Abolitionist William Wilberforce led the anti-slave trade movement in 18th century Britain. Known for his devout Christian faith, he died on July 29, 1833; just three days after learning that the Slavery Abolition Act – freeing almost all slaves in the British Empire – would pass through parliament.
In memory of his life and death, here are 10 of his most inspirational quotes.
1. "Great indeed are our opportunities; great also is our responsibility."
2. "You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know."
3. "Accustom yourself to look first to the dreadful consequences of failure; then fix your eye on the glorious prize which is before you; and when your strength begins to fail, and your spirits are well-nigh exhausted, let the animating view rekindle your resolution, and call forth in renewed vigour the fainting energies of your soul."
4. "Is it not the great end of religion, and, in particular, the glory of Christianity, to extinguish the malignant passions; to curb the violence, to control the appetites, and to smooth the asperities of man; to make us compassionate and kind, and forgiving one to another; to make us good husbands, good fathers, good friends; and to render us active and useful in the discharge of the relative social and civil duties?"
5. "Christianity recognizes no innocence or goodness of heart, but in the remission of sin, and in the effects of the operation of divine grace."
6. "I am disturbed when I see the majority of so-called Christians having such little understanding of the real nature of the faith they profess. Faith is a subject of such importance that we should not ignore it because of the distractions or the hectic pace of our lives."
7. "Surely the principles of Christianity lead to action as well as meditation."
8. "I would suggest that faith is everyone's business. The advance or decline of faith is so intimately connected to the welfare of a society that it should be of particular interest to a politician."
9. "It makes no sense to take the name of Christian and not cling to Christ. Jesus is not some magic charm to wear like a piece of jewellery we think will give us good luck. He is the Lord. His name is to be written on our hearts in such a powerful way that it creates within us a profound experience of His peace and a heart that is filled with His praise."
10. "Both man and woman have their own parts to play in bringing faith to the next generation, and the woman's role is particularly important. How can we ever think that the female sex is inferior when we see the essential responsibility God has given women in this world? Their sensitivity to spiritual concerns seems to be far more innate and natural than a man's. Mothers and wives often are the medium for our intercourse with the heavenly world, the faithful repositories of spiritual knowledge and wisdom. We should all be careful to avail ourselves of the benefits they have to offer both the present generation and the one that will follow us."
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