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William WilberforceHis Unpublished Spiritual Journals

William Wilberforce

His Unpublished Spiritual Journals

William Wilberforce and Michael D. McMullen
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These spiritual journals will give readers insight into the heart and mind of one of Britain’s leading abolitionists.


William Wilberforce (1759–1833) is best remembered as a leading figure in the movement to have the slave trade abolished throughout the British Empire. He was a Member of Parliament from the age of 21 until he retired due to ill health at the age of 66. His conversion in 1785 caused him to change his lifestyle and to commit his future life and work to the service of God.


He wrote a series of spiritual journals as a record of his spiritual pilgrimage. These journals are an honest record of Wilberforce’s spiritual life: the Scriptures and Christian books he read; people he met; people he witnessed to; his spiritual and physical struggles; and many other fascinating insights.


Throughout his writings his constant desire to be a better Christian is striking. This man, admired by many, saw himself as a sinner, and his diaries are filled with his striving to put this sin to death. He follows a Puritan pattern of self–introspection and his journals are form of spiritual confession.


Michael McMullen has transcribed the original manuscripts and has added many helpful annotations and footnotes. Scripture passages, book titles, names of people and events are clarified. These annotations will assist the reader to better understand the context and value of the journals. This work gives an invaluable insight into the life and motivations of William Wilberforce. There is much to be gleaned from his example in life and culture today.

William Wilberforce

About William Wilberforce

William Wilberforce (1759 – 1833) was a British politician, philanthropist and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade.

Michael D. McMullen

About Michael D. McMullen

Dr. Michael D. McMullen is Professor of Church History at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City.



William Wilberforce has long been regarded as the classic example of evangelical activism in the long eighteenth century. His tenacious fight against the barbarous inhumanity of the slave trade and slavery have made him an iconic hero for many in our day. But what is often not remembered is the spiritual matrix out of which Wilberforce drew the resources to wage his indomitable battle for justice and social righteousness. Prof McMullen has put us all in his debt by editing these previously–unpublished diaries of this great human being. They reveal that Wilberforce’s love for the African people was intimately tied to his ardent Christian spirituality. Wilberforce was a man who lived life coram deo. May the reading of these diaries inspire many in our day to do likewise and attempt great things for God.

Michael A. G. Haykin, Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky

Despite the numerous demands and pressures of parliamentary business, social contacts and family commitments on his time, Wilberforce consistently set aside over an hour each day, and many more on Sundays, for personal and family Bible reading, prayer and meditation. It is a tremendous service to have this Journal transcribed and a bonus to have the excellent introductions to each section.

Marylynne Rouse, The John Newton Project,
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