

TITLE: THE HOLINESS COLLECTION  (7-in-1)

AUTHOR: various
CATEGORY: THEOLOGY, CHRISTIAN LIVING
Formats Available:

 Kindle eBook

 Kobo/Sony eBook

This fantastic compilation brings together some of the greatest classics on HOLINESS in Christian life and ministry. Learn the secret of walking in God’s presence and power from those whose writings have stirred and challenged countless Christians throughout history.

The Top 7 Classics on HOLINESS contains the full texts of:
• Purity of Heart – by William Booth (1902), 10 chapters.
• Heart Talks on Holiness – by Samuel Logan Brengle (1897), 27 chapters.
• Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots – by J. C. Ryle (1879), 21 chapters.
• God’s Way of Holiness – by Horatius Bonar (1864), 9 chapters.
• A Plain Account of Christian Perfection – by John Wesley (1777), entire book.
• A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life – by William Law (1729), 24 chapters.
• The Rules and Exercises of Holy Living – by Jeremy Taylor (1650), 27 sections.

 



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William Law on the use of Money

William Law on the use of Money

william law on the use of money
A few hundred years ago William Law published his most famous work, “A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life.”  This book was to go on and have a profound effect on countless people and played an important role in the life and ministry of John Wesley.
     Law’s stated intent was (as is obvious from the title) to call people to a Christianity that went deeper than lip-service, towards a holy devotion that actually affected their entire lives.  More than a dry theological read, however, he creatively used stories of various people and the effect that devotion (or lack of it) made in their day-to-day lives.
One of the topics he touched on was the use of money and possessions – something still very relevant to our own day and age.  While written in 1728, perhaps we will have ears to hear the changes we need to make in our own lives today?  He brings classic arguments in regards to the Prosperity Gospel teaching of today.
Below is chapter 6 of William Law’s book that touches on this important topic:
* Note, emphasis (bold/italic) is mine.

 



A SERIOUS CALL TO A DEVOUT AND HOLY LIFE,   CHAPTER 6:   

Containing the great obligations, and the great advantages of making a wise and religious use of our estates and fortunes.

AS THE HOLINESS of Christianity consecrates all states and employments of life unto God, as it requires us to aspire after an universal obedience, doing and using everything as the servants of God, so are we more specially obliged to observe this religious exactness in the use of our estates and fortunes.
The reason of this would appear very plain, if we were only to consider, that our estate is as much the gift of God, as our eyes or our hands, and is no more to be buried or thrown away at pleasure, than we are to put out our eyes, or throw away our limbs as we please.
But, besides this consideration, there are several other great and important reasons why we should be religiously exact in the use of our estates.

First, Because the manner of using our money or spending our estate enters so far into the business of every day, and makes so great a part of our common life, that our common life must be much of the same nature as our common way of spending our estate. If reason and religion govern us in this, then reason and religion have got great hold of us; but if humour, pride, and fancy, are the measures of our spending our estate, then humour, pride, and fancy, will have the direction of the greatest part of our life.
Secondly, Another great reason for devoting all our estate to right uses, is this: because it is capable of being used to the most excellent purposes, and is so great a means of doing good. If we waste it we do not waste a trifle, that signifies little, but we waste that which might be made as eyes to the blind, as a husband to the widow, as a father to the orphan; we waste that which not only enables us to minister worldly comforts to those that are in distress, but that which might purchase for ourselves everlasting treasures in Heaven. So that if we part with our money in foolish ways, we part with a great power of comforting our fellow-creatures, and of making ourselves forever blessed.
If there be nothing so glorious as doing good, if there is nothing that makes us so like to God, then nothing can be so glorious in the use of our money, as to use it all in works of love and goodness, making ourselves friends, and fathers, and benefactors, to all our fellow-creatures, imitating the Divine love, and turning all our power into acts of generosity, care, and kindness to such as are in need of it.
     If a man had eyes, and hands, and feet, that he could give to those that wanted them; if he should either lock them up in a chest, or please himself with some needless or ridiculous use of them, instead of giving them to his brethren that were blind and lame, should we not justly reckon him an inhuman wretch? If he should rather choose to amuse himself with furnishing his house with those things, than to entitle himself to an eternal reward, by giving them to those that wanted eyes and hands, might we not justly reckon him mad?
Now money has very much the nature of eyes and feet; if we either lock it up in chests, or waste it in needless and ridiculous expenses upon ourselves, whilst the poor and the distressed want it for their necessary uses; if we consume it in the ridiculous ornaments of apparel, whilst others are starving in nakedness; we are not far from the cruelty of him, that chooses rather to adorn his house with the hands and eyes than to give them to those that want them. If we choose to indulge ourselves in such expensive enjoyments as have no real use in them, such as satisfy no real want, rather than to entitle ourselves to an eternal reward, by disposing of our money well, we are guilty of his madness, that rather chooses to lock up eyes and hands, than to make himself forever blessed, by giving them to those that want them. For after we have satisfied our own sober and reasonable wants, all the rest of our money is but like spare eyes or hands; it is something that we cannot keep to ourselves without being foolish in the use of it, something that can only be used well, by giving it to those that want it.
     Thirdly, If we waste our money, we are not only guilty of wasting a talent which God has given us, we are not only guilty of making that useless, which is so powerful a means of doing good, but we do ourselves this further harm, that we turn this useful talent into a powerful means of corrupting ourselves; because so far as it is spent wrong, so far it is spent in support of some wrong temper, in gratifying some vain and unreasonable desires, in conforming to those fashions, and pride of the world, which, as Christians and reasonable men, we are obliged to renounce.
As wit and fine parts cannot be trifled away, and only lost, but will expose those that have them into greater follies, if they are not strictly devoted to piety; so money, if it is not used strictly according to reason and religion, can not only be trifled away, but it will betray people into greater follies, and make them live a more silly and extravagant life, than they could have done without it. If, therefore, you do not spend your money in doing good to others, you must spend it to the hurt of yourself. You will act like a man, that should refuse to give that as a cordial to a sick friend, though he could not drink it himself without inflaming his blood. For this is the case of superfluous money; if you give it to those that want it, it is a cordial; if you spend it upon yourself in something that you do not want, it only inflames and disorders your mind, and makes you worse than you would be without it.
Consider again the forementioned comparison; if the man that would not make a right use of spare eyes and hands, should, by continually trying to use them himself, spoil his own eyes and hands, we might justly accuse him of still greater madness.
Now this is truly the case of riches spent upon ourselves in vain and needless expenses; in trying to use them where they have no real use, nor we any real want, we only use them to our great hurt, in creating unreasonable desires, in nourishing ill tempers, in indulging our passions, and supporting a worldly, vain turn of mind. For high eating and drinking, fine clothes, and fine houses, state and equipage, carefree pleasures, and diversions, do all of them naturally hurt and disorder our hearts; they are the food and nourishment of all the folly and weakness of our nature, and are certain means to make us vain and worldly in our tempers. They are all of them the support of something, that ought not to be supported; they are contrary to that sobriety and piety of heart which relishes Divine things; they are like so many weights upon our minds, that make us less able, and less inclined, to raise up our thoughts and affections to the things that are above.
  So that money thus spent is not merely wasted or lost, but it is spent to bad purposes, and miserable effects, to the corruption and disorder of our hearts, and to the making us less able to live up to the sublime doctrines of the Gospel. It is but like keeping money from the poor, to buy poison for ourselves.
For so much as is spent in the vanity of dress, may be reckoned so much laid out to fix vanity in our minds. So much as is laid out for idleness and indulgence, may be reckoned so much given to render our hearts dull and sensual. So much as is spent in state and equipage, may be reckoned so much spent to dazzle your own eyes, and render you the idol of your own imagination. And so in everything, when you go from reasonable wants, you only support some unreasonable temper, some turn of mind, which every good Christian is called upon to renounce.
So that on all accounts, whether we consider our fortune as a talent, and trust from God, or the great good that it enables us to do, or the great harm that it does to ourselves, if idly spent; on all these great accounts it appears, that it is absolutely necessary to make reason and religion the strict rule of using all our fortune.
Every exhortation in Scripture to be wise and reasonable, satisfying only such wants as God would have satisfied; every exhortation to be spiritual and heavenly, pressing after a glorious change of our nature; every exhortation to love our neighbour as ourselves, to love all mankind as God has loved them, is a command to be strictly religious in the use of our money. For none of these tempers can be complied with, unless we be wise and reasonable, spiritual and heavenly, exercising a brotherly love, a godlike charity, in the use of all our fortune. These tempers, and this use of our worldly goods, is so much the doctrine of all the New Testament, that you cannot read a chapter without being taught something of it. I shall only produce one remarkable passage of Scripture, which is sufficient to justify all that I have said concerning this religious use of all our fortune.

“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me . . . Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. These shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” [Matt. xxv. 31-64]

     I have quoted this passage at length, because if one looks at the way of the world, one would hardly think that Christians had ever read this part of Scripture. For what is there in the lives of Christians, that looks as if their salvation depended upon these good works? And yet the necessity of them is here asserted in the highest manner, and pressed upon us by a lively description of the glory and terrors of the day of judgment.
Some people, even of those who may be reckoned virtuous Christians, look upon this text only as a general recommendation of occasional works of charity; whereas it shows the necessity not only of occasional charities now and then, but the necessity of such an entire charitable life, as is a continual exercise of all such works of charity, as we are able to perform…
There is no middle way to be taken, any more than there is a middle way betwixt pride and humility, or temperance and intemperance. If you do not strive to fulfil all charitable works, if you neglect any of them that are in your power, and deny assistance to those that want what you can give, let it be when it will, or where it will, you number yourself amongst those that want Christian charity. Because it is as much your duty to do good with all that you have, and to live in the continual exercise of good works, as it is your duty to be temperate in all that you eat and drink.
Hence also appears the necessity of renouncing all those foolish and unreasonable expenses, which the pride and folly of mankind have made so common and fashionable in the world. For if it is necessary to do good works, as far as you are able, it must be as necessary to renounce those needless ways of spending money which render you unable to do works of charity.
You must therefore no more conform to these ways of the world than you must conform to the vices of the world; you must no more spend with those that idly waste their money as their own humour leads them, than you must drink with the drunken, or indulge yourself with the epicure: because a course of such expenses is no more consistent with a life of charity than excess in drinking is consistent with a life of sobriety. When, therefore, any one tells you of the lawfulness of expensive apparel, or the innocence of pleasing yourself with costly satisfactions, only imagine that the same person was to tell you, that you need not do works of charity; that Christ does not require you to do good unto your poor brethren, as unto Him; and then you will see the wickedness of such advice. For to tell you that you may live in such expenses, as make it impossible for you to live in the exercise of good works, is the same thing as telling you that you need not have any care about such good works themselves.

 



You can find William Law’s book A SERIOUS CALL TO A DEVOUT AND HOLY LIFE in it’s entirety in the fantastic eBook collection: “The Complete Works of William Law”

TITLE: THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM LAW  (17-in-1)

AUTHOR: William Law
CATEGORY: THEOLOGY, CHRISTIAN LIVING
Formats Available:

 Kindle eBook

 Kobo/Sony eBook

Wesley stated that his ‘Serious Account To A Devout And Holy Life’ was “a treatise which will hardly be excelled, if it be equalled, either for beauty of expression or for depth of thought.”
The famous devotional writer, Andrew Murray said, regarding Law’s Address To The Clergy, “I do not know where to find anywhere else the same clear and powerful statement of the truth which the Church needs at the present day.”

 


William Law’s work “A SERIOUS CALL TO A DEVOUT AND HOLY LIFE” also available in:

 

TITLE: THE HOLINESS COLLECTION  (7-in-1)

AUTHOR: various
CATEGORY: THEOLOGY, CHRISTIAN LIVING
Formats Available:

 Kindle eBook

 Kobo/Sony eBook

This fantastic compilation brings together some of the greatest classics on HOLINESS in Christian life and ministry. Learn the secret of walking in God’s presence and power from those whose writings have stirred and challenged countless Christians throughout history.

The Top 7 Classics on HOLINESS contains the full texts of:
• Purity of Heart – by William Booth (1902), 10 chapters.
• Heart Talks on Holiness – by Samuel Logan Brengle (1897), 27 chapters.
• Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots – by J. C. Ryle (1879), 21 chapters.
• God’s Way of Holiness – by Horatius Bonar (1864), 9 chapters.
• A Plain Account of Christian Perfection – by John Wesley (1777), entire book.
• A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life – by William Law (1729), 24 chapters.
• The Rules and Exercises of Holy Living – by Jeremy Taylor (1650), 27 sections.

 



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