Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce

In my previous post, I wrote of the importance of reading Christian biographies.  What I plan to do over the next few days is to share some of the biographies which the Lord has used to inspire, challenge and teach me over the years.  Typically, I will do this every Monday, but for this week, I will share some of them with you in between the other posts praying that the Lord will be pleased to use them to bless you too even as He has used them to blessed me.

I will start with William Wilberforce.  I do so simply because my wife and I just finished re-watching the movie Amazing Grace (released in 2006) which is based on Wilberforce particularly on his fight for the abolition of slave trade in Great Britain.  If you have high-speed internet, you can watch this movie for FREE online.


Eric Metaxas as well as John Piper wrote wonderful biographies on William Wilberforce.  I highly commend them to you.  The one by Metaxas is entitled, Amazing Grace:  William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery.  Piper’s is entitled, Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce.  I hope you will get a copy of one or both of these for yourself.

William Wilberforce was a man of great courage, tenacity and endurance.  Though there were discouraging moments in his life when he would have been tempted to give up the “fight,” he courageously kept on fighting for his cause and the Lord granted him success in the end.  He was blessed to have people like John Newton by his side encouraging him to keep going.  The move to abolish slave trade was near and dear to Newton’s heart as well. For many years, he was the captain of an African slave ship.  He lived a very grotesque life steeped in sin.  But by the grace of God, he was later converted and became a minister of the very gospel he once despised.  He authored the famous hymn, Amazing Grace whose melody (some believe) was taken from a West African sorrow chant which some of the slaves on Newton’s ship would have sung.  Watch Wintley Phipps talk about that in this video below:


Kevin DeYoung blogged on William Wilberforce and concluded his post with the following words:

In Revelation 13 John warns of a terrible beast who is allowed to make war on God’s people. Saints will be taken captive and destroyed. That’s the reality John outlines in verse 10. But the response to such antagonism is not to retreat but to entrench. “Here is a call for the endurance and the faith of the saints.” Some of us may be called to accomplish great things in the cause of Christ like Wilberforce.  Others will be called to endure great trials and suffering and even persecution on account of Christ.  All of us, in a world often unfriendly and unsympathetic to genuine Christian faith, are called to perseverance and faithfulness. There is no hope, no holiness, and no influence without it.

Praise the Lord for His amazing grace given to us through Jesus Christ.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace those fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

5 thoughts on “Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce

  1. Dear brother,

    A couple of years ago, I became interested in William Wilberforce, and retrieved the original biography written by his sons from the National Archives in Ottawa (via an inter-library loan). That gave me a much fuller picture of Mr. Wilberforce than the movie. He was an evangelical, and went through a long period of remorse over his sins (after conversion), which seemed to be the habit of that era (e.g., Edwards).

    Although I see much good in his parliamentary efforts, I am not convinced his co-belligerence approach (in working with Quakers and even unbelievers) was correct. I would welcome your thoughts on this.



    • Dear Doug,
      Thank you very much for taking the time to visit my blog. Thank you for sending this comment. I have not read the biography that you mentioned – but would love to if I can get hold of a copy. But to address the issue that you raised, I do not see a problem with the issue that you raised (i.e. Wilberforce’s “co-belligerence approach…”). As a general principle, I do not see a problem with Christians collaborating with non-Christians in the common grace realm or affairs – which I think is what Wilberforce was doing. In fact, I would encourage serious Christians to engage and cooperate with the world/non-Christians in common grace institutions (instead of standing by the sidelines, paralyzed and afraid) when there is a good cause for which to fight (i.e. the abolition of slave trade, caring for the poor, orphans/widows, defending the defenseless). I think Wilberforce was just being a good neighbor – loving others as he loved himself and extending the love of God to them. There is much good that can be accomplished by non-Christians which puts most of us Christians to shame. But they operate from “borrowed capital.” As individual Christians, we have God-given liberty and mandate to engage our world and strive to make a difference in real people’s lives. We need not shy away from getting involved in fighting for good, honorable and God-honoring common grace causes alongside non-Christians. So, I don’t see a problem with Wilberforce’s approach. I would have a HUGE problem with Christians collaborating with non-Christians in the special grace realm or affairs (i.e. evangelism, church planting, missions, etc). Finally, what I have said here mainly has to do with individual Christians and NOT the Church as an entity/institution. I think the Church as an institution, should refrain from any such associations as they would jeopardize her mission and confuse people as to her identity in Christ. I hope this helps. Once again, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. Feel free to follow this up if you would like to do so. Your brother in Christ, Fletcher

      • Dear Fletcher,

        Thank you for responding so quickly and warmly. I appreciate your thoughts and will send you an email to discuss a bit further, if you like.

        In Christ,


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