Wilberforce's Dark Night of the Soul

Amazing GraceI've only just got to see Amazing Grace on a flight back from New Zealand. For some reason the film has only just been released in Australia.

The experience inspired me to pick up John Pollock's biography of Wilberforce. Pollock tells the story of Wilberforce's "Dark Night of the Soul" recorded in a small red leather notebook he kept as a journal throughout his struggle.

It provides a rare insight into the inner journey of a great movement leader. At one point he prays:

Lord, thou knowest that no strength, wisdom or contrivance of human power can signify, or relieve me. It is by thy power alone to deliver me.

I fly to thee for succour and support, O Lord let it come speedily; give me proof of thy Almighty power; I am in great troubles, unsurmountable by me; but to thee slight and inconsiderable; look upon me O Lord with compassion and mercy, and restore me to rest, quietness, and comfort, in the world or removing me hence into a state of peace and happiness, Amen.

His prayers reveal that he dreaded the fight for Abolition. Contemplating the opposition, the possibility of physical assault and of losing friends who owned slaves.

He prays again:

Almighty God, under all my weakness and uncertain prospects give me grace to trust firmly in thee, that I may not sink under my sorrows or be disquieted by the fears of those evils which cannot without thy permission fall upon me. . . .

By the time he stops using the notebook his prayers ask calmly for grace to do his duty, freedom from worldly motives, from desire for applause and from the temptation to depend on human aid alone.

Pollock's biography is out of print. But I hear good reports of the one by Eric Metaxas.

"Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery" (Eric Metaxas)

LeadershipSpiritual FormationWilliam Wilberforce