A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life

A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life

von: William Law

Krill Press, 2015

ISBN: 9781518340253 , 630 Seiten

Format: ePUB

Kopierschutz: DRM

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A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life


 

CHAPTER II: AN INQUIRY INTO THE REASON, WHY THE GENERALITY OF CHRISTIANS FALL SO FAR SHORT OF THE HOLINESS AND DEVOTION OF CHRISTIANITY.


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IT MAY now be reasonably inquired, how it comes to pass, that the lives

even of the better sort of people are thus strangely contrary to the

principles of Christianity?

But before I give a direct answer to this, I desire it may also be

inquired, how it comes to pass that swearing is so common a vice among

Christians? It is indeed not yet so common among women, as it is among

men. But among men this sin is so common that perhaps there are more

than two in three that are guilty of it through the whole course of

their lives, swearing more or less, just as it happens, some

constantly, others only now and then as it were by chance.

Now I ask, how comes it, that two in three of the men are guilty of so

gross and profane a sin as this is? There is neither ignorance nor

human infirmity to plead for it; it is against an express commandment,

and the most plain doctrines of our blessed Saviour.

Do but now find the reason why the generality of men live in this

notorious vice, and then you will have found the reason why the

generality even of the better sort of people live so contrary to

Christianity.

Now the reason of common swearing is this; it is because men have not

so much as the intention to please God in all their actions. For let a

man but have so much piety as to intend to please God in all the

actions of his life, as the happiest and best thing in the world, and

then he will never swear more. It will be as impossible for him to

swear, whilst he feels this intention within himself, as it is

impossible for a man that intends to please his prince, to go up and

abuse him to his face.

It seems but a small and necessary part of piety to have such a sincere

intention as this; and that he has no reason to look upon himself as a

disciple of Christ who is not thus far advanced in piety. And yet it is

purely for want of this degree of piety that you see such a mixture of

sin and folly in the lives even of the better sort of people. It is for

want of this intention that you see men that profess religion, yet live

in swearing and sensuality; that you see clergymen given to pride, and

covetousness, and worldly enjoyments. It is for want of this intention,

that you see women that profess devotion, yet living in all the folly

and vanity of dress, wasting their time in idleness and pleasures, and

in all such instances of state and equipage as their estates will

reach. For let but a woman feel her heart full of this intention, and

she will find it as impossible to patch or paint, as to curse or swear;

she will no more desire to shine at balls or assemblies, or make a

figure amongst those that are most finely dressed, than she will desire

to dance upon a rope to please spectators: she will know, that the one

is as far from the wisdom and excellency of the Christian spirit as the

other.

It was this general intention that made the primitive Christians such

eminent instances of piety, and made the goodly fellowship of the

saints, and all the glorious army of martyrs and confessors. And if you

will here stop, and ask yourselves, why you are not as pious as the

primitive Christians were, your own heart will tell you, that it is

neither through ignorance nor inability, but purely because you never

thoroughly intended it. You observe the same Sunday worship that they

did; and you are strict in it, because it is your full intention to be

so. And when you as fully intend to be like them in their ordinary

common life, when you intend to please God in all your actions, you

will find it as possible, as to be strictly exact in the service of the

Church. And when you have this intention to please God in all your

actions, as the happiest and best thing in the world, you will find in

you as great an aversion to everything that is vain and impertinent in

common life, whether of business or pleasure, as you now have to

anything that is profane. You will be as fearful of living in any

foolish way, either of spending your time, or your fortune, as you are

now fearful of neglecting the public worship.

Now, who that wants this general sincere intention, can be reckoned a

Christian? And yet if it was among Christians, it would change the

whole face of the world: true piety, and exemplary holiness, would be

as common and visible, as buying and selling, or any trade in life.

Let a clergyman be but thus pious, and he will converse as if he had

been brought up by an Apostle; he will no more think and talk of noble

preferment, than of noble eating, or a glorious chariot. He will no

more complain of the frowns of the world, or a small cure, or the want

of a patron, than he will complain of the want of a laced coat, or a

running horse. Let him but intend to please God in all his actions, as

the happiest and best thing in the world, and then he will know, that

there is nothing noble in a clergyman, but a burning zeal for the

salvation of souls; nor anything poor in his profession, but idleness

and a worldly spirit.

Again, let a tradesman but have this intention, and it will make him a

saint in his shop; his every-day business will be a course of wise and

reasonable actions, made holy to God, by being done in obedience to His

will and pleasure. He will buy and sell, and labour and travel, because

by so doing he can do some good to himself and others. But then, as

nothing can please God but what is wise, and reasonable, and holy, so

he will neither buy nor sell, nor labour in any other manner, nor to

any other end, but such as may be shown to be wise, and reasonable, and

holy. He will therefore consider, not what arts, or methods, or

application, will soonest make him richer and greater than his

brethren, or remove him from a shop to a life of state and pleasure;

but he will consider what arts, what methods, what application can make

worldly business most acceptable to God, and make a life of trade a

life of holiness, devotion, and piety. This will be the temper and

spirit of every tradesman; he cannot stop short of these degrees of

piety, whenever it is his intention to please God in all his actions,

as the best and happiest thing in the world. And on the other hand,

whoever is not of this spirit and temper in his trade and profession,

and does not carry it on only so far as is best subservient to a wise,

and holy, and heavenly life, it is certain that he has not this

intention; and yet without it, who can be shown to be a follower of

Jesus Christ?

Again, let the gentleman of birth and fortune but have this intention,

and you will see how it will carry him from every appearance of evil,

to every instance of piety and goodness. He cannot live by chance, or

as humour and fancy carry him, because he knows that nothing can please

God but a wise and regular course of life. He cannot live in idleness

and indulgence, in sports and gaming, in pleasures and intemperance, in

vain expenses and high living, because these things cannot be turned

into means of piety and holiness, or made so many...