« PreviousContinue »
in sight, which in imagination should hold almost daily converse with them, — how it would purify, strengthen, and elevate us !
We should not be giving a full and candid utterance to our own opinion and feelings on this momentous subject, were we not most unreservedly to state our conviction, that our own conduct with reference to those who have left, and those who are leaving, the present world, is frequently most inconsistent with our Christian profession, and most pernicious in its tendency. The common practical view among Christians, of sickness, what is it but that the greatest of all calamities has befallen us? An incurable disease, what a blight it casts on everything around, though mortality may be regarded as an incurable disease with us all ! How few are there, who, when they visit a sufferer, do not depress, rather than encourage him! Instead of looking, and bidding him look, to the effect on his character, reminding him that not one pang is really endured in vain; instead of pointing towards heaven, bountiful, gentle heaven,
whence all good, and whence nothing but good, proceeds, and talking of the bright days coming, either here or in nobler spheres, - we speak just as if there were nothing to care for but a prolongation of his years, and act just as if it were a thing too dreadful to think of, that he should be called away to Paradise ! * And when a fellow creature dies, so terrible would his fate
*“One, and another, and another, comes to us with an earnest pressing upon us of the 'hope of relief,' — that talisman which looks so well till its virtues are tried! They tell us of renewed health and activity, - of what it will be to enjoy ease again, - to be useful again, to shake off our troubles and be as we once were. We sigh, and say it may be so; but they see that we are neither roused nor soothed by it. Then one speaks differently, - tells us we shall never be better, - that we shall continue for long years as we are, or shall sink into deeper disease and death ; adding, that pain and disturbance and death are indissolubly linked with the indestructible life of the soul, and supposing that we are willing to be conducted on in this eternal course by Him whose thoughts and ways are not as ours, but whose tenderness ...... Then how we burst in, and take up the word! What have we not to say from the abundance of our hearts, - of that benignity, – that transcendent wisdom, our willingness, - our eagerness,
,- our sweet security, till we are silenced by our unutterable joy?" -- Life in the Sick Room.
seem, that we scarcely dare mention it, and accordingly henceforth we seldom allude to him; and when we do, we prefix that epithet of pity, poor, —
designating him always our “poor brother," as if God were no longer his Father, as if he were still, and would remain forever, in the cold, lonely grave, - and not as if he were a companion of angels, admitted to the highest of all privileges, and exulting in boundless love, knowledge and freedom! When the late Dr. Follen was spoken to concerning death, his answer was, “I am not going to die, I am going to live — life is before me, not death -- life, never-ending life; what we call death is only one of the incidents of life. Death is the final revelation and confirmation of immortality.” How truly Christian is this! and how Christian, too, “the words of a gifted lady, upon reading the obituary of Henry Ware, “I see Henry Ware has passed on. Passed on — beautiful thought! He has not stopped; he has not ceased to be; he has passed on in faith and duty and love to higher labors, and undefiled re
ward!” No wonder disease and death are so repulsive to the generality of mankind, when we shroud in gloom the prospects of those whose health is declining, and the memories of those who are gone. If they are actually removed to a state quite as real, only more bright and beautiful than any earthly clime; if they have nothing to fear along the dark valley of the shadow of death, because God lighteth and leadeth them; if Jesus and God, and the good of all ages, and all their own dearest friends, be with them now, — what reason can there be for preserving such a profound and awful silence about them? When a friend travels to the other side of the globe to end his days, we converse respecting him with delight and freedom. Would, therefore, that we had more of Christianity in our behavior at the closing scenes of life! The fountain of tears of course must and will flow; but our grief should be moderated by our Christian principles, and, never disconnecting the inseparable clauses, “He has left the world; he is gone to the Father," we should banish
the word “disconsolate,” as nowhere appropriate beneath the Divine rule. -- Not even to outward emblems of bereavement have we any objection, providing always they have a Christian meaning: but we would rather call them memorials than “mourning," and they should express not that a sore calamity has befallen us, and we have sunk into despondency, but simply, “a loved one has been called home
- his chair is vacant - his spirit has returned to the Creator our meditations follow him — the prevailing character of our minds is quiet and thoughtful — we think often of death and immortality.” And, believing that “those who sleep in Jesus” are not objects of pity, but are still under the protecting wings of divine love, we would speak of them as we would speak of those who dwell prosperously and happily in foreign lands, only always remembering that there is in all God's universe no land so blooming and joyous as that into which they have entered. How much less lonely would our journey down the vale of years