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Wow! What a way to die!

Fergus Pearson, 15th August 2020

How do you want to face death? Have you given it much thought? Here’s a prompt to think about it today!

I want to introduce you to Hannah Wilberforce. She and her husband William were aunt and uncle to the famous William Wilberforce, the politican who was the main player in Britain’s abolition of the slave trade in 1807.

I want to show you Hannah, facing death. This is not her wild death-bed ramblings. Rather, it is the sober, thought-through opening sentences she gave to her solicitor:

Monochrome image of road in wilderness

"This is the last will and testament of me, Hannah Wilberforce, of Blackheath in the county of Kent, widow of William Wilberforce, late of Wimbledon in Surrey, Esq.

In the first place, I commit my soul into the hands of my God and Saviour, who, I believe, has redeemed it by his precious blood-shedding. He justifies me before God by his perfect righteousness, wrought out for sinners—surely this is the only hope and dependence for deliverance from the wrath of God, as the wages due to my sins.

And I can cheerfully look to a blessed resurrection of my body when this mortal shall put on immortality. And though it will be sown in dishonour, it shall be raised in glory. I should like to have it deposited in Wimbledon churchyard, where my dear husband lays in a vault built for that purpose.

He was very dear to me, and through much tribulation, I doubt not, is rejoicing above where we all who have mourned together will, I trust, sing a loud song of praise for all we met with by the way. And I desire my body may be consigned to the silent grave in a plain decent way, and with as little expense as may be proper..."

[I have broken the confusing legalese into smaller sentences to make it readable.]

Fergus Pearson

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