Amazing Grace - VOICE of a MOVEMENT

VOICE of a MOVEMENT (Illustration) Civil Rights Famous Historical Events Famous People Film Social Studies World History Ethics Biographies Slaves and Slave Owners

In this image of a portrait by Vincent Galloway, after a work by John Russell, we see the young William Wilberforce (1759-1833).


In 1784, while traveling in Europe with his former teacher, Wilberforce saw a book -  A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life - in his friend's luggage. William was intrigued. 

Reading William Law's words, the young politician began to reassess his own life. Instead of focusing on himself, he started thinking how he could help others.

Wilberforce wasn't the only person whose life was dramatically impacted by Law's book.  Dr. Samuel Johnson - one of Britain's most distinguished literary critics - was also impressed with Law's thinking. In his famous biography of Johnson, James Boswell quotes his subject:

I then became a sort of lax talker against religion, for I did not much think against it; and this lasted till I went to Oxford, where it would not be suffered. When at Oxford, I took up Law's Serious Call to a Holy Life, expecting to find it a dull book (as such books generally are), and perhaps to laugh at it. But I found Law quite an overmatch for me; and this was the first occasion of my thinking in earnest of religion, after I became capable of rational inquiry. (Samuel Johnson, quoted in James Boswell's Life of Johnson, pages 50-51.)

Seriously doubting his own unbelief, Wilberforce moved closer to becoming a Christian. He pondered whether his newfound faith, and his existing career, were mutually exclusive. He asked himself:

Can one serve God and one's nation in parliament?

Now twenty-five years old, William sought the advice of a former slave-ship captain who, himself, had gone through a spiritual conversion: John Newton.  Meeting in secret, since evangelical Christians were looked down on, Newton assured Wilberforce he was on the right path:

God has raised you up for the good of the church and the good of the nation, maintain your friendship with Pitt, continue in Parliament, who knows that but for such a time as this God has brought you into public life and has a purpose for you.

Soon thereafter, William Wilberforce became the parliamentary voice of a movement which changed the world.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jan 01, 2007

Updated Last Revision: May 16, 2016

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"VOICE of a MOVEMENT" AwesomeStories.com. Jan 01, 2007. Jan 26, 2020.
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