William Law was born in the tiny village of King's Cliffe in England. He was educated at Cambridge University, with the intention of entering the ministry of the Church of England. However, he refused to take the oath of allegiance to George I, and so he was barred from serving in the ministry of the Anglican Church.
To support himself, William Law served ten years as a tutor to the children of Edward Gibbon. It was during his stay at the Gibbon household that he wrote his most famous work, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life. As an English devotional classic, it ranks second only to Pilgrim's Progress. In a Serious Call, Law challenged the spiritually dry, intellectual Christians of his day to a practical walk with God in all aspects of daily living. This work had a profound effect on George Whitefield and John and Charles Wesley. In fact, Charles Wesley later remarked that Law had taught him all they he knew about religion.
Law took very seriously and literally the teachings of Jesus.He allowed no compromise with the world. To be a disciple of Christ meant living out his teachings in all aspects of our lives. Christ will not accept divided loyalty. When the Gibbons' children had reached maturity, William Law retired to his hometown of King's Cliffe, and lived in the house his father had left him. In King's Cliffe, Law served as the spiritual mentor for two elderly ladies, Hester Gibbon and the widowed Mrs. Hutchinson. William Law and these two women lived out the very things that Law had written about in A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life. They lived frugally, gave generously to the poor, established schools for needy children, and spent large parts of each day in prayer.
Later in life, Law became heavily influenced by the German Protestant mystic, Jacob Boehme. As a result, William Law's later works emphasize the inner, spiritual life that comes only through the new birth.
In the last year of his life, Law wrote An Humble, Earnest, and Affectionate Address to the Clergy, which is probably Law's second most popular work in modern times, being published today under the name of The Power of the Spirit. Law became ill shortly after penning this work and died at the age of 75.