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By the beginning of the nineteenth century, about three million African slaves had been transported to the Americas on British ships. People being stolen from their homes, ripped from their families, robbed of their dignity, transported on ships 3 decks deep, squalid conditions, thrown into the sea if they got sick. Tortured on the way to work as sub-human beings. Christian abolitionists became deeply persuaded that this was a great evil. Among the bases for this belief was the golden rule - Matthew 7:12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Abraham Booth preached a message in London, January of 1792 about how trafficking in human beings is incompatible with the gospel - calling people to imagine the slave ships landing on British shores and raiding London and Bristol and Liverpool, kidnapping your loved ones and dragging them away never to be seen again. When you can picture it happening to you, then you can picture what you would want someone to do for you, then you can picture what you should do for someone else. Do to others what you would have them do to you.

William Wilberforce was gripped by this issue. He was born in England in 1759. In 1780 he was elected to the House of Commons in the English Parliament. He suffered defeat in session after session of parliament. For 20 years. Fighting against the slave trade. A righteous cause if ever there was one. Yet he was knocked down again and again and again.

One of his adversaries said, "It is necessary to watch him as he is blessed with a very sufficient quantity of that Enthusiastic spirit, which so far from yielding that it grows more vigorous from blows."

In other words: knock him down and he gets up stronger.

(Adapted from John Piper's "The Spring of Persistent Public Love",

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