William Ewart Gladstone was born “into an evangelical Liverpool (UK) family” on December 29, 1809, as the son of a prosperous merchant.
Educated at Eton and then Oxford University he was elected to Parliament in 1832. He spent his life in British politics, becoming Prime Minister of England for four terms and Chancellor of the Exchequer three times.
Starting as a Tory, in Peel’s government of 1834-35, he became a cabinet member in Peel’s 1843 Conservative government. When the Conservative Party split in 1846 Gladstone stuck with Peel, taking part in the formation of the Liberal-Conservative party.
In 1859 he changed parties again, to the Liberals, and became their leader in 1867 and Prime Minister for the first time, the following year.
In the years that followed he saw his share of political upheavals. One of his enduring political ambitions was Home Rule for Ireland. He was unsuccessful.
This “grand old man” of the House of Commons, as he was called, maintained strong Christian convictions throughout his lengthy career.
Dr John Clifford (Spurgeon’s nemesis), claims that Gladstone was “from first to last evangelical, clinging to the great realities of personal sinfulness and personal salvation through the cross of Christ” (Typical Christian Leaders, page 50).
And Dr Boreham gives us this quote from Gladstone himself: “I commend myself,” he writes in his will, “to the infinite mercies of God in the Incarnate Son as my only and sufficient hope” (Faggot of Torches, page 243).
In his 424-pages book, The Impregnable Rock of Holy Scripture, (1890), Gladstone defends God’s revelation to man. He locks horns with evolutionists and higher critics. True, some of his points may not suit all evangelicals today, but the book reveals one who knows and loves the Word of God.
He was a High Churchman, devout and regular in his worship. The claims of the Church of Rome he strongly denounced.
Death came on 19 May, 1898, and he was buried in Westminster Abbey.
This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at: www.donaldprout.com