We’re persevering with our abstract of William Law’s A Practical Treatise on Christian Perfection. It can be finest in the event you learn half 1 first HERE, in the event you haven’t carried out so already. In this submit, we’re centered completely on chapter two, as it presents a transparent basis of Law’s pondering. It would possibly sound surprising, however Law says we should be taught to hate so as to really love. To me, it’s an excellent take.
Christianity Requires a Change of Nature: A New Life Perfectly Devoted to God
Christianity isn’t a college of ethical advantage; in accordance to Law, it’s “an entire change of life, a dedication of ourselves, our souls and bodies unto God.” It is marked by a real dying and separation from worldly tempers, useless indulgences and pointless cares. We should due to this fact resign the “pomps and vanities of the world” earlier than we could be obtained into Christian communion. Law calls us to the rejection of all worldly opinions, fleshly cares and earthly initiatives. Since “he that is born of God overcometh the world” Law believes that the Christian life is lived in opposition to the world. In Pure Pleasure I make the distinction that we will “enjoy the earth without loving the world” however I believe William Law would possibly disagree with me on that time.
Life in Christ, Law says, makes us “utterly hate and labor to avoid all sin.” Most moderns would agree with the “hate” half. We’re not as accepting of the “labor to avoid all sin” half. But on this, the finest classics (and extra importantly, Scripture) agree that so as to put sin to dying (I’m not talking of forgiveness of sins right here, however being free from experiential sin), a cooperative labor on our half is important.
The motive we’re referred to as to hate is as a result of we’re referred to as to love. Hate makes love attainable. Being lukewarm about hate inevitably makes us lukewarm about love.
Law insists that we are referred to as to love like God, who loves with a “universal love and benevolence,” which implies we’re referred to as to love everybody, shut relations, pals, and enemies alike. “It is impossible therefore to be a true Christian and an enemy at the same time. Mankind has no enemy but the Devil…there is perhaps no duty of religion that is so contrary to flesh and blood as this.”
This is the place Law challenges me a lot. He will not be a negatively centered, “don’t do this” type of instructor who stops at piety for the sake of piety. On the floor it might sound like this as a result of he actually has quite a lot of damaging don’ts (simply wait till we get into his writings about the theater, jewellery, and gown). But these “don’ts” are merely leaping off factors for Law to get to what issues most: the name to positively love. Sin is harmful not simply because it’d rattling us (for believers, that’s not related). Sin is harmful as a result of it retains us from love, which is all the pieces.
Here’s the place hatred of the world and love of God come collectively: if we take away the love of earthly good and evils, we undercut all hatred and malice, for hatred and malice are brought on by our base tempers and wanton wishes. Thus we should develop into completely “dead” to the world, all its wishes and all its enjoyments. (*2*) It is simply via being conformed to Christ’s dying that we will count on to take pleasure in his resurrection.
“It is a miserable error to be content with ourselves, because we are less vain, or covetous, more sober, and decent in our behavior, than we used to be…They who thus measure themselves by themselves are not wise.” Don’t be glad with mere enchancment; Christ is the measure, which is why we should press on towards perfection (see half 1 of this sequence for the way “perfection” is outlined).
To some this will sound like legalism. To me, it feels like an inspirational name to love individuals like I’ve by no means liked earlier than. I need to be an individual who loves with the love of Christ. I’m so removed from that, and certainly one of the causes is little doubt as a result of I don’t hate the world sufficient. I have to be taught to hate so as to really love. Hate the sin, that’s, in order that I can love the individuals—all individuals. Life aside from Christ is the reverse—loving sin and hating individuals.
I as soon as wrote a submit about how viewing porn tends to breed anger towards one’s partner, How Porn Creates Angry Men. I have to hate lust to love my spouse. Pride will make me assault individuals as a substitute of search their finest. I have to hate satisfaction to encourage. Greed will tempt me to cheat or oppress individuals as a substitute of bless and serve individuals, so I have to hate greed so as to love generously. Malice will search to construct relationships by way of gossip, so I have to hate gossip to take pleasure in loving fellowship. Hate is, certainly, the doorway to love.
The Christian life may thus be outlined as: Hate sin and love individuals.
Life aside from Christ may very well be outlined as: Love sin and hate individuals. If you like sin, and somebody assaults your sin, you’ll hate them as a substitute of the sin.
I need to hate sin and love individuals. Law jogs my memory that hating sin is a prerequisite to Christlike love. I by no means would have arrived right here alone. I could not agree with all of Law’s conclusions on this e-book, however I really like this premise and imagine it has enriched my outlook and understanding of the Christian life.