« PreviousContinue »
cially for her, and adapted to her pecunar condition, which she could take with her into her solitude. It is true, in the consolations which have been administered to the bereaved and sorrowing, there was much which would apply to the general condition of the widow. It is true, in the Bible were to be found many rich and precious assurances of special interest in the heart of God, and of protection for herself and fatherless children. But these lie scattered, and seemed to be almost too great and glorious to be meant for the poor sufferer, well nigh consumed by the intensity of her agony. There is something so sacred and touching in the sorrows of widowhood ;something which so instinctively shrinks away from the public gaze, and seeks retirement, where alone and unwatched, the heart may pour out the freshness of its grief, that I do not wonder that pious men have forborne publicly to address the widow, lest they might only wound the deeper, when they merely sought to sympathise and give direction to her sorrow.
It must be admitted, that few men could with much hope of success, undertake a task so delicate. Properly to perform it, required not only a warm and generous heart, a clear and discriminating intellect, a practical acquaintance with the laws of the human mind, but also personal experience in similar grief
In all these respects, the gifted author of this volume is eminently qualified. Those who are acquainted with him through his writings—and much more, those who have enjoyed his personal friendship-are pursuaded, that Mr. James has not only a mind at once of simplicity and elegance, but possesses a heart of unusual generosity-alive to every appeal of sorrow. Besides this, the past dispensations of Providence have made him familiar with the realties of bereavement. The wife of his youth was early taken from him, and for a considerable period he knew the deep solicitude and the pensive sorrow of him that moumeth apart. Nay, more than this, even whilst preparing this volume of consolation, all the sorrows of the past have been quickened into life, and new fountains of grief opened in his heart. By letters recently received, we learn that his present companion, a lady of peculiar excellence, both intellectual and moral, is rapidly, though sweetly, passing to the skies. Thus has Providence most singularly prepared this man of God to perform the delicate task of speaking to the widow, and by anticipated sorrows, mingling deep sympathy with her drear and cheerless solitude. Whilst he hands forth the cup of consolation, he assures the mourner that it has virtue; for he has tasted it, and proved its power.
With the poet he can say, and thus (each every mourner tu say
“What though a cloud o'ershade my sight,
Big with affliction's tear ;
Discerns a rainbow there." It will not be thought strange, when the circumstances are considered under which this book wag prepared, that it is the most precious of all his works. There is a subdued and tender spirit breathed into every paragraph and sentence.
There is something which seizes upon the best feelings of the man, awakening a livelier interest in the daughters of affliction.
There is so much of God in these pages,-the milder and more lovely attributes of his nature are made so delightfully prominent, that the voice of murmuring must be hushed. The divine wisdom is so clearly illustrated, carrying forward the purposes of benevolence, even by the agency of death, that the heart must confide in God and be contented.
“With patience, then, the course of duty run,
W, P. New-York, May 1841.
One of the errands on which the Son of God came from heaven to earth, was to bind up the brokenhearted, and to comfort all that mourn: and during · his sojourn upon earth, the tenderest sympathy was one of the virtues which adorņed that holy nature, in which dwelt, as in its temple, "all the fulness of the Godhead bodily."
Like their Divine Master, the ministers of the gospel ought to be sons of consolation, and to perform the functions of a comforter, as well as those of an instructor: for if pure and 'undefiled religion, as regards the professors of christianity, consists, in part, of visiting the widow and fatherless in their affliction, how much more incumbent is it on its teachers, to
herish and to manifest the same tenderness of spirit towards this deeply suffering portion of the hunan famıly. A group of children gathered round a widowed mother, and sobbing out their sorrows, as she repeats to them, amidst many tears, their father's loved and honoured name, is one of those pictures of woe, on which few can look with an unmoistened eye.
Is it not strange, then, that with claims upon our sympathy, so strong and so generally acknowledged,
sucha mourners should have engaged no pious author to produce a separate treatise for their relief? That while the department of hortatory theology is so rich in iis stores of consolation for the afflicted in
general, the widow should have had no tribute of sympathy specially prepared to meet her sad case ? At least I know of none. Popular treatises of inestimable value, such as Cecil's “Friendly Visit to the House of Mourning;" Grosvenor's “Mourner Comforted;" and Hill's “Faith's estimate of Amictive Dispensations,” published by the Religious Tract Society, under the title “It is Well;" are known by thousands to their consolation, and are, of course, as appropriate to the widow as to any other of the varieties of mourners but she needs a special message of comfort from her Lord; a voice which speaks to her case alone; a strain of consolation which, in its descriptions and condolence, is appropriate, and exclusively so, to her. As it is the peculiarity of our sorrows which often gives them their depth and pungency, so it is the peculiarity of sympathy also which gives “o this cordial for a Cainting spirit, its balmy and reviving power. Affliccion, like bodily disease, has numerous varieties; and, comfort, like medicine, derives ils efficacy from its suitableness to the case.
In Dr. Adam Thompson's “ Consolations for Chris. tian Mourners, there are two excellent sermons addressed to widows; but these constitute no exception to the statement, that there is no separate work for such mourners. May the present attempt, spe