William Law, Priest

10 April -- Lesser Festival -- Pastor -- White

Born at Kings Cliffe in Northamptonshire in 1686, William Law was educated at Emmanuel College Cambridge and, after ordination as a deacon, became a fellow of the College in 1711. When George I came to the throne in 1714, William declined to take the Oath of Allegiance, being a member of the Non-Juror party who believed the anointed but deposed monarch James II and his heirs should occupy the throne. He lost his fellowship but in 1728 he was made a priest and in the same year published A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, which much influenced such people as Samuel Johnson and John and Charles Wesley. In it he stresses the moral virtues, a personal prayer life and asceticism. He returned to Kings Cliffe in 1740, where he led a life of devotion and simplicity and caring for the poor. He remained there the rest of his life and died on this day in the year 1761.


Almighty God,
who called your servant William Law
to a devout and holy life:
grant that by your spirit of Love
and through faithfulness in prayer
we may find the way to divine knowledge
and so come to see the hidden things of God;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

A reading from the Book of Tobit.

I performed many acts of charity to my kindred, those of my tribe: I would give my food to the hungry and my clothing to the naked; and if I saw the dead body of any of my people thrown out behind the wall of Nineveh, I would bury it. I also buried any whom the king put to death when he came fleeing from Judea in those days of judgement that the king of heaven executed upon him because of his blasphemies. For in his anger he put to death many Israelites; but I would secretly remove the bodies and bury them.

This is the word of the Lord.         Tobit 1. 16b-18a

Responsorial Psalm

RThe free gift of God is eternal life
[for the Lord redeems his people].
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits. R

He forgives all your sins
and heals all your infirmities;
he redeems your life from the grave
and crowns you with mercy and loving-kindness. R

He satisfies you with good things,
and your youth is renewed like an eagle's.
The Lord executes righteousness
and judgement for all who are oppressed. R         From Psalm 103

A reading from the Letter of Paul to the Romans.

When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is the word of the Lord.         Romans 6. 20-23

Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke.

Jesus said to the crowds, "No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar, but on the lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light; but if it is not healthy, your body is full of darkness. Therefore consider whether the light in you is not darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be as full of light as when a lamp gives you light with its rays."

This is the gospel of Christ.         Luke 11. 33-36

Post Communion

God of truth,
whose Wisdom set her table
and invited us to eat the bread and drink the wine
   of the kingdom:
help us to lay aside all foolishness
and to live and walk in the way of insight,
that we may come with your servant William Law
   to the eternal feast of heaven;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.