What were the societal and political deductions of William Wilberforce ‘s Christian committedness as in the texts you have studied?
William Wilberforce ( 1759-1833 ) was a politically active emancipationist and devout Christian whose criterions of moral behaviors and ethical intervention to all individuals informed his polemical texts. Wilberforce’s 1797 workA Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians in the Higher and Middle Classes of this Country Contrasted with Real Christianitywas a popular text when it was published, analyzing modern-day attitudes to both faith and political relations in the extremely volatile ambiance of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries after the Gallic Revolution. His celebrated parliamentary arguments and politically motivated composing such asLetter on the Abolition of the Slave Trade( 1807 ) were built-in to the eventual abolishment of bondage in Britain. Praised by coevalss as the ‘Renewer of Society’ , Wilberforce’s strong ethical strong beliefs were shaped by his staunch Christian committedness. He was a vocal representative in Parliament who used his political place to prosecute his personal aim of a reformation of manners. Whether reasoning for the immorality of the slave trade or prophesying a good Christian life, Wilberforce sought reform in a society he considered grossly corrupt and immoral, a symptom of the deficiency of spiritual committedness in his modern-day society.
It is clear from reading Wilberforce’s composing that he considered his run against bondage to be really much tied to his impression of Christian morality. Condemning bondage as an immoral trade, Wilberforce in many ways foreshadowed the turning concern with societal wellbeing which defined the Victorian epoch. Wilberforce and his protagonists did extended research of the slave trade, even sing Africa and analyzing for themselves claims made by slave dealers that instead than incarcerating free born work forces and adult females to a life of physical labour and sub-standard life conditions, they were in fact delivering war captives and giving them a new life. Wilberforce was instrumental in bring outing the gross and cold conditions which were the foundation of the slave trade.
Wilberforce converted to Christianity in his twentiess, and he makes it clear that it was, for him, a specifying minute of his life. ‘When I was foremost awakened to a sense [ … ] of the importance of Divine things, ’ he subsequently wrote to a friend, ’ the hurt I felt was deep and affecting indeed’ ( S. Wilberforce p. 194 ) . Wilberforce is driven by guilt over his yesteryear, and it would be natural to state that his fervent run for abolishment and his rigorous Christian virtuousness were compensatory. Reading such texts asA Practical View of Christianity, nevertheless, reveals a adult male driven to alter a society he felt was immoral and pitiless. Wilberforce’s statements of religion are straightforward and polemic, pressing his fellow work forces and adult females to a similar life of virtuousness and activism. ‘When summoned to give an history of our stewardship’ , he argues, ‘we shall be called upon to reply for the usage we have made [ … ] of the agencies of alleviating the wants [ and the ] necessities of others’ ( W. Wilberforce p. 174 ) . The importance of a Christian society, instead than accent on single redemption, is built-in to understanding Wilberforce’s societal and religious doctrine. ‘Let everyone modulate his behavior [ … ] by the aureate regulation of making to others as in similar fortunes we would hold them make to us, and the way of responsibility will be clear before him’ he wrote ( W. Wilberforce pp. 176-7 ) . It would follow, hence, that if the opinion province besides adhered to the aureate regulation, their authorization would no longer be in uncertainty and would take to a more stable political ambiance. Christian virtuousnesss would organize the foundation of both spiritual and secular society in Wilberforce’s theoretical account.
Wilberforce’s transition marked the beginning of his active political calling as good. Believing steadfastly that the new ethical motives, or manners, based on what he termed the ‘peculiar doctrines’ of Christianity instead than a secular ethical system were cardinal to enduring political reformation ; for Wilberforce, practical workss were born in the cardinal philosophies of human corruption, plunging judgement, faith itself, the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit, and a life devoted to good workss ( Piper ) . ‘The expansive extremist defect in the practical system of these nominal Christians, ’ Wilberforce argues, ‘is their forgetfulness of all the curious philosophies of the Religion which they profess – the corruptness of human nature – the expiation of the Savior – the consecrating influence of the Holy Spirit’ ( W. Wilberforce pp. 162-163 ) . The Christian philosophy of original wickedness postulates that human nature is non progressive ; instead, work forces were created changeless. Poor moral wellness, hence, is non a societal development but instead an unnatural province and Wilberforce’s activism is an effort to convey people back to a natural moral order ( Levy p. 745 ) .
A Practical View of Christianity, published in 1797 over ten old ages after Wilberforce’s transition and about 16 old ages after he foremost entered Parliament, links the effects of moral wellness to political warfare. He argues in the text that manners, that is, the manner in which people act, is straight shaped by these ‘peculiar doctrines’ of faith. In Wilberforce’s theoretical account, spiritual philosophy is the base for socio-political public assistance. Social ailments and political convulsion are caused by a oversight in moral wellness. If ‘a rule of true Religion should [ … ] addition land, there is no gauging the effects on public ethical motives, and the attendant influence on our political welfare’ ( W. Wilberforce p. 211 ) . Wilberforce saw his activity in the political sphere, most visibly his strong anti-slavery beliefs, as inseparable from his desire for societal reform. He says that he was charged by God to set about two undertakings: the abolishment of bondage and the reformation of ‘manners’ . Wilberforce’s matrimony of church and province had branchings on both the person and social degree.
Morality is portion of single character ; although spiritual and societal mores inform moral pick, finally moral constructions are derived internally. Wilberforce, nevertheless, argues that Christian morality is non an single pick but instead a corporate formation. England’s moral wellness was in diminution, he argues, because the people had rejected spiritual philosophy in favour of an internally derived system of moralss. He writes:
The fatal wont of sing Christian ethical motives as distinguishable from Christian philosophies numbly gained strength. Thus the curious philosophies of Christianity went more and more out of sight, and as might of course hold been expected, the moral system itself besides began to shrivel and disintegrate, being robbed of that which should hold supplied it with life and nourishment. ” ( W. Wilberforce, p. 198 ) .
The 18th century saw a diminution in church attending, and Wilberforce saw this oversight in active religion as the direct cause of societal jobs. However, instead than have people return back to the church he envisioned a spiritual life which would permeate mundane being. Moral life would ordain a greater societal alteration.
Wilberforce, singled out in history for his active function in the abolitionist motion, represents a larger motion which looked to religion to ordain societal alteration. The Clapham Sect, of which Wilberforce was involved, was one such group. Kevin Belmonte believes that the Clapham Sect was built-in to the eventual abolishment of bondage in Britain, and that its missional and societal work effectual. ‘It is by and large agreed’ , Belmonte says, ‘that [ Wilberforce ] and his Clapham Circle co-workers, did more than any other group of political reformists to do Britain a more merely and humanist society’ ( Belmonte ) . It is of import to retrieve that, although Wilberforce is frequently remember in history for his societal activism driven by his strong spiritual strong beliefs, he is non an exclusion in his age but instead representative of a larger concern for societal public assistance which came to public consciousness at the terminal of the 18th century and continued to rule the Victorian age.
Wilberforce believed that societal public assistance began with the person, and his life was an illustration thereof. He on a regular basis donated big parts of his income to the hapless, traveling so far as to state that ‘by careful direction, I should be able to give at least one-fourth of my income to the poor’ ( Everett p. 68 ) . It was reported that one twelvemonth he gave ?3000 more to charity than he really earned in the twelvemonth. Clearly Wilberforce believes that charity begins in the place, but his matrimony of single charity and societal activism was considered a political act. Wilberforce considered wealth in and of itself as ‘acceptable’ but as ‘highly unsafe ownerships ; and [ are to be considered ] non as instruments of luxury or luster, but as affording the agencies of honouring his heavenly Benefactor, and decreasing the wretchednesss of mankind’ ( W. Wilberforce ) . This typifies Wilberforce’s impression of Christian committedness: by adhering to Christian dogmas sing the dangers of wealths and responsibility towards one’s fellow adult male, Wilberforce is able to politicise the Golden Rule to ordain large-scale societal alteration.
Piper, John. ‘Peculiar Doctrines, Public Morals, and the Political Social welfare: Contemplations on
the Life and Labor of William Wilberforce’ Bethlehem Conference for Pastors, February 5, 2002. & lt ; hypertext transfer protocol: //www.desiringgod.org/library/biographies/02wilberforce.html & gt ; entree 18 February 2006.
Belmonte, Kevin.Hero for Humanity: A Biography of William Wilberforce( NavPress,
2002 ) .
Everett, Betty Steele. Freedom Fighter: The Story of William Wilberforce ( Fort
Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade, 1994 ) , p. 68.
Levy, David M and Peart, Sandra J. “’Who are the Canters? ’ The Alliance of
Evangelical-Economic Egalitarians”History of Political Economy35.4 ( 2003 ) , pp. 731-757.
Wilberforce, Samuel.The Life of William Wilberforce, ( John Murray, 1838 ) , vol. 3.
Wilberforce, William. A Practical Position of Christianity, erectile dysfunction. by Kevin Charles Belmonte
( Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1996 )