Public Lecture by Associate Professor Stuart Piggin given on 26 March 2007 at Parliament House, Canberra.
To celebrate the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade.
On 15 November 1786, John Newton wrote to Wilberforce:
To you, as the instrument, we owe the pleasing prospect of an opening for the propagation of the Gospel in the Southern Hemisphere. Who can tell what important consequences may depend on Mr Johnson‘s going to New Holland? It may seem but a small event at present: so a foundation-stone, when laid, is small compared with the building to be erected upon it; but it is the beginning and the earnest of the whole.
The evangelical Christian presence with the first fleet then was a first fruit of Mr Wilberforce’s conversion to vital Christianity.
You will know of the world renowned hymn “Amazing Grace” written by the Rev. John Newton in 1772. However, few people will know that this same Rev. John Newton (a former shipmaster on British slave ships), approached the Rev. Richard Johnson in England on the 23rd September 1786 with a visionary proposal to be the chaplain and missionary on the first fleet to the “Land Down Under”.
Charles Joseph La Trobe was the first governor of Victoria. He was a man of deep Christian convictions. Both his father and grandfather were personal friends of John Newton and William Wilberforce.
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