Posts Tagged ‘william wilberforce’

On Slavery, Islam, the Sack of Baltimore – and “a Thief in the Night”

June 20, 2015

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Today, 20th June 2015, marks the 384th anniversary of “the sack of Baltimore.” On the night of 20th June 1631 Muslims from North Africa’s Algeria made a surprise raid on the village of Baltimore which lies on the coast of west Cork in Ireland. Thomas Osborne Davis (1814-1845) the Irish poet and politician describes the dreadful scene in his poem which is quoted in Des Ekin’s book “The Stolen Village.”

Most of those villagers (men, women and children) were carried far away to a life of slavery in North Africa; apparently only two of them ever saw Ireland again. I wonder what terrible stories they would have to tell us if they were alive today?

The Sack of Baltimore is said to have been “the most devastating invasion ever mounted by Islamist forces on Ireland or England.” Some of the prisoners would spend the rest of their lives chained to oars as galley slaves, while others may have been prisoners in harems. I can only imagine their horror as they tried to grow accustomed to the stifling heat of a new climate, while the peaceful seaside village that they once knew became a mere part of their dreams.

Today most people view slavery in terms of European slave traders whisking African prisoners away to a life of forced labour, something which was abhorrent to William Wilberforce, the Christian who headed the parliamentary campaign for the Abolition of Slavery. William Wilberforce (1759-1833) is said to have trusted the Saviour in 1785 and went on to campaign for many other worthy causes, including the Society for the Prevention of Vice, the foundation of the Church Missionary Society and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The words slave/slaves are only mentioned twice in the Bible (Authorised Version), given as an account, as it was part of the culture during certain periods of history. However, I believe that the Lord never intended that any man, woman or child should ever be a slave; even though, despite their slavery many souls triumphed in adversity and became followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed!” (John 8v36)

As opposed to this, the Koran, on the other hand allows slavery and there is evidence to suggest that slaves still exist in many parts of the Islamic world, particularly in Saudi Arabia, even though Saudi Arabia and Yemen are said to have abolished slavery in 1962. However, there are countries which presently claim that slavery has the sanction of Islam and within these countries slavery is said to be a current practice; these include Chad, Mauritania, Niger, Mali and Sudan.

Today we are facing the threat of invasive change on a global scale… but the invaders are much more subtle in their approach, pointing to ‘political correctness’ to further their aims and rapidly gaining positions of power in the political world. Nevertheless, for those who know Jesus as Saviour – “here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” (Hebrews 13v14)

I cannot even begin to imagine the trauma for those villagers in Baltimore all those years ago, when men, women and children were literally stolen away. The Algerian Muslims descended upon their peace “like a thief in the night.”

In 2Peter 3v10 we also read of a thief in the night: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”

The villagers of Baltimore never for one moment expected such a terrible thing to happen to the peaceful security of their lives in that village in the southwest tip of Ireland. They had no warning at all.

On the other hand, there is a warning to those who live in the world today of that ‘Day of the Lord’ which is to come. We are warned of this many many times in God’s Word and for those who are His servants it is our duty to warn others of His coming again – this time to judge the world.

“Behold I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” (Revelation 16v15)

As the signs of the times show us that “the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (James 5v8) may those who have never trusted Him, turn to the Lord in repentance and may those who know the Him as Saviour, be faithful to loved ones, neighbours, friends, acquaintances – yes, and even the very stranger they meet in day to day life…

Should Christians be Involved in Politics – or Even Vote?

March 9, 2011

After the recent general election and establishment of a new government in Ireland, I was thinking of those who don’t (or cannot) vote for one reason or another. However, few people realise that there is a substantial percentage of the population whose religious convictions prevent them from voting because of these words of Jesus: “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18v36) Yet I am also reminded of His words in Luke 20v25: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.”

As I go about my business every day, I am very much aware that (like it or not) I actually live and participate in this world; a world where I buy and sell (for the moment) and a world of political leaders who make decisions which affect the nature of our lives as human beings. Could I, for example, as a Christian, stand by and take no part in a referendum which would introduce ethnic cleansing? If I had lived during the era of Hitler’s regime, would I not, as a Christian, have had strong views on this man’s murderous attitude to the Jews, God’s ancient chosen people – and to other minority groups whom he abhorred?

Yes, as an individual I feel morally bound to use my vote but to be honest I find myself voting to keep certain candidates out, as opposed to putting people into government.

Unfortunately in Ireland there are political parties which have been (and very possibly still are) associated with terrorist organisations. Therefore, how can I, as a Christian, stand back and not use the tiny influence that I have in my vote to stop such political parties gaining power in my country? In Proverbs 28v5 I read: “Evil men understand not judgement: but they that seek the Lord understand all things.” Therefore I feel that as a Christian the Lord would have me to use my vote prayerfully at both election and referendum times. However… should a Christian be a politician?

One good example of a Christian politician in history is William Wilberforce. This young man came to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in 1784, having been influenced by a book “The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul” by William Doddridge who was a leading non-conformist in the early 18th century. It was the influence of William Wilberforce in politics which lead to the abolition of the slave trade but he also advocated many other changes in society which were based on Christian principles.

Having quoted this example of a Christian politician in history, however, I also believe that there are relatively few Christians involved in politics in today’s world, something which is evidenced by the introduction of evil laws and legislation which are contrary to scripture.

In answer to the question: “can a Christian be a politician?” I believe that the answer is ‘yes’ but only, of course, if the Lord definitely guides the individual to do so. He or she would need to be strong in their relationship with the Saviour and to be in no doubt as to their calling into this field for it is a difficult sphere in which to take a stand. Many snares are out there and the Christian must “dare to be a Daniel – and dare to make it known!” It must be remembered that neither politics nor any other issue in this life must get in the way of our relationship with the Lord. He must come first in our lives above all else and we must never be tempted to compromise our position because of popular or majority support for something which is contrary to God’s laws. Jesus said: “He that is not with me is against me;” (Matthew 12v30)

There can be no ‘sitting on the fence’ and no ‘grey areas’ when voting on any issue.

With this in mind it is interesting to note that William Wilberforce was an independent Member of Parliament. For obvious reasons, it is perhaps not a good idea for Christians to be involved in ‘Party Politics’ – unless the Party concerned has a manifesto which is based solely on Biblical principles.

As someone who was born in the middle of the 20th century I have watched, with interest, the political events of this world unfold. Totalitarian regimes and the many faces of communism have come and gone. Proverbs 1v14 warns of those who beg… “cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse;” and Proverbs 28v15 warns of wicked rulers… “As a roaring lion, and a raging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people.”

Proverbs 27v24 declares… “For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?” And so, this world will some day come to an end – along with all earthly kingdoms and political ideologies. But there is a King who is coming to reign and “of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end…” (Isaiah 9v6&7) He is “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Rev. 19v16) and His glorious Kingdom “is not of this world.” Therefore let us who know the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour serve Him with a pure heart in this life, whatever our standing in the communities in which we live. We must take a stand on the controversial issues of our day, for if we claim to own Jesus as “King of Kings and Lord of Lords,” then we are the “salt of the earth” – but “if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?” (Matthew 5v13)

Link to the hymn: “Sing we the King who is coming to reign:” http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/s/i/singking.htm