Family Lessons 22: Advice from the Dead

I recently called at St Peter’s Church in Addingham, Yorkshire. It was here, on 26th December, 1649, that my 9th great-grandfather, Christopher Bradley, married his beloved Margaret, my 9th great-grandmother. I rather romantically imagined them looking out of those windows onto the grey December sky, wondering what life would be like for the soon-to-be Goodman and Goodwife Bradley. Yet reminders of sadness were also at hand. Just six months before, Mr Samewell (sic) Wade died and was buried there. On one of the window ledges was attached a memorial to him, including some good advice to any starting out on life's journey:

God’s love and favour is not known alwaies

by earthly comforts nor by length of dayes

for often times we see whom he loves best

He soonest takes vnto His place of rest

Long life on earth doth but prolong our paine

In happy death there is the greatest gain.

Perhaps this was far too melancholic a sentiment for so happy a celebration as Christopher and Margaret's wedding day. They went on to have nine children, at least one of whom died an infant, so they might have had some sympathy for Mr Wade’s admonition after all. The centuries have passed, but the point remains true. The happy years do not last; pain and then death stalk us until they make their claim. Those whom God takes soonest are often spared the worst. I hope the Bradley family had enough wisdom to appreciate this and to prepare for their own admission into eternity.

Do not grieve the departed Christian. God did them the most magnificent favour by calling them home ahead of us.

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened…

Ecclesiastes 12:1-13