Saturday, 19 June 2010
Hague on Wilberforce
I have been catching up on my reading and have today finished William Hague's very detailed and impressive biography of William Wilberforce. The tone of the book is sympathetic without being sycophantic. I was not surprised that Hague understood the world of politics so well or of his understanding of a fellow Yorkshire man , but I was impressed by the grasp he showed of Wilberforce's evangelical faith and how it was the motiviating factor for everything he did. In that respect Hague's work reminded me of Roy Hattersley's biography of John Wesley
Among the many admirable qualities of Wilberforce as Hague describes him, were his constant and faithful prayer life,his perseverance in so many causes ,chief among them, the abolition of slavery, until the goal was reached.I was impressed by how Wilberforce showed great compassion to so many people ,many of them strangers who turned up on his doorstep looking for help.I was moved by the care Wilberforce showed to his family and the way he coped with the loss of two beloved daughters,his faith really shone through. I admired the way he built coalitions and made strong relationships even with many of those with whom he disagreed .In todays terminology Wilberforce was a great networker,but he did not build networks for his own ends but for the cause of The Kingdom of God. In everything,good and bad, that happened to him, he sensed and trusted in God's providence.
Wilberforce was not perfect ,he could be indecisive (Hague thinks he would have made a hopeless minister of the crown) and at times much too trusting, but he was a remarkable man by the standards of any age, and Hague's conlusion that Wilberforce was "A beacon of light which the passing of two centuries has scarcely dimmed" is justified.
Wilberforce is a great example (perhaps even the greatest example) of a Christian politician and a demonstration of the huge difference just one committed person can make