A Sin to Wish them here Again

Upon his Mothers breast

They livd they diyd and in a day.

Mother Earth did them rescue:

Because they came that way.

Here dy'd their Parents hopes and feares

Once all their loy, now all their feares,

They'r now past hope, past feare, or paine,

It were a Sinne to wish them here againe.

Had they Liud to th'age of Man.

This Inch had growne but to a Span.

But now they take the better Roomes

Rockt from their Cradles to their Toombes

Ver but the way from whence vec come,

Youle say He's blest that soon'sf at Home

You see their Age and years of Grace.

I hope that Heauen's their dwelling place. ROBERT LEVER

Somewhat clumsy doggerel, the trained eye might think. Robert Lever paid for this memeorial which now hangs in Manchester Cathedral, a sad reminder of his six children’s deaths in the 1630s and 1640s. His grief is clear, and the reader, once past the odd spellings and awkward syntax, cannot but feel pity. Yet one line caught my eye:

It were a Sinne to wish them here againe.

He misses them, yet he suggests it would be sinful to wish them back. Well, if heaven is their dwelling place, they are better off away from this old world, especially Robert Lever’s, which was then going to be wrecked by civil wars. Secondly, the mysterious providence of God will operate without our understanding or approval, but God always acts aright. ‘If were a Sinne to wish them here againe’ is a bold statement of trust and faith in God’s ways. Too often we revel in God’s giving but not His taking; His granting but not His denial. Trusting God means accepting both.

"The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21b