For those from Sheffield, they will be familiar with a place called the Montgomery Hall. However, it is surprising how few Christians in Sheffield, never mind further a field have little idea of the godly Christian influence of this man.
Perhaps if I mention two hymns by him then you will recognise them.
Angels from the realms of Glory
Holy, Holy, holy Lord, God of hosts, when heaven and earth ...
James Montgomery was born in 1771 and he died in 1854. He was from Scotland but the son of missionary parents, he spend most of his life in Sheffield. He was the editor of a newspaper, a kind of Wilberforce of Northern England in his protest against slavery, a supporter of much work of Christian benevolence and a principled Christian man. There is a statue of this man by the side of Sheffield Cathedral today.
Day One Publications have published a fine book by Paul S. Taylor called "James Montgomery: A Man for all People". It is an excellent book!
What can we learn from his life? He advocated for the anti-slavery movement, because true gospel knowledge will always produce a reaction to the evils of present-day society. We must never take the values of a society as absolutes for morality. History teaches us that this is foolish and collective views (sometimes called a consensus) do not necessarily direct towards what is right. In fact due to the sinfulness of men, the opposite may be the case. It is the Bible which provides the only standard for right and wrong for all of humanity, yes all of humanity.
The Ten Commandments are clear for all people: "You shall not murder and you shall not steal". 19th Century slavery was a form of man-stealing, never mind a breach of human rights. However today, we face the silent wickedness of providing abortion as a means of contraception and women are rarely given an informed choice of the truth that she is carrying a human being, a baby, and not a mass of impersonal human cells. It is time for men and women to begin to sensitively and boldly support a modern day cause of Pro-Life. There was a time in this nation when the life of a baby was upheld. Today, in the UK and in many countries, perhaps the most dangerous place to be is in the mother's womb. I believe that men such as James Montgomery, were they alive today, that they would passionately speak out on this issue. It is up to Christians today to do what is right, to speak out and to stand up for what is right even if it is not popular.
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:13-14.
"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" Psalm 119:105.