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his conduct. To the operation of this tendencies of his mind, and repaired to principle he is indebted for all his moral London for the purpose of removing greatness, his political importance, and him from the scene of such dangerous the character which will go down with contagion. On his return to Hull, the his name to the latest posterity. Reli- impressions received at Wimbledon were gion made him what he was, and qua- soon obliterated. Amid the gaieties of the lified and enabled him to attempt, and circle in which he moved he lost the by perseverance to accomplish, some of solemn convictions of his childhood. His the noblest purposes that were ever enter- irreligious relatives rejoiced in the tained in a human bosom. And of what change, and did their utmost to promote nature that religion was, how it took it. Indeed, he himself observes, “that possession of his soul and became the no pious parent ever laboured more to governing principle of his life, the fol- impress a beloved child with sentiments lowing brief narrative will disclose. of piety than they did to give me a taste
Mr. Wilberforce was born at Hull on for the world and its diversions." the 24th of August, 1759. His father That they too well succeeded, the was an opulent merchant in that town. years of his boyhood and youth to the His ancestors occupied, about five miles time of his conversion to God sufficiently from York, a mansion in a township and painfully attest. Mr. Wilberforce, which has the name of Wilberfoss. After at the age of thirty-eight, ventures to a gradual decline in wealth and numbers speculate on the probable result, had he the family disappeared from the place continued under his uncle's roof, “I about a century ago. The grandfather should probably have been a bigoted, of Mr. Wilberforce was engaged in the despised Methodist.” It is possible, but Baltic trade in Hull, and with his patri- then how many years of thoughtless monial fortune inherited a considerable levity and sin would he have avoided ! landed property. Robert, the younger And after all he did not escape the dreadof his two children, father of William ed imputation-with Methodism he was Wilberforce, was a partner in the house branded. His bigotry (if indeed bigotry at Hull; and here was spent the early ever had a place in his bosom) took anchildhood of his distinguished son. Of other direction. this little more is known than that his After continuing till the year 1776 at constitution was so feeble, his frame so the endowed grammar-school at Pockdelicate, that for several years fears were lington, he removed to Cambridge. And entertained for his life. It also appears here, to a youth of seventeen what scenes that he gave early indications of his were disclosed ! Against such contamiaffectionate disposition and ready elocu- nation as he describes only a special Protion. His father died before he com- vidence could have preserved him. “I pleted his ninth year, and he was in con- was introduced,” he says, on the very sequence transferred to the care of a pa- night of my arrival, to as licentious a set ternal uncle residing at Wimbledon, in of men as can well be conceived. They Surrey. Here he was placed at school, drank hard, and their conversation was where
they taught every thing and even worse than their lives. I lived nothing." His aunt, to whose care he among them for some time, though I was at this tender and susceptible age never relished their society, often entrusted, was deeply imbued with a indeed I was horror-struck at their conreligious spirit, and warmly attached to duct. . . . . . And after the first year, the ministry of Whitfield. Under her I shook off in a great measure my conpious instructions, he acquired a fami- nexion with them." liarity with the sacred writings, and a In Mr. Wilberforce's time the whole habit of devotion of which the results system of this celebrated seat of learning were perceptible throughout the whole was corrupt. The gownsmen freely inof his mature life.
dulged in the vices of the day, while the At this period he wrote several re- fellows and tutors conspired to foment ligious letters, and in accordance with the pride and indolence of every man of the opinions he afterwards renounc- fortune. “ The fellows of the college," ed, but to which he returned when he says, “ did not act towards me the part he experienced a real change of heart. of Christians, or even of honest men; His mother, whom he describes as their object seemed to be to make and Archbishop Tillotson's Christian," (or- keep me idle." thodox, but cold,) was alarmed at the To one of them, in the year 1822, he
writes with a fidelity which makes one arguments to prove the authenticity of shudder at the responsibility so fearfully Rowley's Poems;" yet so rich and so abused. Speaking of his vain and dissi- accomplished an aspirant could not be pated conduct at college, and during the long excluded from the mysteries of the three or four first years of his parliament- world of fashion which now burst upon ary life, which immediately succeeded, he him. Five clubs enrolled him among observes, “ Even at college, those very men their members. He chatted, played at who ought tohave used both authority and cards, or gambled with Fox, Sheridan, influence (and of the latter at least I was and Fitzpatrick; fascinated the Prince of susceptible) to root out those propensi. Wales by his singing at Devonshire ties and implant better, rather confirmed House; produced inimitable imitations than abated them. I must do both you of Lord North's voice and manner; sang and Cookson the justice to exempt you
catches with Lord Sandwich ; exchanged in a good degree from this charge, though epigrams with Mrs. Crewe ; partook of to be honest with you, not entirely. For a Shakspearian dinner at the Boar in would not the golden rule have prompted Eastcheap ; “ shirked the Duchess of you to use towards me the language of a Gordon ; and danced till five in the friend, if not of a father? (My natural morning at Almack's." Yet was he not father I lost when eight years old, and my the mere idler or the fashionable lounger. grandfather and uncle soon after I went Though so young and so captivated by the to Cambridge.) Ought you not to have scenes of frivolity and dissipation around urged me to look forward: and even on him, he was unremitting in his attention principles of sound human wisdom, much to his Parliamentary duties. With Mr. more on Christian principles to consider Pitt he lived on terms of intimacy; and what must be the issue of the course of this friendship, which but for the interlife I was pursuing, and of the choice I vention of his religious change would was making of associates and friends ?” have increased with their years, gave to After much more that is severe, because Mr.Wilberforce that particular bias which it is so mild and gentle, he adds :-“You has exposed him so much to the cendid not spend night after night at cards sure of the friends of liberal government with me, but did you suggest to me the and a free constitution. When at Wimfate of the unprofitable servant ?” bledon he was constantly receiving visit
At college, however, notwithstanding ors of rank and talent. Mr. Pitt was the above acknowledgment, he was not rather an inmate than a guest. strictly dissipated; and far, very far, The parliamentary vacation of this from every approach to the gross sensu- period found him on the banks of the alities of vice. Of his acquirements at Windermere surrounded “ with a goodly the University, under such hopeful guides assortment of books,” and among the and examples, he says, “I was a good lakes and mountains of Westmoreland, classic, and acquitted myself well in the with continual parties enjoying the amusecollege examinations ; but mathematics, ments adapted to the season and the which my mind greatly needed, I almost scenery. entirely neglected, and was told that I We must pass over his visit to France was too clever to require them."
in the autumn of 1783, and merely stop Mr. Wilberforce having determined to glance at the circumstance which reto enter upon public life, passed at a moved him from the representation of single step from the University to the his native town to become a member for House of Commons. The general elec- the county, the largest, the most opu. tion of 1780 occurring within less than lent and populous, in the British empire. a month from the completion of his The infamous Coalition, as it has always twenty-first year, he commenced a can- and justly been stigmatised, in which vass for the representation of his native there was so much sacrifice of political town in Parliament: and the affection consistency, and such evident destitution of his townsmen, aided and stimulated of all public principle, was at the comby the expenditure upon them and among mencement of the year 1784 the subject them, of from eight to nine thousand of popular invective. At a public meetpounds, placed him triumphant at the ing in the Castle-yard at York in March, head of the poll. Although at this time Mr. Wilberforce condemned these meas Mr. Wilberforce states himself to have sures in a speech which was received been “so ignorant of general society as with the greatest applause. James to have come up to London stored with Boswell, who witnessed the scene, in transmitting the account of it to Dundas, brilliant, but hardly of any enduring says, “I saw what seemed a mere shrimp fame. Ordinary foresight," observes mount upon the table, but as I listened the • Edinburgh Review,' might have he grew and grew until the shrimp be- predicted that he would be courted or came a whale."
The consequences of feared by the two great parties in the this speech were those at which the House of Commons; that he would be at speaker aimed. It diminished the influ- once the idol and the idolater of society; ence of the great Whig families of York- and that he would shine, in Parliament shire, and as the election was approach- and in the world, in the foremost rank ing, an opening was made for the intro- of intellectual voluptuaries. But that he duction of a new candidate. This was should rise to be amongst the most labofelt. The cry of “Wilberforce and rious and eminent benefactors of manliberty," was easily exchanged for kind was beyond the penetration of human “ Wilberforce and the representation of sagacity.” Yorkshire;" and the victory was achiev- That Mr. Wilberforce, in a moral and ed, without his principal opponents, the religious sense, was not only unprepared Whigs, venturing to the poll. With for the great revolution his principles this memorable triumph, Nr. Wilber- and life were about to experience, but force closed his twenty-fifth year, and also adverse to those Scriptural views returned to London in possession of which led to it, we learn from his decla. whatever could gratify the wishes or ration, that if he had suspected the clerexalt the hopes of a candidate for fame, gyman who was destined to be its inon the noblest theatre of civil action strument, of entertaining those views, he which the world had thrown open would not have accepted him as his tra. to the ambition of private men. If velling companion to the Continent. He we look at him at this period, just about had forgotten all the impressions proto enter upon his great career, from his duced by the assiduities of his pious known character and qualities, as far as relatives at Wimbledon, and could even they had then developed themselves, treat religious topics with lightness and what anticipations would the enlightened raillery. But there was an agency at work Christian philanthropist have been justi- which he did not recognise, and the time fied in forming of the course he would of its development was drawing near. pursuc, and the objects he would attain ! Upon the prorogation of Parliament in He possessed, indeed, and evinced from 1784, he determined on a Continental the first, an intense fellow-feeling for tour, and applied to a friend at York to other men.
No one more readily adopt- accompany him. To his great surprise ed the interests, sympathised with the the invitation was declined, when casuaffections, or caught even the transient ally meeting with a clergyman well known emotions of those with whom he asso- to him, and afterwards highly distinciated. Then he was cheerful, buoyant, guished both as a devout Christian and a full of hope. Ever ready to weep with dignitary of the Church, the offer was those that wept, his nature still more transferred to him. Isaac Milner, the strongly prompted him to rejoice with brother of Joseph, the ecclesiastical histhose that rejoiced. He was born for torian, and subsequently the Dean of society, of which he was the delight and Carlisle, was the person. He was not charm.
suspected of ultra views of religion, His talents were great in themselves, or of any strict conformity to its rebeautiful in their combinations, brilliant, quirements. Mr. Wilberforce describes joyous, and impressive in their exercise ; him as "free from every taint of vice, and, for his proper business as a senator, but not more attentive than others to reno man in the House was equal to him ligion. He appeared in all respects like in all points. He was equally endowed an ordinary man of the world, mixing by nature, and education, and condition. like myself in all companies, and joining And his return to Parliament at the age as readily as others in the prevalent of twenty-five as member for Yorkshire, Sunday parties.” carried in by the tide of popular enthu- With a clergyman of this stamp, the siasm, placed him on an enviable, though sentiments of the new member for York dangerous, eminence. And if no new seemed to be in perfect harmony. With element had been thrown into his moral a profligate, or a suspected profligate, in nature, completely to imbue, to sanctify, holy orders, he would have shuddered and direct it, his career might have been to associate ; and to an evangelical mi
nister, such as he had known in his precious time, and opportunities, and childhood at Wimbledon, he would have talents.” felt equal repugnance. But in Milner Having returned to Englard, he felt he soon found himself mistaken. If not that he was no longer what he was; and a spiritual man, Milner proved himself that it would be impossible for him to a sound and a sincere divine; and when live with the mere people of the world, religion came before him, or rather as he had formerly done. when he saw the necessity of making a For some months he was in a state of stand for it, against the cavils and taunts sad depression, and engaged in a course of his companion, he felt an awakening of religious exercises, with a view of rereverence in his heart. Discussion was lieving his overburdened heart. All beneficial to them both; for the nominal this nourished the new principle of spipiety of the one soon ripened into fruit; ritual life so mercifully vouchsafed to him. and the newly implanted principle in His convictions gathered strength ; his the other was not long in discovering its views expanded. He saw, and felt, and reality and its power in changing his loved the truth. Of this his friends and character and dignifying his pursuits. A the world must not remain ignorant. copy of Doddridge's “Rise and Pro- He felt that his general deportment gress of Religion” was possessed by one must be altered, and he did not think it of the party, and having been casually manly to suffer them to guess the cause. taken up by Wilberforce, the opinion of Mr. Pitt was one of the first to whom his friend was asked respecting it. “It the announcement was made. is one of the best books ever written," In his thirst after spiritual instruction said Milner. “Let us take it with us and consolation, there were few expeand read it on our journey.".
rienced Christians to whom he could His advice was followed, and Mr. open his heart. He felt at length a deWilberforce determined at some future termination to introduce his case to the period, to examine the Scriptures for Rector of St. Mary Woolnoth, the venehimself, in order to ascertain if they rable John Newton. coincided with the representations of the
may do good,” he writes in his Nonconformist author. This was done diary; "he will pray for me; his expeduring the following year, in company rience may enable him to direct me to with Milner, when they journeyed from new grounds of humiliation, and it is Genoa to Switzerland. Their conversa- that only which I can perceive God's tion now became more impressive and Spirit employ to any effect. It can do noabsorbing. The Greek Testament was harm, for that is a scandalous objection their daily companion, and its doctrines which keeps occurring to me, that if the subjects of thoughtful study. The ever my sentiments change, I shall be result was a deep impression on Mr. ashamed of having done it; it can only Wilberforce of the reality of religion, humble me, and whatever is the right and the correctness of the views which way, if truth be right, I ought to be Milner defended.
humbled; but sentiments change.” For a considerable time his convictions After having made an unsuccessful were fluctuating, and produced scarcely effort to call on Mr. Newton he wrote to any adequate effect. 'My conscience him.
he remarks, " that in the The letter begins, — "There is no true sense of the word I was not a Chris- need of apology for intruding on you, tian. ' I laughed, I sang, I was appa- when the subject is religion.” And conrently gay and happy; but the thought cludes with, “Remember I must be would steal across me, “What madness secret, and that the gallery of the House is all this, to continue easy in a state in is now so universally attended, that the which a sudden call out of the world face of a Member of Parliament is pretty would consign me to everlasting misery, well known.” and that, when eternal happiness is with- He obtained the interview, and remarks in my grasp !". These feelings produced, under the Divine blessing, the most “On the whole, he encouraged me, painful compunctions for sin. He charged though I got nothing new from him; as himself with deep guilt and black ingra- how could I, except a good hint that he titude; and fell ábased in the dust, when never found it answer to dispute, and he thought that he had lived in vain. “I that it was well not to make visits that condemned myself for having wasted my one disliked over agreeable. When I
came away I found my mind in a calm, lence of his spirit, the stricter regulatranquil state, more humbled, and look- tion of his temper, his desire to subdue ing more devoutly up to God."
opposition and to overcome prejudice by It was part of Mr. Newton's counsel a consistent display of the milder and that he should not hastily form new con- more attractive features of the Christian nexions, nor widely separate from his character. This was shown in his soli. former friends.
citude to remove the impressions which “ This very day, accordingly,” he his mother had received respecting his says, “as I promised, I went to Pitt
change. sad work. I went there in fear, and for “ It may tend,” he remarks, when some time kept an awe on my mind. anticipating a meeting with her in 1786, My feelings lessened in the evening, and “ to remove prejudices—if I am more I could scarce lift up myself in prayer to
kind and affectionate than ever, consult God at night.”
her more, show respect for her judg. He withdrew his name from all the ment, and manifest rather humility in clubs of which he was member. The myself than dissatisfaction concerning world gazed and admired; and though others." it could not love the change, yet was So completely did he accomplish his its enmity as to its expression greatly views that a female friend of his mosoftened and subdued by the amiable ther, commenting on his cheerfulness character of his piety. Without any de- and command of temper, remarked, “ If ficiency of strength or compass, it was this be madness, I hope that he will bite mainly visible in the growing benevo
ON THE GENERAL CALL OF THE GOSPEL. The propriety of preaching to unbe- not attempt to prove ; for they are ad. lievers, inviting all men to
mitted by those who doubt the propriety Christ, and the consistency of this prac- of the second set ; because these seem tice with Calvinistic principles, are opposed to Calvinism, which they justly questions of ancient date; and so much think the doctrine of Scripture. has been said, and well said, on the side That the Scriptures contain indiscri. which we espouse, that we should not minate addresses to all men, seems too now have recurred to the subject, had clear to need proof. Moses, the first of we not been requested by a correspond- the inspired writers, preaches to those in ent, whose communication has inspired Israel of whom he expressly says, “ The us with esteem for its author.
Lord hath not given you a heart to perWe assert, then, eternal predestina- ceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, tion to life, and particular election, with unto this day." In the second Psalm, the specific design of the atonement, the Holy Ghost says to the kings of the that it is not a lottery where chance earth, who set themselves against the awards the prizes, but that its saving Lord and his Messiah, “ Be wise now, effect was, not only foreseen, but prede- therefore, O ye kings, be instructed, ye termined. We maintain, also, in the judges of the earth ; serve the Lord with fullest sense, the necessity of Divine in- fear, and rejoice with trembling: kiss fluence to render the Gospel the power the son, lest he be angry, and ye perish of God to salvation; and we protest from the way.” In the Proverbs, wisagainst every thing in preaching which dom is exhibited, as "standing at the is really opposed to these principles. head of the way,” saying, “ As for him
But we assert, also, that the Gospel that lacketh understanding, turn in should be preached to every creature ; hither ; eat of my bread, and drink of that ministers are bound to "call upon the wine that I have mingled."| The all men every where to repent and be prophet Isaiah says, “Ho, every one lieve the Gospel;" and be reconciled to that thirsteth, come ye to the waters ;" God; and that they who refuse should
and Ezekiel says,
“ Turn ye, why will be charged with their own blood.
ye die P" In the New Testament, John The first set of propositions, which are usually termed Calvinistic, we need
+ Prov. viii. 9.
• Deut. xxix. 4.