Family Lessons 21: The Glorious 50's

Weren’t the 50’s great? More moral, smarter fashions, better churches, greater courtesy, better this, that, the other. How fortunate our grandparents were! In fact, I am not writing about the 1950s, but the 1650s. I think not of my grandfather, but my 11x great grandfather, Brian Ellill. He died at Gisburn in 1651. Why was he so blessed?

-Three years before, he would have witnessed the great Oliver Cromwell ride through and stay in the village of Gisburn with thousands of troops as they marched to Preston. His descendant who writes this would give his left arm to behold such a sight. 

-His was a golden age of puritan theology. Great preachers dominated the pulpits, godly administrators governed the land. Even in little Gisburn, Thomas Bullingham, the vicar, was deemed a 'delinquent' by the ‘triers and ejectors’, replacing him with one Richard Shaw, a man of more puritan sensibilities.

-Arbitrary government and absolutist monarchy was ended; Parliament reigned supreme and the commons of England at last had a voice.

Oh, the good old fifties. Yet the past we often view through rose-tinted spectacles. Much as I love the 1650s, and many older folk today wistfully adore the 1950s with equal gushes of delight, the reality was often far worse than the recollection. Grandad Ellill would have been terrified by the prospect of Cromwell’s 9000-strong army camping in the fields. Brian lived at Paythorne, and doubtless the Army’s scouts and quartermasters would have come looking and pestering for provisions which they may not have paid for. He would have been afraid for his two daughters’ safety, even with so 'godly' an army of Cromwell’s New Model.

The fashionable London pulpits enjoyed the holy thunderings of John Owen and Hugh Peter, but would little Gisburn have had decent preaching? Even if Richard Shaw was up to much, he was presumably dismissed in 1662 and the old delinquent given back his job. So much for that. 

Though Parliament deposed the monarch, it soon became a tyranny in its own right. And to ordinary farmers and labourers, a greedy landlord or local bailiff could be as dangerous and obnoxious a tyrant as any king at Whitehall.

The past is seldom better than the present; the ugliness of man’s sin and fallenness remains as steady as ever. Likewise, those who look to the future with hope and pleasure will only be disappointed, except they see Christ and His promises. I do not know if Brian Ellill believed in the gospel; I can only imagine he heard it and was urged to believe. Without it, his eternal state will be more dire than anything the Civil War and its aftermath could throw at him.

Top image by Mabel Amber, who will one day from Pixabay 

Lower Image by b0red from Pixabay