It has just been announced that the Duke of Westminster has died. He was Britain's third richest man valued at over eight billion pounds. He owned much of Lancashire, where he died, as well as land in Cheshire and London. As a duke, his station was the very highest and grandest within the British nobility and he had a happy marriage and several children. He had everything that most people want. But death claimed him, as it will us all.
I am acquainted with a number of farmers who were tenants of his estate who held him in high regard. By all accounts, he was a decent chap. But death claimed him, as it will us all. May we who are living heed this lesson and prepare for eternity.
The picture is of a tomb in a parish church in East Yorkshire. It belongs to one of the Hotham family, the local squires. On the top 'shelf' of the tomb is the deceased in all his worldly glory: fine clothes, good looks and a cultured air. Beneath him lies the grim reality: he's become a bare skeleton denuded of all his earlier splendour.
Ecclesiastes 9 says:
But all this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God. Whether it is love or hate, man does not know; both are before him. 2 It is the same for all, since the same event happens to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As the good one is, so is the sinner, and he who swears is as he who shuns an oath. 3 This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that the same event happens to all. Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. 4 But he who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. 5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. 6 Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun.
Whether you are a nobleman or a peasant, an employer or employee, a billionaire or a pauper: prepare to meet your Judge.