Fathers of the Victorians: The Age of Wilberforce

Fathers of the Victorians: The Age of Wilberforce

Fathers of the Victorians: The Age of Wilberforce

Fathers of the Victorians: The Age of Wilberforce


The timid defensive state, in which christians have long been contented to stand, in respect of the gentile world, has tended greatly to extinguish the spirit of zeal for the conversion of sinners at home . . . but if once the servants of God should . . . declare offensive war against the kingdom of the devil . . . zeal for pure christianity in our own country and in our own hearts, will revive in proportion.


You have, as yet, not met every where, with equal success; but it has, however, uniformly been such that all intelligent Christians agree, that with the NINETEENTH century, A NEW ERA has begun betwixt CHRIST and BELIAL. THE ADHERENTS OF BOTH ARE ARMING on either side.

The Calvinists' Convention at Herrnhuth to the London Missionary Convention; communicated by BROTHER STEINKOPFF, 1807

If the Lord wills, our work goes on. If it be his pleasure that we should exist, still let his enemies and ours, against whom we have drawn the sword, know this, that we . . . are still the adversaries of the uncircumcised in purpose of heart.

The Christian Review and Clerical Magazine, 1829

This is the story of a movement of national reform that took place in England from the 1780's to the early years of the Princess Victoria, or roughly through the lifetime of Lord Byron. Begun by a handful of men and women shocked at the decay of English religion and the corruption of English morals, it grew rapidly into huge proportions. In thirty years it had covered England with reforming institutions and made its leader one of the foremost moral figures of the world. It left a lasting impression on all English-speaking countries.

The moral scene in England as these people saw it at the beginning of what has been called the Age of Elegance was a spectacle of horror, a nightmare of depravity, vice, sin and infidelity. In 1785 William Wilberforce, the young Member of Parliament for Hull, recorded his 'despair of the republic', caused by 'the universal corruption and profligacy of the times, which taking its rise amongst the rich and luxurious has now extended its baneful influence and spread its destruc-

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