Family Lessons 4: Grandpa Cragg’s Conversion

My 9x great-grandfather, Timothy Cragg, was a wild man, but he was converted to Christ in 1687. In his diary, he wrote of his delinquent youth- sporting, gaming, drinking and generally wasting his life:

As I grew elder I fell into company — with those that spent the first days in the afternoon with playing at penny pitch, or with shooting with bows and arrows, in the winter evenings with playing at cards sometimes all or most part of the night long, altho’ my useing these games was more for sport than money, but besure an idle cause of life it was; and sometimes we met at the ale house and ranted and sung there, alas! Not thinking of our last end and tho’ I was preserved out of swearing, yet in my young days I had an ill property of cursing things that grieved me.

Sounding all too familar and modern, he was also a big smoker:

One thing I think not to omit, and that is tobbaco. At 22 I may say I was reproved about smokeing of it in the senate of my bossom many a time, and several years, but it being used by my companions, and I had got a custom of it, it was a hard thing to leave it, tho’ I met with an abundance of exercise about it. At last I would and did give up the using it extravigently and used but a little of it every day - sometimes smokeing, sometimes chewing; but after a time in a great measure I was forced to give up that too.

Being restless and energetic, he became a soldier, which gave him greater opportunity to exhibit his baser qualities:

When I was twenty-two years of age I was put on for a trainband soldier, or one of the militia, which certainly led me into more jollity, jokeing, drinking and such like idleness and we met to be trained yearly for some years, and an abundance of idleness there was to be seen and heard.

Yet during this time, he was convicted of sin:

I was likewise strangely alarmed about carding. One night I being at a neighbour’s house carding, as I remember, for apples, and a considerable number of people playing, it happened that the wind rose very terrible, and it rained extremely; and I was struck with the thought, that if the house should be blown down upon our heads, what would become of our souls - or to this effect. So away out ofthe house I went home and soundly wet; but as I remember, I never carded more.

Eventually, he left the Church of England and joined the Friends, much to his in-laws’ chagrin:

I was convinced of several things that I was addicted to before I left the Church of England, and I may say I was one that was loth to bend, and was as I any word it, [h'c] driven out by inward judgements, for there was a cross to be taken up. And tho’ I had a loving wife, yet it was a cross to her for me to become a quaker, and she had then her father and one unkle (sic) living and one unkle dead - which in his time had been a famous preacher, and put forth two books. And for me to become a Quaker, was much against my wife’s relations. Then I begun to frequent meetings of the people called Quakers, which was in the year 1688.

And to we 300 years later, he makes as relevant a point as ever:

When I have taken a view of the animal creatures, I mean the beasts and fouls that are here below, I have thought their condition to be good; for death to them would be an end of sorrow, but O! the creature man, if he died out of favor (sic) of the Almighty, he was of all creatures most miserable, because the soul after the death of his body was to live to all eternity.

Grandfather Cragg has been with Christ these past 224 years, despite being a pretty reprobate character in his early life. Yet of his careless and selfish living he was convicted, and fled to Christ. Like all Spirit-filled believers, he lamented the continued workings of sin in his heart, and the unregenerate living of those around him:

Many a time, in a fine spring when the earth has been comely to look upon, and the birds singing melodiously on every side, then have I gone mourning on my way, lamenting my condition and getting into hidden places to pour out my prayer unto my God. And when others went as I had done formerly, to pass their time in merriment and gameing, in drinking, in quarrelling, and idleness, then have I been exercised in mourning and prayer.

Perhaps, without Grandfather Cragg knowing it, the great God heard his prayer and saved me.

Taken from The Life of Timothy Cragg of the Chappelhouse in Wyersdale written by him self- transcribed from the original mss by his great grandson David Cragg in 1797’ – transcribed by Timothy E Cragg of Greenbank Canada, grandson of the above mentioned Timothy Cragg in 1886

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