Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

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Written by Peter Langbroek
Captain Zachariah Gillam stood on deck, watching the cold wind whip up the waves to frothy crests on Hudson Bay on June, 1668. He saw the island to his left and a rocky, windswept shoreline to his right. This bay would be named Rupert Bay.

The wood still looked new on the ship, he and his adventurous crew were sailing. It had sailed for the first time, with the honours of King Charles II, from Gravesend, England. It was named Prince Rupert. The ship was filled with guns, pots, kettles, potatoes, beads, knives--anything the Cree Indians would want to trade beaver furs for. The men would land soon by the mouth of a river and prepare for winter by building a log house. The Indians would soon come with furs, which would be loaded on the ship for England, where the beaver would be sold for a large profit. They would be rich! Soon, the men saw the river mouth. It was named Rupert River.

Sure enough, the next summer, the sailor-fur traders returned with a ship loaded with furs. King Charles II, very pleased, formed the Hudson's Bay Company, which on May 2, 1670, was given rights to explore, settle, and trade in all areas where rivers flowed into Hudson Bay. Little did they know, then, that this area, named Rupert's Land, made up over one-third of Canada! (Illustration #1 )

Prince Rupert became the first governor of the company. ArenÕt you curious to know who this Prince Rupert is? Reading about him, I can only say that he was a remarkably talented man. Born on November 28, 1619, Prince Rupert was a handsome young man with long hair. He was a brave and clever soldier who led the Cavaliers army against the Puritans. Later, he went to sea to become admiral of the Navy, fighting against his enemies, the Dutch.

Not only was he robust, handsome and brave, Prince Rupert was extremely bright. He studied the use of weapons and equipment. He studied law and was a politician who could speak with power, clarity, and charm. He could also draw very well. Later, he spent hours in a laboratory, performing experiments and inventing such things as water machines and an automatic pistol that shot needles through a piece of oak 10 cm. thick. He invented a metal alloy and loved to collect coins and learn how they're made. He also was a great businessman who managed companies very well.

You'd say he had everything: wealth, fame, honour, talents. Everything you'd dream of, right? Well, there was another side to him. Especially when he got older, Prince Rupert became a hardened, lonely man. He'd rather enjoy the company of his dogs (another favourite pastime of his!) than the company of people. He could be very charming when it suited him, but, mostly he was proud, snobbish, and cutting in his talk with others. He intensely hated the Puritans and the Dutch. The saying that fit him was: "Blessed are those who expect nothing." I can not judge this man's eternal state, but I read of nothing that indicates he showed any fruits of living a life of faith in God.

Now, if you can, please pause and read Psalm 49 or have someone read it to you. It's meant for everyone to understand and think about (Psalm 49: 1-4). It's a deep, sobering psalm, isn't it? It talks of rich, talented, famous men who die like animals. They trusted in their riches, thought they'd live in their homes forever, even had places named after them, and like Prince Rupert, they not only expected nothing, they found nothing. It's grave's end for all. Don't you think this psalm is dark and dreary? (Circle YES if you agree, NO if you disagree).

If you circled yes, then you should read it again. It's not! The psalmist who observed the lives of those whose trust in riches, exclaimed, "But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave; for he shall receive meÓ (Psalm 49: 15). His trust was in God. He knew his soul would return to God who made him. He would be saved from the cold clutches of death that separates from God forever. For it was Jesus who died so God could raise him from the grave. He returned to His father in a resurrected body, having freed His people from the penalty they deserved. It is this fact that gives everyone who trusts in God, hope.

Prince Rupert, when a child, received a Christian education. He learned more memory verses than any of you. In fact, as a child, he had to learn the Heidelberg Catechism by heart. But he didn't listen.

Prince Rupert also reminds me of a Bible character, Absalom. He too was a charming, handsome prince who was multi-talented. He didn't listen either. Wanting no one to forget him, since he had no children, he set up a pillar for himself. "Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar, which is in the king's dale: for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance: and he called the pillar after his own name: and it is called unto this day, Absalom's placeÓ (2 Samuel 18: 18). The sad fact is, he hung on his own long hair, died a gruesome death, and his body was buried under a heap of stones. (Illustration # 2)

Trust in God (yes or no?). Trust in whatever else (yes or no?). Understand and think about Psalm 49.

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