Tuesday, August 4, 2015

James Madison Flake's final words, posted by Braden

I read this today on FamilySearch. It's James Madison Flake's "final words" to his descendants. I rather enjoyed it, so I thought I'd post it here. We had a very grounded, spiritual, and well-spoken grand-/great-/great-great-grandfather.
To my children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and their descendants
Dear Children,
I would like to tell you how much I love you and how solicitous I am for your welfare and happiness in this life and the life to come. It has been my sincere wish to live long enough to superintend your education and see you fairly well started on this perilous journey of life. This I have been able to do for my children, for which I am thankful. The coveted pleasure of doing this for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be denied me. I do not wish to leave you any great patrimony, and even if I did it might prove to be a curse rather than a blessing. Since I leave you nothing more substantial, I felt it prudent to call out of my limited wisdom and experience some plain and simple maxims which, if practiced, I am sure will make you estimable members of society and prepare you for that eternity whose shadow ever encompasses your footsteps.
First I want you to revere God and keep his commandments. Unite with the Church and attend faithfully to your religious duties. Avoid all pomp and bigotry in religion. All true religion is embodied in one word…Charity; the charity that embraces God with one arm and all humanity with the other. All else is counterfeit. Above all things be truthful, then you will be honest, and these two constitute the cardinal virtues of a good life. Be industrious. Labor assiduously and complete with thoroughness whatsoever you undertake. Indolence is the mother of poverty, unhappiness, and crime.
Practice economy, without being miserly. Give according to your means worthy objects of your charity...and be sure they are worthy. Pay as you go. I repeat... pay as you go. This is the true secret of success. The percentage you give to your creditors will make you bankrupt if you go into debt. If possible, secure for yourself a competence, without striving to become rich, Get no wealth at the expense of your conscience. If fortune should favor you, in your prosperity do not forget the poor and the needy. Be temperate in all things. Touch not Tobacco nor the intoxicating bowl. It is full of vice, violence, misery, and poverty. I beg you, touch it not.
Govern your temper. It is a fiery steed, and unless put under severe discipline, will carry you into all manner of difficulties. Coolness is the beliast of a wise head. Avoid all affectation and dissimulation. Be natural and sincere. Have the courage to say "NO" where your honor and integrity may suffer. Economize your time; do not procrastinate. Remember you cannot recall a single moment of your life. There are no pauses in the steady ceaseless revolutions of the ponderous wheel that hurries you onto the end. Make sure then, of each moment, and out of it extract something from your moral, intellectual, or financial progress. Recreate your minds with manual labor and your bodies with study. Remain at home nights. Let me entreat you not to mingle with the gossiping crowd on street corners or in some other den of iniquity. It is of such company that bad habits are contracted and moral depravity has it's origin.
Obey your Mother in all things. She understands your rights and duties, and will make no unreasonable demands of you. Strive to make her happy and her life in this world pleasant.
Last of all revere your country and obey her laws. Cherish her institutions of freedom and the rights of man. If those should be threatened, sacrifice your lives rather than see them perish.
I might multiply indefinitely the minor duties of life, but I hope that by the observance of these maxims, a higher faith, a broader patriotism, and a sublimer philanthropy than my own might be actuated. I am sure they will. God knows how sincerely I yearn for such a consummation. If only I knew that you would grow up into perfect manhood and womanhood I would die content. On each recurring anniversary of my death I desire you to read this creed and obsolve that you will observe these simple maxims and precepts renewed with fidelity, and as you read them, may they be to you as a message direct from my celestial home in that eternal city where I hope to take up my everlasting abode. May God bless you who read this and preserve you from all harm and save you finally in Heaven is my parting benediction. Farewell...
Your affectionate Father,
James Madison Flake

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