The 700 Club with Pat Robertson

Eric Metaxas

Author of 30 children's books

Writings have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, New York Times, Washington Post, Christianity Today, National Review Online, etc.

Former editorial director and head writer, Rabbit Ears Productions

Scripts narrated by Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Jodie Foster, etc

Former writer and editor of Chuck Colson's syndicated daily radio program Breakpoint

Graduate, Yale University


Eric Metaxas: The Song of an Unsung Hero

By The 700 Club

CBN.comThe movie Amazing Grace, which opens today, February 23, is about "one of the greatest forgotten heroes of humanity,” William Wilberforce (1759–1833), who was a British politician and humanitarian.  Author Eric Metaxas calls the unsung hero a victim of his own success.   Wilberforce fought the cause of ending slavery in the British Empire so well, that the subsequent generations soon forgot about him. 

Wilberforce didn't just fight a way of life, but he helped change a whole mindset. Eric says, "No politician has ever used his faith to a greater result for all of humanity, and that is why, in his day, Wilberforce was a moral hero far more than a political one." 

Both Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln hailed him as an inspiration and example.  Other historic figures that sing the praises of Wilberforce are Frederick Douglas, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Georg Elliot, Henry David Thoreau, John Greenleaf Whittier, Byron, Samuel Morse, and William Lloyd Garrison.

The slave trade was the economic basis of the British Empire.  It was the foundation for the profits of their West Indian colonies for the sugar and rum plantation owners, merchants and slavers.  The slavers sailed a triangular course, taking trade goods from Europe to Africa to exchange for slaves, shipping the slaves across the Atlantic to the West Indies, and then carrying their tropical cargo of sugar, rum and spices back home for sale.  It was a high risk/high reward business in which many young Englishmen made their fortunes. 

Conditions aboard slave vessels were appalling.  Men, women and children were chained together in a cramped hold of the ships in their own vomit and excrement.  Once in the West Indies, the slaves were kept on board to be cleaned and fattened up for sale. 

Wilberforce was elected to Parliament in 1780 at age 21, and during the campaign he formed a lifelong friendship with William Pitt, the Younger, (a British politician of the late 18th, early 19th centuries,) whose measures he generally supported in the House of Commons. 

During a tour of the continent in 1785, Wilberforce had a dramatic Christian conversion.  This decision affected his entire outlook and caused him to withdraw from "fashionable society."

For 20 years, Wilberforce was parliamentary leader for the campaign for the abolition of the slave trade.  He pressed unsuccessfully for more humane criminal laws with Thomas Clarkson (an abolitionist) and others. He also organized (1802) the Society for the Suppression of Vice and took part in other evangelical activities for social improvement.

The abolition of the slave trade by the British Parliament was achieved in 1807. When it became apparent that the measure would not cause the natural demise of slavery, Wilberforce directed his efforts to the suppression of the institution throughout the British Empire. A bill to this effect was passed three days before his death in 1833.

Wilberforce wrote A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians (1797), a work that enjoyed wide popularity both in Britain and on the continent.

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