Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

William Law

English Author, Cleric, Divine and Theological Writer, Important figure in the Latter Day Saint movement

"Be intent upon the perfection of the present day."

"In all the possibility of things there is and can be but one happiness and one misery. The one misery is nature and creature left to itself, the one happiness is the Life, the Light, the Spirit of God, manifested in nature and creature. This is the true meaning of the words of Our Lord: There is but one that is good, and that is God."

"Perpetual inspiration is as necessary to the life of goodness, holiness and happiness as perpetual respiration is necessary to animal life."

"The spiritual life is nothing else but the working of the Spirit of God within us, and therefore our own silence must be a great part of our preparation for it, and much speaking or delight in it will often no small hindrance of that good which we can only have from hearing what the Spirit and voice of God speaketh within us."

"Though God is everywhere present, yet He is only present to thee in the deepest and most central part of thy soul. the natural senses cannot possess God or unite thee to Him; nay, thy inward faculties of understanding, will and memory can only reach after God, but cannot be the place of his habitation in thee. But there is a root or depth of thee from whence all these faculties come forth, as lines from a centre, or as branches from the body of the tree. This depth is the unity, the eternity - I had almost said the infinity - of thy soul; for it is so infinite that nothing can satisfy it or give it rest but the infinity of God."

"The will is that which has all power; it makes heaven and it makes hell; for there is no hell but where the will of the creature is turned from God, nor any heaven but where the will of the creature worketh with God."

"Love is infallible; it has no errors, for all errors are the want of love."

"Religion in the hands of the self, or corrupt nature, serves only to discover vices of a worse kind than in nature left to itself. Hence are all the disorderly passions of religious men, which burn in a worse flame than passions only employed about worldly matters; pride, self-exaltation, hatred and persecution, under a cloak of religious zeal, will sanctify actions which nature, left to itself, would be ashamed to own."

"Every man has an open gate to God in his soul."

"To pretend to devotion without great humility and renunciation of all worldly tempers is to pretend to impossibilities. He that would be devout must first be humble, have a full sense of his own miseries and wants and the vanity of the world, and then his soul will be full of desire after God. A proud, or vain, or worldly-minded man may use a manual of prayers, but he cannot be devout, because devotion is the application of an humble heart to God as its only happiness."

"Your own self is your own Cain that murders your own Abel. For every action and motion of self has the spirit of Anti-Christ and murders the divine life within you."

"The eyes of our souls only then begin to see when our bodily eyes are closing."

"What need of so much news from abroad, when all that concerns either life or death is all transacting and at work within us?"

"Ask what Time is, it is nothing else but something of eternal duration become finite, measurable and transitory."

"Perfection does not consist in any singular state or condition of life, or in any particular set of duties, but in holy and religious conduct of ourselves in every state of Life."

"Love and pity and wish well to every soul in the world; hat nothing but the evil that stirs in your own heart."

"He who has learned to pray has learned the greatest secret of a holy and happy life."

"Death is not more certainly a separation of our souls from our bodies than the Christian life is a separation of our souls from worldly tempers, vain indulgences, and unnecessary cares."

"Humility is nothing else but a right judgment of ourselves."

"A life devoted unto God, looking wholly unto Him in all our actions, and doing all things suitably to His glory, is so far from being dull and uncomfortable, that it creates new comforts in everything that we do."

"All people desire what they believe will make them happy. If a person is not full of desire for God, we can only conclude that he is engaged with another happiness."

"All that is sweet, delightful, and amiable in this world, in the serenity of the air, the fineness of seasons, the joy of light, the melody of sounds, the beauty of colors, the fragrancy of smells, the splendor our precious stones, is nothing else but Heaven breaking through the veil of this world, manifesting itself in such a degree and darting forth in such variety so much of its own nature."

"As the health and strength or weakness of our bodies is very much owing to their methods of treating us when we were young, so the soundness or folly of our minds is not less owing to those first tempers and ways of thinking which we eagerly received from the love, tenderness, authority, and constant conversation of our mothers."

"A frequent intercession with God, earnestly beseeching Him to forgive the sins of all mankind, to bless them with His providence, enlighten them with His Spirit, and bring them to everlasting happiness, is the divinest exercise that the heart of man can be engaged in. Be daily, therefore, on your knees, in a solemn deliberate performance of this devotion, praying for others in such forms, with such length, importunity, and earnestness, as you use for yourself; and you will find all little, ill-natured passions die away, your heart grow great and generous, delighting in the common happiness of others, as you used only to delight in your own."

"All outward power that we exercise in the things about us is but a shadow in comparison of that inward power that resides in our will, imagination, and desires; these communicate with eternity and kindle a life which always reaches either Heaven or hell... Here lies the ground of the great efficacy of prayer, which when it is the prayer of the heart, the prayer of faith, has a kindling and creating power, and forms and transforms the soul into everything that the desire reaches after: it has the key to the Kingdom of Heaven and unlocks all its treasures; it opens, extends and moves that in us which has its being and motion in and with the divine nature. and so it brings us into real union and Communion with God."

"A revelation is to be received as coming from God, not because of its internal excellence, or because we judge it to be worthy of God; but because God has declared it to be His in as plain and undeniable a manner as He has declared creation and providence to be His."

"A rule that relates even to the smallest part of our life is of great benefit to us, merely as it is a rule."

"Continuing a Lenten series on prayer: When a man has had so much benefit from the gospel, as to know his own misery, his want of a redeemer, who he is, and how is he to be found; there everything seems to be done, both to awaken and direct his prayer, and make it a true praying in and by the Spirit. For when the heart really pants and longs after God, its prayer is a praying, as moved and animated by the Spirit of God; it is the breath or inspiration of God, stirring, moving and opening itself in the heart. For though the early nature, our old man, can oblige or accustom himself to take heavenly words at certain times into his mouth, yet this is a certain truth, that nothing ever did, or can have the least desire or tendency to ascend to heaven, but that which came down from heaven; and therefore nothing in the heart can pray, aspire, and long after God, but the Spirit of God moving and stirring in it."

"Consider yourself as always wrong, as having gone aside, and lost your right path, when any delight, desire, or trouble, is suffered to live in you that cannot be made a part of this prayer of the heart to God. For nothing so infallibly shows us the true state of our heart, as that which gives us either delight or trouble; for as our delight and trouble is, so is the state of our heart: if therefore you are carried away with any trouble or delight, that has not an immediate relation to your progress in the divine life, you may be assured your heart is not in its right state of prayer to God."

"Being thus saved himself, he may be zealous in the salvation of souls."

"Everything in... nature, is descended out that which is eternal, and stands as a... visible outbirth of it, so when we know how to separate out the grossness, death, and darkness... from it, we find... it in its eternal state."

"Each of these foregoing states has its time, its variety of workings, its trials, temptations, and purifications, which can only be known by experience in the passage through them. The one only and infallible way to go safely through all the difficulties, trials, temptations, dryness, or opposition of our own evil tempers is this: It is to expect nothing from ourselves, to trust to nothing in ourselves, but in everything to expect and depend upon God for relief. Keep fast hold of this thread, and then let your way be what it will -- darkness, temptation, or the rebellion of nature -- you will be led through it all, to an union with God: for nothing hurts us in any state but an expectation of something in it and from it, which we should only expect from God."

"Feasts and business and pleasure and enjoyments seem great things to us, whilst we think of nothing else; but as soon as we add death to them they all sink into an equal littleness."

"Devotion signifies a life given, or devoted to God. He therefore is the devout man, who lives no longer to his own will, or the way and spirit of the world, but to the sole will of God, who considers God in everything, who serves God in everything, who makes all the parts of his common life, parts of piety, by doing everything in the name of God, and under such rules as are conformable to his Glory."

"Covetousness, pride, and envy are not three different things, but only three different names for the restless workings of one and the same will or desire. Wrath, which is a fourth birth from these three, can have no existence till one or all of these three are contradicted, or have something done to them that is contrary to their will. These four properties generate their own torment. They have no outward cause, nor any inward power of altering themselves. And therefore all self or nature must be in this state until some supernatural good comes into it, or gets a birth in it. Whilst man indeed lives among the vanities of time, his covetousness, envy, pride, and wrath may be in a tolerable state, may hold him to a mixture of peace and trouble; they may have at times their gratifications as well as their torments. But when death has put an end to the vanity of all earthly cheats, the soul that is not born again of the Supernatural Word and Spirit of God, must find itself unavoidably devoured and shut up in its own insatiable, unchangeable, self-tormenting covetousness, envy, pride, and wrath."

"Faith is not a notion, but a real strong essential hunger, which as it proceeds from a seed of the divine nature in us, so it attracts and unites with its like."

"For your heart is your life, and your life can only be altered by that which is the real working of your heart. And if your prayer is only a form of words, made by the skill of other people, such a prayer can no more change you into a good man, than an actor upon the stage, who speaks kingly language, is thereby made to be a king: whereas one thought, or word, or look, towards God, proceeding from your own heart, can never be without its proper fruit, or fail of doing a real good to your soul. Again, another great and infallible benefit of this kind of prayer is this; it is the only way to be delivered from the deceitfulness of your own hearts."

"God seeth different abilities and frailties of men, which may move His goodness to be merciful to their different improvements in virtue."

"God is always present and always working towards the life of the soul and its deliverance from captivity under flesh and blood. But this inward work of God, though never ceasing or altering, is yet always and only hindered by the activity of our own nature and faculties, by bad men through their obedience to earthly passions and by good men through their striving to be good in their own way, by their natural strength and a multiplicity of holy labors and contrivances. Both these sorts of people obstruct the work of God upon their souls. For we can cooperate with God no other way than by submitting to the work of God, and seeking, and leaving ourselves to it."

"He that seeks God in everything is sure to find God in everything. When we thus live wholly unto God, God is wholly ours and we are then happy in all the happiness of God; for by uniting with Him in heart, and will, and spirit, we are united to all that He is and has in Himself. This is the purity and perfection of life that we pray for in the Lord's Prayer, that God's kingdom may come and His will be done in us, as it is in Heaven. And this we may be sure is not only necessary, but attainable by us."

"Hell is nothing else but nature departed or excluded from the beam of divine light."

"I desire nothing, I press nothing upon you, but to make the most of human life, and to aspire after perfection in whatever state of life you choose."

"If [we] have no chosen the kingdom of God [first], it will make in the end no difference what [we] have chosen instead."

"If I now want to add something of my own (i.e., inner assurances) to this faith, if this great and glorious faith is defective and saves me not till I can add my own sense and my own feeling to it at such a time or place, is not this saying in the plainest manner that faith alone cannot justify me? ... All I would say of these inward delights and enjoyments is this: they are not holiness, they are not piety, they are not perfection, but they are God's gracious allurements and calls to seek after holiness and spiritual perfection."

"If it is our glory and happiness to have a rational nature, that is endued with wisdom and reason, that is capable of imitating the divine nature, then it must be our glory and happiness to improve our reason and wisdom, to act up to the excellency of our rational nature, and to imitate God in all our actions, to the utmost of our power."

"God smiles when we praise and thank Him continually. Few things feel better than receiving heartfelt praise and appreciation from someone else. God loves it, too. An amazing thing happens when we offer praise and thanksgiving to God. When we give God enjoyment, our own hearts are filled with joy."

"Grant that I may worship and pray unto Thee with as much reverence and godly fear, as if I saw the heavens open and all the angels that stand around Thy throne. Amen."

"He that rightly understands the reasonableness and excellency of charity will know that it can never be excusable to waste any of our money in pride and folly."

"He that is endeavoring to subdue, and root out of his mind, all those passions of pride, envy and ambition, which religion opposes, is doing more to make himself happy, even in this life than he that is contriving means to indulge them."

"If our common life is not a common course of humility, self-denial, renunciation of the world, poverty of spirit, and heavenly affection, we do not live the lives of Christians."