Practical Christianity (Introduction)

In the “Advertisement” of William Wilberforce’s book “Practical Christianity,” [1] the Reverend Thomas Price cites (without reference) John Milton as saying:

“Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them, to be as active as that soul was, whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve, as in a vial, the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them” (cited from John Milton’s, Areopagitica — CD).

What I plan to do with Wilberforce’s book (which appears to be a critique of nominal Christianity) is basically make some observations on what he says.

This review of sorts also seeks to determine with specific Wilberforce quotes whether he be a true saint or an antichristian heretic. I read that Wilberforce ascribed a huge influence in his “conversion” to preacher-hymn writer Philip Doddridge’s The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul (1745). I have not read anything by Doddridge, but according to A.C. Clifford he’s classified as a “moderate Calvinist” whose views reflect that of Richard Baxter (though details of exactly how far these views are reflected Clifford does not say). “Moderate Calvinism” believes that Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception (albeit in different “senses”), and thus it’s just as damnable as “Arminianism.”

[1] I think the full title is: “A practical view of the prevailing religious system of professed Christians, in the higher and middle classes in this country; contrasted with real Christianity.” It seems there are many versions of Wilberforce’s book and thus probably not all of them contain this “Advertisement” by Thomas Price. Also due to the many versions available I will probably omit page numbers.

For historical interest’s sake here is a very brief history of Wilberforce:

And then a longer history of Wilberforce is found here:

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