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John Wesley at age 48

Letter to William Wilberforce

John Wesley's last letter was to William Wilberforce, who had been converted under Wesley's ministry and was a member of Parliament. Wesley expressed his opposition to slavery and encouraged Wilberforce to take action. Parliament finally outlawed England's participation in the slave trade in 1807.


Wesley writes- Click for larger image

Balam, February 24, 1791

Dear Sir:

Unless the divine power has raised you us to be as Athanasius contra mundum, I see not how you can go through your glorious enterprise in opposing that execrable villainy which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature. Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing! Go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.

Reading this morning a tract wrote by a poor African, I was particularly struck by that circumstance that a man who has a black skin, being wronged or outraged by a white man, can have no redress; it being a "law" in our colonies that the oath of a black against a white goes for nothing. What villainy is this?

That he who has guided you from youth up may continue to strengthen you in this and all things, is the prayer of, dear sir,

Your affectionate servant, John Wesley

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Notes

The graphic of John Wesley writing his letter to William Wilberforce was scanned from A. B. Hyde, The Story of Methodism Throughout the World (Springfield, MA: Willey & Co., 1889), p. 237. and is in the public domain.

The top left drawing depicts the Reverend John Wesley (1703-1791) at age 48. All of the black and white drawings have been scanned from public domain nineteenth century or early twentieth century Methodist history books. Please acknowledge this web site, John Wesley: Holiness of Heart and Life if you reproduce these. A few graphics are available in high resolution format, suitable for print media.

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