Ray Ortlund|8:05 AM CT

Wilberforce and goofing off

One evidence of trust in God is the capacity, within the rhythm of life, to play as well as to work.  William Wilberforce, for example, abolished the British slave trade against intense opposition.  But when at home, he left the cause in God’s hands and lived a humane, sustainable existence with his family:

“No account of Wilberforce’s life can be complete without an attempt to show him in the midst of his loving family and friends.  His had always been a curiously disorganized household.  Robert Southey, the poet, tells of a visit to Keswick in 1818.  ‘Wilbeforce has been here with all his household, and such a household!  The principle of the family seems to be that, provided the servants have faith, good works are not to be expected from them, and the utter disorder which prevails in consequence is truly farcical. . . . I have seen nothing in such pell mell topsy turvy chaotic confusion as Wilberforce’s apartments.  His wife sits in the midst of it like patience on a monument, and he frisks about as if every vein in his body were filled with quicksilver; but with all, there is such a constant hilarity in every look and motion, such a sweetness in all his tones, such a benignity in all his thoughts, words and actions, that . . . you can feel nothing but love and admiration for a creature of so happy and blessed a nature.’”

Patrick Cormack, Wilberforce: The Nation’s Conscience (Basingstoke, 1983), pages 108-109.

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