William Law

William Law (1686–1761) was an English clergyman, noted for his controversial and mystical writings. He is considered one of the great intellectuals of his time. He was born in England in 1686. He graduated from Cambridge University and became a fellow of Emmanuel College in 1711. His Three Letters to the Bishop of Bangor, in 1717, was the first distinct sign that he was an independent religious thinker. He took a stance against the writings of Locke, pitting himself against many of the leading theologians of his day. One of his works, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, allied him with George Berkeley and Joseph Butler and helped to slow the spread of deism. Several of Law’s writings, including Practical Treatise on Christian Perfection, had an early influence on John and Charles Wesley, as well as many others. In 1740, Law settled in Kings Cliffe, where he proceeded to carry out in everyday practice the ideas that he had set down in A Devout and Holy Life. These ideas included charity to the poor, practices of extreme generosity, kindness to animals, and attention to the smaller virtues. Many of his works caused readers to think seriously about Christianity and therefore to accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour. William Law died in 1761 at Kings Cliffe, his powerful and lucid writing style having transformed many.