To Make Us Good

From A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, 20. (1729)

Let us consider the love which we owe to our neighbor. It is to love him as ourselves, that is, to have all those sentiments toward him which we have toward ourselves, to wish him everything we may lawfully wish for ourselves, to be glad for every good and sorry for every evil that falls to him, and to be ready to do for him all such acts of kindness as we are always ready to do for ourselves… We are obliged to this love in imitation of God’s goodness, that we may be children of the Father who is in heaven who wills the happiness of all his creatures and makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good.

Our redemption by Jesus Christ calls us to the exercise of this love who came from heaven and laid down his life out of love to the whole sinful world… God loves us not because we are wise and good and holy, but in pity towards us… He loves us in order to make us good. Our love, therefore, must take this course, not looking for or requiring merit of our brothers and sisters but pitying their disorders and wishing them all the good that they want and are capable of receiving.

William Law (1686-1761) was an English Anglican priest and spiritual writer. He lost his position as a fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge when he refused to take an oath of allegiance to King George I, and worked for most of his life as a private tutor. He wrote a series of influential treatises on Christian discipleship and mysticism, urging a life of holiness. A Serious Call was his most influential work, and deeply influenced many later church leaders, especially John Wesley and John Keble. He is commemorated on the liturgical calendars of several Anglican churches on dates around his date of death, April 9. This adaptation of the text is from A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, ed. by P. G. Stanwood (New York: Paulist Press, 1978)


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