A Practical View of Preferred Christians
Dwell awhile on the state of the ancient world; not merely on that benighted part of it where all lay buried in brutish ignorance and barbarism, but on the seats of civilized and polished nations, on the empire of taste, and learning, and philosophy... Behold their sottish idolatries, their absurd superstitions, their want of natural affection, their brutal excesses, their unfeeling oppression, their savage cruelty! -from "Inadequate Conceptions of the Corruptions of Human Nature" Its full title is A Practical View of Preferred Christians of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians in the Higher and Middle Classes in This Country Contrasted with Real Christianity, and it rings with the indignation and fervor only a new convert can bring to such a subject. In 1784, Wilberforce, a member of the House of Commons and formerly a bon vivant in demand for dinner parties and card games, was a newly minted Evangelical Christian; by 1797, he'd grown so appalled at the state of the souls of the British people that he published this manifesto, floridly scolding his fellow countrymen for their deficient Christianity. Flowery language aside, this incensed protest could well have been written today. British abolitionist and politician WILLIAM WILBERFORCE (1759-1833) founded the Society for the Suppression of Vice and was active in the Association for the Better Observance of Sunday.
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