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William Wilberforce

My Friend Debbie      William Wilberforce, a man of God, unwilling to bow to the pressure of the elite society of England found his call in the abolition of slavery. He was born in 1759 into a family of wealth and high standing in England. When he was eight years old, his father died and he was sent to live with his aunt in Wimbledon.

     While living with his aunt, who was a strong Methodist, Wilberforce came in contact with the evangelist George Whitfield. Whitfield had a tremendous impact on John Newton, who was at one time a horrible slave trader, now changed by God and a disciple of Whitfield.

     Wilberforce was sent to St. John's College by his mother and got caught up in the high society through her influence. For a time, he put aside the Christian influence from his aunt, pursued a prominent position in Parliament and became closely acquainted with William Pratt, The Prime Minister.

     The book, The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul, was the catalysis that started William Wilberforce on his spiritual journey. He studied the Bible with great enthusiasm and knew that his new life as a believer in Jesus may cost him his close friends and the influence he had in society. For Wilberforce, this was nothing compared to doing the work of the Lord.

     John Newton, the man he knew from his youth, spoke with Wilberforce about becoming politically active in the service of God. He followed his advice and wanted to change the morals of the social elite and make them responsible to acquire Christian values. The main cry of his heart was the horrendous treatment of the slaves and the cruelties of the slave trade industry. He had to put an end to the trading of innocent lives. In 1798, he began a movement to abolish the slave trade in England. He, along with the members of the "Clapham Sect" had worked hard for eighteen years to abolish the slave trade.

     Slaves were still being used for service and he fought diligently to have slavery stopped. In 1833, William Wilberforce died, but three days before his death, the House of Commons passed the law to emancipate the slaves in the British colonies. Because of Wilberforce's work and influence in England, his impact helped the slave trade to end and in time cease in America as well.

     In addition, India was opened to Christian missionaries with his help and the British and Foreign Bible Societies were assisted and founded by Wilberforce.

     "If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow-creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large."

          -William Wilberforce

Picture taken from: http://www.brycchancarey.com/abolition/wilberforce.htm

Copyright © 2008-2015 Nancy Panettiere

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