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Wilberforce is an awesome name

I’m almost done reading Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery. I have been touched and inspired in lots of ways by this book, especially in my current interest in the slave trade of today. I got the book last year when I was in NYC, and I actually got to meet the author, Eric Metaxas. He is a brilliantly funny man who has thick glasses and always wears a tie. There’s something historic about his appearance, though he’s not old by any means. I admire him because of the incredible ability to research and repaint historical events in this book so that I feel as if William Wilberforce and I could have been great friends. (Is that weird?) I would love to write like that…

Here are some favorite quotes from the book so far:

“and so Wilberforce may perhaps be said to have performed the wedding ceremony between faith and culture. We had suddenly entered a world in which we could never ask again whether it was our responsibility as a society to help the poor and the suffering. We could only quibble about how, about the details…Today, we call this “having a social conscience”…”

“Strange that the most generous men and religious, do not see that their duties increase with their fortune, and that they will be punished for spending it on themselves in eating and drinking. The world that had embraced [Wilberforce] as its dearest darling would shower him with whatever he liked. But he is now suddenly untouched by its charms. He seems for the first time to sense that there might be something more. Something is troubling him that he’s only beginning to sense, whose shape he can hardly yet make out in dim light.”

“Ideas have far-reaching consequences, and one must be ever so careful about what one allows to lodge in one’s brain.”

[Wilberforce says] “It was not so much the fear of punishment by which I was affected as a sense of my great sinfulness in having so long neglected the unspeakable mercies of God.”

“He saw, so to speak, the full horror of himself. God, in his mercy, had allowed Wilberforce to see himself as he truly was, and it was crushing. But Wilberforce knew God didn’t mean to end there. On the other side of the worst of who he was, if he dared face the worst, was a God who would help him overcome his faults and do great things, the very things for which He had created him. It was not too late.”

[Wilberforce wrote in his diary] “God almighty has set before me two great objects: the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners.”

“Love never reasons, but profusely gives; it gives like a thoughtless prodigal its all, and then trembles lest it has done too little.”

“But in the process of throwing himself (talking about Thomas Clarkson) into the subject with the extreme zeal that is born of academic ambition, the young scholar discovered things about the slave trade that he might have rather not known…In the course of chasing an academic distinction, he came to know what few men in his day knew: the full scope of the monstrous traffic in human flesh that had continued millennia and that was flourishing just then in the British Empire.” (just like today)

“A critical moment in the abolitionist cause was quickly approaching. Like-minded men and women were finding each other, sharing their stories, and beginning to formulate strategies.”

“The line between courageous faith and foolish idealism is, almost by definition, one angstrom wide.”

(Letter from John Wesley to Wilberforce) “Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing! Go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.”

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