This past weekend I was "drinking from a firehose" at the annual HEAV homeschool convention. There are so many that struck me--and so many thoughts and hopes and dreams and desires milling around in my head--that I am sort of reeling to process it all. But one thing that impacted me was a brief meditation that spoke of the life of William Wilberforce. It must have struck my husband, too, because I received a link to the following words about him from iivo in my email not soon after.
William died on 29 July 1833 and Parliament resolved that he should be buried in Westminster Abbey. His grave is next to William Pitt in the north transept and in 1840 a statue, by Samuel Joseph, was set up nearby in the north choir aisle. The inscription reads:
TO THE MEMORY OF WILLIAM WILBERFORCE (BORN IN HULL AUGUST 24th 1759, DIED IN LONDON JULY 29th 1833;) FOR NEARLY HALF A CENTURY A MEMBER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, AND, FOR SIX PARLIAMENTS DURING THAT PERIOD, ONE OF THE TWO REPRESENTATIVES FOR YORKSHIRE. IN AN AGE AND COUNTRY FERTILE IN GREAT AND GOOD MEN, HE WAS AMONG THE FOREMOST OF THOSE WHO FIXED THE CHARACTER OF THEIR TIMES; BECAUSE TO HIGH AND VARIOUS TALENTS, TO WARM BENEVOLENCE, AND TO UNIVERSAL CANDOUR, HE ADDED THE ABIDING ELOQUENCE OF A CHRISTIAN LIFE. EMINENT AS HE WAS IN EVERY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC LABOUR, AND A LEADER IN EVERY WORK OF CHARITY, WHETHER TO RELIEVE THE TEMPORAL OR THE SPIRITUAL WANTS OF HIS FELLOW-MEN, HIS NAME WILL EVER BE SPECIALLY IDENTIFIED WITH THOSE EXERTIONS WHICH, BY THE BLESSING OF GOD, REMOVED FROM ENGLAND THE GUILT OF THE AFRICAN SLAVE TRADE, AND PREPARED THE WAY FOR THE ABOLITION OF SLAVERY IN EVERY COLONY OF THE EMPIRE: IN THE PROSECUTION OF THESE OBJECTS HE RELIED, NOT IN VAIN, ON GOD; BUT IN THE PROGRESS HE WAS CALLED TO ENDURE GREAT OBLOQUY AND GREAT OPPOSITION: HE OUTLIVED, HOWEVER, ALL ENMITY; AND IN THE EVENING OF HIS DAYS, WITHDREW FROM PUBLIC LIFE AND PUBLIC OBSERVATION TO THE BOSOM OF HIS FAMILY. YET HE DIED NOT UNNOTICED OR FORGOTTEN BY HIS COUNTRY: THE PEERS AND COMMONS OF ENGLAND, WITH THE LORD CHANCELLOR AND THE SPEAKER AT THEIR HEAD, IN SOLEMN PROCESSION FROM THEIR RESPECTIVE HOUSES, CARRIED HIM TO HIS FITTING PLACE AMONG THE MIGHTY DEAD AROUND, HERE TO REPOSE: TILL, THROUGH THE MERITS OF JESUS CHRIST, HIS ONLY REDEEMER AND SAVIOUR, (WHOM, IN HIS LIFE AND IN HIS WRITINGS HE HAD DESIRED TO GLORIFY,) HE SHALL RISE IN THE RESURRECTION OF THE JUST.
I am quite certain that I will never do anything as outwardly grand and world-changing as William Wilberforce did--though I do hope to be as faithful to follow whatever small orders The Lord sends my way--but I pray with every fiber of my being to be daily transformed and sanctified in Him such that one day it can be said of me also that I "added the abiding eloquence of a Christian life."