Back to Struggling Christians

William Wilberforce
Giving What They Dare Not Withhold

William Wilberforce was slight of stature--five feet tall--but great in the sight of God and men, as the one who is credited with bringing about the abolishment of slavery in England. He won a seat in Parliament at the age of 21 and enjoyed immense popularity as a result of his elocutionary skills. While traveling with friends in 1785, he borrowed and read the book, "The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul" by Philip Doddridge. At that time he almost gave up his seat in Parliament to serve the cause of Christ, but on the advise of John Newton--"God can use you where you are"-- (Newton wrote Amazing Grace  and was formerly a slave trader) remained and dedicated himself to getting rid of slavery in his country. It took over 20 years to have slavery abolished (1895), then another 24 years to have the slaves emancipated (1833) just a few days prior to his death and his 74th birthday. During the time struggling to bring about a change in the laws of his country, he often suffered ill health and the attacks of his opponents, but he PREVAILED! He was also involved in 60 other missionary causes. His words are worth pondering and putting into practice.

“Measure your progress by your experience of the love of God and its exercise before men…

In contrast, servile, base, and mercenary is the notion of Christian practice among the bulk of nominal Christians. They give no more than they dare not withhold. They abstain from nothing but what they dare not practice. When you state to them the doubtful quality of any action, and the consequent obligation to refrain from it, they reply to you in the very spirit of Shylock, “they cannot find it in the bond.” 

In short, they know Christianity ONLY AS A SYSTEM OF RESTRAINTS. It is robbed of every liberal and generous principle. It is rendered almost unfit for the social relationships of life, and only suited to the gloomy walls of a cloister, in which they would confine it.

But true Christians consider themselves as not satisfying some rigorous creditor, but as discharging a debt of gratitude. Accordingly, theirs is not the stinted return of a constrained obedience, but the large and liberal measure of voluntary service.” — William Wilberforce, Real Christianity