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David J. (David Josiah) Brewer.

Crowned masterpieces of eloquence, representing the advance of civilization, as collected in The world's best orations, from the earliest period to the present time (Volume 10) online

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are not to receive the Holy Ghost so as to enable us to work
miracles; for, "Many will say in that day: We have cast out



GEORGE WHITEFIELD 24I

devils in thy name, and in thy name done many wonderful
works.** But we must receive the Holy Ghost to sanctify our
nature, to purify our hearts, and make us meet for heaven.
Unless we are born again, and have the Holy Ghost in our
hearts, if we were in heaven we could take no pleasure there.
The Apostle not only supposes we must have the Holy Ghost,
but he supposes, as a necessary ingredient to make up the king-
dom of God, in a believer's heart, that he must have "joy in the
Holy Ghost.** There are a great many, I believe, who think
religion is a poor, melancholy thing, and they are afraid to be
Christians. But, my dear friends, there is no true joy till you
can joy in God and Christ. I know wicked men and men of
pleasure will have a little laughter; but what is it, but like the
crackling of a few thorns under a pot ? it makes a blaze, and
soon goes out. I know what it is to take pleasure in sin; but I
always found the smart that followed was ten thousand times
more hurtful than any gratification I could receive. But they
who joy in God have a joy that strangers intermeddle not with
— ^it is a joy that no man can take from them; it amounts to a
full assurance of faith that the soul is reconciled to God through
Christ, that Jesus dwells in the heart; and when the soul reflects
on itself, it magnifies the Lord, and rejoices in God its Savior.
Thus we are told that *^ Zaccheus received Christ joyfully, ** that
**the eunuch went on his way rejoicing,** and that "the jailer
rejoiced in God with all his house.** O my friends, what joy
have they that know their sins are forgiven them ! What a
blessed thing is it for a man to look forward and see an endless
eternity of happiness before him, knowing that everything shall
work together for his good! — it is joy unspeakable and full of
glory. Oh, may God make you all partakers of it!

Here, then, we will put the kingdom of God together. It is
"righteousness,** it is "peace,** it is "joy in the Holy Ghost.*
When this is placed in the heart, God there reigns, God there
dwells and walks — the creature is a son or daughter of the Al-
mighty. But, my friends, how few are there here who have been
made partakers of this kingdom! Perhaps the kingdom of the
devil, instead of the kingdom of God, is in most of our hearts.
This has been a place much favored of God. May I hope some
of you can go along with me and say : " Blessed be God, we have
got righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost ** ? Have
you so ? Then you are kings, though beggars ; you are happy
10 — 16



242 GEORGE WHITEFIELD

above all men in the world — you have got heaven in your
hearts; and when the crust of your bodies drops, your souls will
meet with God, your souls will enter into the world of peace, and
you shall be happy with God for evermore. I hope there is none
of you who will fear death; fie for shame, if you do! What!
afraid to go to Jesus, to your Lord ? You may cry out : ^^ O death,
where is thy sting ? O grave, where is thy victory ? ^* You may
go on your way rejoicing, knowing that God is your friend; die
when you will, angels will carry you safe to heaven.

But, oh, how many are here in this churchyard who will be
laid in some grave ere long, who are entire strangers to this work
of God upon their souls! My dear friends, I think this is an
awful sight. Here are many thousands of souls that must shortly
appear with me, a poor creature, in the general assembly of all
mankind before God in judgment. God Almighty knows whether
some of you may not drop down dead before you go out of the
churchyard; and, yet, perhaps most are strangers to the Lord
Jesus Christ in their hearts. Perhaps curiosity has brought you
out to hear a poor babbler preach. But, my friends, I hope I
came out of a better principle. If I know anything of my heart,
I came to promote God's glory; and if the Lord should make use
of such a worthless worm, such a wretched creature as I am, to
do your precious souls good, nothing would rejoice me more than
to hear that God makes the foolishness of preaching a means of
making many believe. I was long myself deceived with a form
of godliness, and I know what it is to be a factor for the devil,
to be led captive by the devil at his will, to have the kingdom
of the devil in my heart; and I hope I can say through free
grace, I know what it is to have the kingdom of God erected in
me. It is God's goodness that such a poor wretch as I am con-
verted; though sometimes when I am speaking of God's goodness
I am afraid he will strike me down dead. Let me draw out my
soul and heart to you, my dear friends, my dear guilty friends,
poor bleeding souls, who must shortly take your last farewell and
fly into endless eternity. Let me entreat you to lay these things
seriously to heart this night. Now when the Sabbath is over
and the evening is drawing near, methinks the very sight is
awful (I could almost weep over you, as our Lord did over
Jerusalem) to think in how short a time every soul of you must
die — some of you to go to heaven and others to go to the devil
for evermore.



GEORGE WHITEFIELD



243



O my dear friends, these are matters of eternal moment. I
did not come to tickle your ears; if I had a mind to do so, I
would play the orator; no, but I came, if God should be pleased,
to touch your hearts. What shall I say to you ? Open the door
of your heart that the king of glory, the blessed Jesus, may come
in and erect his kingdom in your soul. Make room for Christ;
the Lord Jesus desires to sup with you to-night; Christ is willing
to come into any of your hearts that will be pleased to open and
receive him. Are there any of you made willing Lydias ? There
are many women here, but how many Lydias are there here ?
Does power go with the word to open your heart ? and find you
a sweet melting in your soul ? Are you willing ? Then Christ
Jesus is willing to come to you. But you may say: Will Christ
come to my wicked, polluted heart ? Yes, though you have many
devils in your heart, Christ will come and erect his throne there;
though the devils be in your heart, the Lord Jesus will scourge
out a legion of devils, and his throne shall be exalted in thy soul.
Sinners, be ye what you will, come to Christ, you shall have
righteousness and peace. If you have no peace, come to Christ
and he will give you peace. When you come to Christ you will
feel such joy that it is impossible for you to tell. O may God
pity you all! I hope this will be a night of salvation to some of
your souls.

My dear friends, I would preach with all my heart till mid-
night to do you good, till I could preach no more. Oh, that this
body might hold out to speak more for my dear Redeemer! Had
I a thousand lives, had I a thousand tongues, they should be em-
ployed in inviting sinners to come to Jesus Christ! Come, then,
let me prevail with some of you to come along with me. Come,
poor, lost, undone sinner, come just as you are to Christ, and say:
If I be damned I will perish at the feet of Jesus Christ, where
never one perished yet. He will receive you with open arms;
the dear Redeemer is willing to receive you all. Fly, then, for
your lives. The devil is in you while unconverted; and will you
go with the devil in your heart to bed this night ? God Almighty
knows if ever you and I shall see one another again. In one or
two days more I must go, and, perhaps, I may never see you
again till I meet you at the Judgment Day. Oh, my dear friends,
think of that solemn meeting; think of that important hour when
the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, when the ele-
ments shall melt with fervent heat, when the sea and the grave



244



GEORGE WHITEFIELD



shall be giving up their dead, and all shall be summoned to ap-
pear before the great God. What will you do then if the king-
dom of God is not erected in your hearts ? You must go to the
devil, — like must go to like, — if you are not converted. Christ
hath asserted it in the strongest manner: ^^ Verily, verily, I say
unto you: Except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the
kingdom of God.** Who can dwell with devouring fire? Who
can dwell with everlasting burnings ? Oh, my heart is melting
with love to you. Surely God intends to do good to your poor
souls. Will no one be persuaded to accept of Christ ? If those
who are settled Pharisees will not come, I desire to speak to you
who are drunkards, Sabbath-breakers, cursers, and swearers — will
you come to Christ ? I know that many of you come here out of
curiosity; though you come only to see the congregation, yet if
you come to Jesus Christ, Christ will accept of you. Are there
any cursing, swearing soldiers here ? Will you come to Jesus
Christ, and list yourselves under the banner of the dear Re-
deemer ? You are all welcome to Christ. Are there any little
boys or little girls here ? Come to Christ, and he will erect his
kingdom in you. There are many little children whom God is
working on, both at home and abroad. Oh, if some of the little
lambs would come to Christ, they shall have peace and joy in
the day that the Redeemer shall set up his kingdom in their
hearts. Parents tell them that Jesus Christ will take them in
his arms, that he will dandle them on his knees. All of you, old
and young, you that are old and gray-headed, come to Jesus
Christ, and you shall be kings and priests to your God. The
Lord will abundantly pardon you at the eleventh hour. ** Ho,
every one of you that thirsteth.* If there be any of you ambi-
tious of honor, do you want a crown, a sceptre ? Come to Christ,
and the Lord Jesus Christ will give you a kingdom that no man
shall take from yovL



WILLIAM WILBERFORCE.

After the Portrait by George Richmond, R. A. {lS09-tS96).




WILLIAM WILBERFORCE

(1759-1833)

Turing the eighteenth century, until Wilberforce began his
public career, the slave trade was one of the notable sources
of English commercial revenue, and the colonial policies of
the Empire were adapted to promote it. Wilberforce, who was born
August 24th, 1759, and educated at Cambridge, entered Parliament in
1780. In 1787, in connection with Thomas Clarkson, and with Pitt's
support, he began the agitation against the slave trade, which finally
ended in its abolition, and in the emancipation bill of August 1833,
passed a month after his death. His speech of May 12th, 1789, is the
keynote of English and American history for three quarters of a cen-
tury. It voices the sentiment of Jefferson and Washington, which
found expression in the prohibition of the slave trade embodied in
the American Constitution, and it inspired Brougham in England as
it did Seward in America to force issues against slavery, regardless
of << vested rights.'*



HORRORS OF THE BRITISH SLAVE TRADE IN THE
EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

(From the Debate on Wilberforce's Resolutions Respecting the Slave
Trade, in Parliament, May 12 th, 1789)

IN OPENING, concerning the nature of the slave trade, I need only
observe that it is found by experience to be just such as
every man who uses his reason would infallibly conclude it
to be. For my own part, so clearly am I convinced of the mis-
chiefs inseparable from it, that I should hardly want any further
evidence than my own mind would furnish, by the most simple
deductions. Facts, however, are now laid before the House. A
report has been made by his Majesty's privy council, which, I
trust, every gentleman has read, and which ascertains the slave
trade to be just such in practice as we know, from theory, it
must be. What should we suppose must naturally be the conse-

245



246



WILLIAM WILBERFORCE



qucncc of our carrying on a slave trade with Africa ? With a
country vast in its extent, not utterly barbarous, but civilized in
a very small degree ? Does any one suppose a slave trade would
help their civilization ? Is it not plain that she must suffer from
it? That civilization must be checked; that her barbarous man-
ners must be made more barbarous; and that the happiness of
her millions of inhabitants must be prejudiced with her inter-
course with Britain ? Does not every one see that a slave trade
carried on around her coasts must carry violence and desolation
to her very centre ? That in a continent just emerging from
barbarism, if a trade in men is established, if her men are all
converted into goods, and become commodities that can be bar-
tered, it follows they must be subject to ravage just as goods
are; and this, too, at a period of civilization, when there is no
protecting legislature to defend this their only sort of property,
in the same manner as the rights of property are maintained by
the legislature of every civilized country. We see then, in the
nature of things, how easily the practices of Africa are to be ac-
counted for. Her kings are never compelled to war, that we can
hear of, by public principles, by national glory, still less by the
love of their people. In Europe it is the extension of commerce,
the maintenance of national honor, or some great public object,
that is ever the motive to war with every monarch; but, in Af-
rica, it is -the personal avarice and sensuality, of their kings;
these two vices of avarice and sensuality, the most powerful and
predominant in natures thus corrupt, we tempt, we stimulate in
all these African princes, and we depend upon these vices for
the very maintenance of the slave trade. Does the king of Bar-
bessin want brandy ? he has only to send his troops, in the night-
time, to burn and desolate a village; the captives will serve as
commodities, that may be bartered with the British trader. What
a striking view of the wretched state of Africa does the tragedy
of Calabar furnish! Two towns, formerly hostile, had settled
their differences, and by an intermarriage among their chiefs,
had each pledged themselves to peace; but the trade in slaves
was prejudiced by such pacifications, and it became, therefore, the
policy of our traders to renew the hostilities. This, their policy,
was soon put in practice, and the scene of carnage which fol-
lowed was such, that it is better, perhaps, to refer gentlemen to
the privy council's report than to agitate their minds by dwell-
ing on it.



WILLIAM WILBERFORCE 247

The slave trade, in its very nature, is the source of such kind
of tragedies; nor has there been a single person, almost, before
the privy council, who does not add something by his testimony
to the mass of evidence upon this point. Some, indeed, of these
gentlemen, and particularly the delegates from Liverpool, have
endeavored to reason down this plain principle : some have palli-
ated it; but there is not one, I believe, who does not more or
less admit it. Some, nay most, I believe, have admitted the slave
trade to be the chief cause of wars in Africa. . . .

Having now disposed of the first part of this subject, I must
speak of the transit of the slaves in the West Indies. This, I
confess, in my own opinion, is the most wretched part of the
whole subject. So much misery condensed in so little room is
more than the human imagination had ever before conceived. I
will not accuse the Liverpool merchants; I will allow, them, nay,
I will believe them, to be men of humanity; and I will therefore
believe, if it were not for the multitude of these wretched objects,
if it were not for the enormous magnitude and extent of the evil
which distracts their attention from individual cases, and makes
them think generally, and therefore less feelingly on the subject,
they never would have persisted in the trade. I verily believe,
therefore, if the wretchedness of any one of the many hundred
negroes stowed in each ship could be brought before their view,
and remain within the sight of the African merchant, that there
is no one among them whose heart would bear it. Let any one
imagine to himself six or seven hundred of these wretches chained
two and two, surrounded with every object that is nauseous and
disgusting, diseased, and struggling under every kind of wretched-
ness! How can we bear to think of such a scene as this? One
would think it had been determined to heap on them all the
varieties of bodily pain, for the purpose of blunting the feelings
of the mind; and yet, in this very point (to show the power of
human prejudice), the situation of the slaves has been described
by Mr. Norris, one of the Liverpool delegates, in a manner which
I am sure will convince the House how interest can draw a film
over the eyes, so thick, that total blindness could do no more;
and how it is our duty therefore to trust not to the reasonings of
interested men, or to their way of coloring a transaction, " Their
apartments,^* says Mr, Norris, *' are fitted up as much for their
advantage as circumstances will admit. The right ankle of one,
indeed, is connected with the left ankle of another by a small



g WILLIAM WILBERFORCE

iron fetter, and if they are turbulent, by another on their wrists.
They have several meals a day; some of their own country pro-
visions, with the best sauces of African cookery; and by the way
of variety, another meal of pulse, etc., according to European
taste. After breakfast they have water to wash themselves, while
their apartments are perfumed with frankincense and lime juice.
Before dinner they are amused after the manner of their country.
The song and the dance are promoted,*' and, as if the whole were
really a scene of pleasure and dissipation, it is added that games
of chance are furnished. ** The men play and sing, while the
women and girls make fanciful ornaments with beads, which they
are plentifully supplied with.'* Such is the sort of strain in which
the Liverpool delegates, and particularly Mr, Norris, gave evidence
before the privy council. What will the House think when, by
the concurring testimony of other witnesses, the true history is
laid open. The slaves, who are sometimes described as rejoicing
at their captivity, are so wrung with misery at leaving their
country, that it is the constant practice to set sail in the night,
lest they should be sensible of their departure. The pulse which
Mr. Norris talks of are horse beans; and the scantiness of both
water and provision was suggested by the very legislature of
Jamaica, in the report of their committee, to be a subject thai
called for the interference of Parliament.

Mr. Norris talks of frankincense and lime juice; when the
surgeons tell you the slaves are stowed so close that there is not
room to tread among them; and when you have it in evidence
from Sir George Younge, that even in a ship which wanted two
hundred of her complement, the stench was intolerable. The song
and the dance are promoted, says Mr. Norris. It had been more
fair, perhaps, if he had explained that word " promoted. ** The
truth is, that for the sake of exercise, these miserable wretches,
loaded with chains, oppressed with disease and wretchedness, are
forced to dance by the terror of the lash, and sometimes by the
actual use of it. "I,** says one of the other evidences, ^* was em-
ployed to dance the men, while another person danced the women. *
Such, then, is the meaning of the word << promoted >' ; and it may
be observed too, with respect to food, that an instrument is some-
times carried out, in order to force them to eat, which is the
same sort of proof how much they enjoy themselves in that in-
stance also. As to their singing, what shall we say when we
are told that their songs are songs of lamentation upon their



WILLIAM WILBERFORCE 249

departure which, while they sing, are always in tears, insomuch
that one captain (more humane as I should conceive him, there-
fore, than the rest) threatened one of the women with a flogging,
because the mournfulness of her song was too painful for his
feelings. In order, however, not to trust too much to any sort
of description, I will call the attention of the House to one
species of evidence, which is absolutely infallible. Death, at
least, is a sure ground of evidence, and the proportion of deaths
will not only confirm, but, if possible, will even aggravate our
suspicion of their misery in the transit. It will be found, upon
an average of all ships of which evidence has been given at the
privy council, that, exclusive of those who perish before they
sail, not less than twelve and one-half per cent, perish in the
passage. Besides these, the Jamaica report tells you that not less
than four and one-half per cent, die on shore before the day of
sale, which is only a week or two from the time of landing.
One-third more die in the seasoning, and this in a country ex-
actly like their own, where they are healthy and happy, as some
of the evidences would pretend. The diseases, however, which
they contract on shipboard, the astringent washes which are to
hide their wounds, and the mischievous tricks used to make them
up for sale, are, as the Jamaica report says, — a most precious and
valuable report, w^hich I shall often have to advert to, — one prin-
cipal cause of this mortality. Upon the whole, however, here is
a mortality of about fifty per cent., and this among negroes who
are not bought unless quite healthy at first, and unless (as the
phrase is with cattle) they are sound in wind and limb. How
then can the House refuse its belief to the multiplied testimo-
nies, before the privy council, of the savage treatment of the
negroes in the middle passage ? Nay, indeed, what need is there
of any evidence ? The number of deaths speaks for itself, and
makes all such inquiry superfluous. As soon as ever I had ar-
rived thus far in my investigation of the slave trade, I confess
to you, sir, so enormous, so dreadful, so irremediable did its wick-
edness appear, that my own mind was completely made up for
the abolition. A trade founded in iniquity, and carried on as this
was, must be abolished, let the policy be what it might, — let the
consequences be what they would, I from this time determined
that I would never rest till I had affected its abolition. . . .
When we consider the vastness of the continent of Africa;
when we reflect how all other countries have for some centuries



2eQ WILLIAM WILBERFORCE

past been advancing in happiness and civilization; when we think
how in this same period all improvement in Africa has been de-
feated by her intercourse with Britain; when we reflect that it is
we ourselves that have degraded them to that wretched brutish-
ness and barbarity which we now plead as the justification of
our guilt; how the slave trade has enslaved their minds, black-
ened their character, and sunk them so low in the scale of ani-
mal beings that some think the apes are of a higher class, and
fancy the orang-outang has given them the go-by. What a mor-
tification must we feel at having so long neglected to think of
our guilt, or attempt any reparation! It seems, indeed, as if we
had determined to forbear from all interference until the measure
of our folly and wickedness was so full and complete; until the
impolicy which eventually belongs to vice was become so plain
and glaring that not an individual in the country should refuse
to join in the abolition; it seems as if we had waited until the
persons most interested should be tired out with the folly and ne-
fariousness of the trade, and should unite in petitioning against it.
Let us then make such amends as we can for the mischiefs
we have done to the unhappy continent; let us recollect what
Europe itself was no longer ago than three or four centuries.
What if I should be able to show this House that in a civilized
part of Europe, in the time of our Henry VH., there were peo-
ple who actually sold their own children ? What if I should tell
them that England itself was that country ? What if I should
point out to them that the very place where this inhuman traffic
was carried on was the city of Bristol ? Ireland at that time
used to drive a considerable trade in slaves with these neighbor-
ing barbarians; but a great plague having infested the country,
the Irish were struck with a panic, suspected (I am sure very
properly) that the plague was a punishment sent from heaven
for the sin of the slave trade, and therefore abolished it. All
I ask, therefore, of the people of Bristol is, that they would
become as civilized now as Irishmen were four hundred years
ago. Let us put an end at once to this inhuman traffic — let us
stop this effusion of human blood. The true way to virtue is by



Online LibraryDavid J. (David Josiah) BrewerCrowned masterpieces of eloquence, representing the advance of civilization, as collected in The world's best orations, from the earliest period to the present time (Volume 10) → online text (page 24 of 56)