Erastus Salt And Light In The Government Of Corinth -- By: Gordon Franz

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 27:1 (Winter 2014)
Article: Erastus Salt And Light In The Government Of Corinth
Author: Gordon Franz

Salt And Light In The Government Of Corinth

Gordon Franz


In 1780, at the age of 21 years and two weeks, William Wilberforce was the youngest man ever to be elected to the British parliament. He was an eloquent orator, a gifted singer, and was invited to join five exclusive clubs in London. He enjoyed the London social scene: dining, playing cards, dancing and the theater. Here was a man who “had it all” at such a young age.

In February 1785 he began to read a book entitled The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul by Philip Doddridge. During that spring he traveled on holiday to the Continent with Isaac Milner, a tutor at the Queens College, Cambridge. As they traveled they discussed the book by Doddridge and other spiritual matters. It was not until November or December of that year that the “Great Change,” as Wilberforce describes it, took place. William Wilberforce put his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior from sin. What a change that was. Among other things, he was delivered from the power of darkness and conveyed into the kingdom of the Son of His love (Col 1:13).

With his decision to trust Jesus Christ as his Savior, he began to struggle within himself over the issue of whether politics was compatible with the Christian life. Was serving in Parliament consistent with his spiritual walk with the Lord, or should he leave Parliament altogether and go into full time Christian ministry? During this struggle he visited an old family friend, John Newton, a pastor in London, and asked for his advice. The former slave trader and author of the famous hymn “Amazing Grace” encouraged Wilberforce to remain in Parliament. As a result of that conversation, Wilberforce wrote: “When I came away I found my mind in a calm, tranquil state, more humbled, and looking more devotedly up to God.” John Newton later wrote to his friend and fellow song writer, William Cowper: “I judge he [Wilberforce] is now decidedly on the right track…I hope the Lord will make him a blessing both as a Christian and a statesman. How seldom do these characters coincide!! But they are not incompatible” (Metaxas 2007: 59-61). Please notice Newton called him a statesman and not a politician. There is a big difference between the two.

Wikimedia Commons

William Wilberforce (left) was the epitome of a Christian statesman, not a mere politician. Influenced to use his high social station by John Newton (right) in the furtherance of the Gospel by being “salt and light” to society, he followed the earlier example of Erastus ...

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