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The Hanging of John Brown

Funerals and wakes are meant to celebrate someone’s life.  This time of reflection gives individuals a chance to say goodbye, paying respect to people whom may have touched your life.  Following the hanging of John Brown, a wide array of Americans paid homage to this abolitionist.  Poet Henry David Thoreau gave a speech simply entitled Remarks After the Hanging of John Brown where he referred to this man as the Soul’s Errand.  In a recent documentary produced by Ken Burns, John Brown is called the Meteor that ignited the Civil War.

We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done, Psalm 78:4.

Historians remember John Brown as a failure in most aspects of his life.  Unsuccessful as a businessman, Brown felt compelled by God to help end slavery.  Following the sacking of Lawrence, Kansas by pro-slavery forces, Brown and his supporters fought back by killing five men in May of 1856.  However, three years later John Brown’s fortune would change.  During a raid on the federal armory in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, John Brown tried to form a resistance to set slaves free.  Yet, this attempt ended in the death of some men, desertion by others and his own conviction for treason by the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Thus, John Brown was hung in public.

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also, Matthew 6:20-21.

There are two certainties in life. First, you will die unless Jesus returns prior to your death. Second, the seeds that you sow in life will produce a legacy.  While speeches at memorials focus on the good that individuals accomplished in life, not everyone will paint a rosy picture of interactions with you.  In view of this fact, I hope that I can develop a sense of urgency to dedicate my life toward worthwhile causes.  Life is too short to give up before you taste success.  Therefore, seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness by setting your heart on eternal treasures; a fate that John Brown was wiling to die for.

by Jay Mankus

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