in anticipation of this movie, i was provoked to read the book above, as it contains biographical sketches of William Wilberforce and John Newton. as i read about Wilberforce, i was struck by his joy… John Piper (the author) writes the following:
“There was in [his] childlike love of children and joyful freedom from care a deeply healthy self-forgetfulness. Richard Wellesly, Duke of Wellington, wrote after a meeting with Wilberforce, ‘You have made me so entirely forget you are a great man by seeing to forget it yourself in all our intercourse.’ The effect of this self-forgetting joy was another mark of mental and spiritual health, namely, a joyful ability to see all the good in the world instead of being consumed by one’s own problems (even when those problems were huge).
Wilberforce’s friend, James Mackintosh, spoke of that remarkable trait of healthy, adult childlikeness, namely, the freedom from self-absorption that is interested in the simplest and most ordinary things: ‘If I were called upon to describe Wilberforce in one word, I should say that he was the most “amusable” man I ever met in my life. Instead of having to think of what subjects will interest him it is perfectly impossible to hit one that does not. I never saw anyone who touched life at so many points and this is the more remarkable in a man who is supposed to live absorbed in the contemplation of a future state. When he was in the House of Commons he seemd to have the freshest mind of any man there. There was all the charm of youth about him.'”
Piper continues to say of Wilberforce: “…his idomitable joy moved others to be happy and good… He sustained himself and swayed others by his joy.”
i am so provoked by this! how i long to have joy that causes me to forget myself, that allows me to find amusement and delight in all things around me, and to encourage others by my joy as well!
(note: i have no expectation of the movie portraying this aspect of wilberforce’s life much – if at all – but i greatly enjoyed reading more about this amazing man of God!)