Amazing Grace Essay
Amazing Grace is a Christian song written by John Newton. Newton was a
former Captain of a slave ship who became a monk to atone for his sins. He wrote
Amazing Grace after becoming a Christian. The movie, Amazing Grace, explains the
background of the song, which most Americans today are probably unaware of, and
serves as the song that motivated and encouraged William Wilberforce to seek an end to
slavery. Although Wilberforce is just 21 years old when he first enters political office, he
learns very quickly how to work in the political arena. Several years after entering office,
Wilberforce and William Pitt introduced a bill before the English Parliament that would
ban slavery in England. Although the bill was defeated, Wilberforce understood that this
was just the beginning the struggle against slavery. The driving forces behind
Wilberforce was his strong belief in God and a desire to abolish slavery. The movie is
about the personal and political struggles Wilberforce faced as he took on the English
establishment. In the end, Wilberforce??™s determination and perseverance persuades those
in power to end the inhumane slave trade in England.
In England, William Wilberforce, who was born into wealth and privilege, is a
member of Parliament and a Christian. Wilberforce was driven by his conscience and
inspired by John Newton to seek an end to slavery. Newton is also a close friend and
mentor to Wilberforce. At one point, Wilberforce was torn between abandoning politics
and serving God. Although his conscience was telling him that serving God in the
ministry was very important, Wilberforce also wanted to serve the people in Parliament.
At the time, Wilberforce??™s dilemma was to choose between the two. His good friend,
William Pitt (who later becomes Prime Minister of England) believes he can do both and
with the help of anti-slavery activists, they encourage Wilberforce to serve in politics and
fight to end slavery at the same time. Wilberforce finally agrees that he can do God??™s
work by serving in Parliament and leading the abolition cause because his faith in God
and his conscience would not allow him to accept the immorality of slavery.
Wilberforce understood that he had an up hill battle because, at the time, many in
Parliament believed Wilberforce was a radical, and he was but, he was a man of strong
faith also. Additionally, most of the key political people in Parliament did not support
ending slavery because slaves provided cheap labor for England??™s sugar plantations.
Unlike many in the seventeenth century, William Wilberforce did not view
slavery as a matter of individual conscience. Wilberforce believed that it was his duty as
a Christian, as well as all Christians, to oppose slavery. His own conscience lead him
to understand and recognize ???the moral quality of a concrete act??? that he might perform.
To Wilberforce, ignoring slavery would be similar to ignoring right from wrong. This
concern for doing what was right was demonstrated by Wilberforce in the beginning of
the movie when he witnessed a man beating an exhausted horse. Wilberforce confronts
the man and points out that the horse would be able to finish the work if he would allow
the horse to rest. Wilberforce??™s reasoning of the situation made sense to the man so he
stopped beating the horse and allowed it to rest. This is the same approach he used
to reveal the facts about slavery in an effort to persuade the English to do what was right.
Similar to how Jesus and God??™s Word sheds light on sin, Wilberforce wanted to shed
light on the injustices of slavery. By presenting the facts instead of angry accusations, he
allowed each man??™s conscience to do the convicting.
Wilberforce??™s struggles encourage each Christian to never quit even if everyone
is against us. Although Wilberforce was rejected, ridiculed, and suffered physically, he
never gave up. At times he probably thought God had abandoned him but John Newton
reminded him that ???God sometimes does his work with a gentle drizzle.???