BIBLE READERS CHANGE THE WORLD
If you’ve read anything by Charles Dickens, you know how terrible conditions were in 18th century England. There were no child labor laws, so children as young as age four were put to work up to 12 hours a day in dangerous factories and sent into the corners of coal mines that were too narrow for adults to reach. If you’ve seen the musical "Oliver," you know that hunger was rampant. Tuberculosis, diphtheria and cholera outbreaks were common. School was only available for the children of the rich.
In 1738, Jonathan Wesley starting forming little Bible studies around the country. He was so keen on using methods to teach the Bible that people called his followers "Method-ists." By 1798, there were 100,000 Methodist Bible studies in England.
One of those Bible reading Methodists was Samuel Plimsoll. Plimsoll thought it was wrong that the merchants overloaded their ships and then shrugged it off and collected large insurance claims when their ships sank and the crews drowned. Plimsoll invented a symbol that marked a line on the ship to indicate its safe loading level. This line has saved thousands of lives and is still called "the Plimsoll mark" to this day.
Another Bible reader was Robert Raikes. Raikes saw that poor children couldn’t attend school because they worked six days a week. So he invited "Sunday school" to teach kids to read by reading the Bible.
Other people from this Bible reading movement formed orphanages, mental asylums, hospitals and prisons.
Florence Nightingale developed the nursing profession.
William Wilberforce brought an end to the English Slave Trade.
Bible readers fought and won women the right to vote.
William and Catherine Booth formed the Salvation Army.
Wesley’s 18th century Bible-reading revolution changed people’s character. It lifted so many English people’s work ethic, care ethic, and sense of personal trustworthiness that, by the 19th century, England had become the most powerful and prosperous nation on earth.
The same thing happened in America. The religious low point of our history was the 1850’s. Then revival began happening all around our country in 1857. People began reading the Bible. This was before gas or electricity. So after dark, families would gather around a few candles at the kitchen table. While mom and grandma sewed and repaired clothes, the father of the family would read the Bible, by candlelight, for an hour or more every evening.
And like in England, work-ethics rose, along with integrity and initiative and care for the poor. The Civil War broke out, in part, because Bible-readers determined that slavery was a sin. America’s 19th century Bible-reading made us the most prosperous and successful nation of the 20th century.
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