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´╗┐Title: Catharine
Author: Adams, Nehemiah, 1806-1878
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Catharine" ***

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CATHARINE.

BY THE AUTHOR OF

"AGNES AND THE LITTLE KEY."

[Transcriber's Note: Nehemiah Adams]



THIRD THOUSAND.


BOSTON:
J.E. TILTON AND COMPANY.
LONDON. KNIGHT AND SON.
1859.

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1859, by J.E. TILTON
and Co., In the Clerk's Office of the District Comm. of the District of
Massachusetts.

PRINTED BY
GEORGE O. RAND & AVERY.

ELECTROTYPED AT THE
BOSTON STEREOTYPE FOUNDRY.



TO THE
YOUNG LADIES OF MY CONGREGATION,
FRIENDS AND ACQUAINTANCES Of
CATHARINE,
AND TO EVERY FATHER,
HAVING
A DAUGHTER IN HEAVEN,
These Pages
ARE AFFECTIONATELY INSCRIBED.



CONTENTS.

I.

MORE THAN CONQUEROR,                9

II.

THE FEAR OF DEATH ALLEVIATED,      58

III.

THE SEARCH FOR THE DEPARTED,       89

IV.

THE SILENCE OF THE DEAD,          119

V.

THE REDEMPTION OF THE BODY,       144



CATHARINE



I.

MORE THAN CONQUEROR.

    Is that a death-bed where the Christian lies?
    Yes,--but not his: 'Tis death itself there dies.

COLERIDGE.


She was not an infant--an unconscious subject of grace. But the Saviour
has led through a long sickness, and through death, a daughter of
nineteen years, and has made her, and those who loved and watched her,
say, We are more than conquerors. To speak of Him, and not to gratify
the fondness of parental love, to commend the Saviour of my child to
other hearts, and to obtain for Him the affections of those to whom He
is able and willing to be all which He was to her, is the sole object of
these pages. Listen, then, not to a parent's partial tale concerning
his child, nor concerning mental nor bodily suffering, but to the words
of one who has seen how the presence of Christ, and love to Him, can
fill the dying hours with the sweetest peace, and even beauty, and the
hearts of survivors with joy.

Wishing to dwell chiefly on the last scenes of this dear child's life,
the reader will not be delayed by any biographical sketch. Nine years
before her death, when she was between ten and eleven years of age, she
gave the clearest evidence that she was renewed by the Holy Spirit. We
had since that time been made happy by the growing power of Christian
principle in her conduct, the clearness and steadfastness of her faith,
her systematic endeavors to live a holy life, her deep regret when she
had erred, and her resolute efforts to improve in every part of her
character.

Through a long sickness, with consumption, for two years and three
months, she felt the soothing power of unfaltering Christian hope,
which was evidently derived from a very clear perception of the way to
be saved through Christ, and complete trust in the promises made to
simple faith in him.

He who gave me this child, and crowned my hopes and wishes by the
manifest signs of his love towards her, merits from me a tribute of
gratitude and praise to which I desire and expect that eternity itself
may bear witness. They who read the story, which I am about to relate,
of her last few days, and think what it must be for a father to see his
child made competent to meet so intelligently and deliberately, and to
overcome, the last enemy, and, in doing so, helping to sustain and to
comfort those who loved her, will perceive that it is a gift from God
whose value nothing can increase. Bereavement and separation take
nothing from it, but, on the contrary, they illustrate and enforce our
obligations. For since we must needs die, and are as water that is
spilled upon the ground, which cannot be gathered up again, such a death
as this amounts to positive happiness by the side of a contrasted
experience in the joyless, hopeless death of a child, or friend. But
without further preface, I proceed to the narrative.

       *       *       *       *       *

Never before had it fallen to my lot to bear that message to one who was
sick, "The Master is come, and calleth for thee." In previous cases of
deep, personal interest, this has been unnecessary. But in the present
case there was a resolute purpose, and an expectation, of recovery, till
within a week of dissolution, and, on our part, a belief that life might
still be lengthened. Such cases involve nice questions of duty. Where
the patient has evidently made timely preparation to die, it is needless
to dispel that half illusion which seems to be one feature of
consumption--an illusion which is so thin that we feel persuaded the
patient sees through it, while, nevertheless, it serves all the purposes
of hope. To take away that hope where no beneficial end is to be
secured, is cruel. A mistaken, and somewhat morbid, sense of duty to
tell the whole truth, and a conscientious but unenlightened fear of
practising deception, sometimes lead friends to remove, from a sick
person, that power which hope gives in sustaining the sickness, in
prolonging comfort, and in helping the gradual descent into the grave.
When a sick person is resolute and hopeful, it is surprising to see how
many annoyances of sickness are prevented or easily borne, and how life,
and even cheerfulness, may be indefinitely extended. But when hope is
taken away, or, rather, when, instead of looking towards life with that
instinctive love of it which God has implanted, we turn from "the warm
precincts of the cheerful day," and look into the grave, it is affecting
to see how the disease takes advantage of it, and sufferings ensue which
would have been prevented by keeping up even the ambiguous thoughts of
recovery. Sick people have reflections and feelings which exert an
influence upon them beyond our discernment, and which frequently need
not our literal interpretations of symptoms, and our exhortations, to
make them more effectual. But where there is evidently no preparedness
for death, and the patient, we fear, is deceiving himself, no one who
has suitable views of Christian duty will fail to impress him with the
necessity of attending to the things which belong to his peace, even at
considerable risk of abridging life.

Waiting, therefore, for medical discernment to signify when the last
possible effort to lengthen out the days of the sufferer had been made,
one morning I received the intimation that those days would, in all
probability, be but very few. After the physician had left the house,
and I had sought help and strength from God, I lost no time, but took my
place at the dear patient's side, to make the announcement.

God help those on whom he lays such duty. The hour had virtually come in
which father and child must part, and the father was to break that
message to his child. But how could mortal strength endure the effort?

Before I left my room for hers, there came to my mind these words--"But
now, thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed
thee, O Israel, Fear not, for I have redeemed thee; I have called thee
by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will
be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when
thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall
the flame kindle upon thee." Trusting in that promise, I sat down, as it
were, over against the sepulchre, to prepare my child for her entrance
into it,--nay, for her departure into heaven.

The gradual arrival of the truth to her apprehension, through questions
which she began to ask, and my answers to them, finally led her to
inquire if I supposed she could not live long. I told her that the
physician thought that she was extremely weak, and that we must not be
surprised at any sudden event in her case. She said, without any change
of countenance, "Why, father, you surprise me; I thought that I might
get well; is it possible that I cannot live long? I have thought of
recovering much more than of dying... It seems a long space to pass over
between this and heaven, in so short a time. I wonder how I can so
suddenly obtain all the feelings which I need for such a change." These
expressions I wrote down immediately after the interview. I told her, in
reply, that she had been living at peace with God through his Son; that
it had hitherto been her duty to live, and to strive for it; but now God
had indicated his will concerning her, and she might be sure that God
will always give us feelings suited to every condition in which he sees
fit to place us.

On seeing her again towards evening, I found that the expression of her
sick face--the weary, exhausted look of one grappling with a stronger
power--had passed away, and, in exchange, there was peace, and even
happiness. She began herself to say, "When you told me this forenoon
that I could not live, it surprised me; but I have come to it now, and
it is all right. Every thing is settled. I have nothing to do--no fear,
no anxiety about any thing. More passages of Scripture and verses of
hymns have come to my mind to-day, than in all my sickness hitherto."
Wishes respecting some family arrangements were then expressed,
particularly with reference to the younger children, and these wishes
were uttered in about the same tone and manner as though we were parting
for a temporary absence from each other. The mother of my youngest child
had, at her death, given her in special charge to this daughter, and she
wished to live that she might educate her. She made the transfer of her
little trust with calmness, and then her "Good night" was uttered with a
gentle playfulness, like that of her early days.

Nor was her frame of mind an excitement, or a fictitious experience, to
end with sleep. The next forenoon she renewed the conversation. She
said, "In the night I awoke many times, and always with this thought--I
am not going to live. Instead of fear and dread, peace came with it.
Names of Christ flowed in upon my mind; and once I awoke with these
words in my thoughts--'And there shall be no night there.' Now I know
that I am to die, I feel less nervous. I have a calm, unruffled
feeling." She expressed some natural apprehensions, only, about the
possibility of dissolution not having occurred when we should suppose
that she was no more. I told her how kindly God had ordered it that we
do not all die together, but one by one, the survivors doing all that
the departed would desire--which satisfied her, and removed her only
fear.

She asked leave to make a request respecting her grave; that, if any
device were placed upon the stone, it might be of flowers, which had
been such a joy and consolation to her in her sickness. She named the
lily-of-the-valley and rose buds. "I love the white flowers," said she.
"If you think best, let them be represented in some simple way... One
great desire which I have had was to assort some leaves of flowers into
forms for you. As my bouquets fell to pieces; I gathered the best
petals, and leaves, and sprigs, and I have them in a book;" which, at
her request, I then reached for her. I turned the pages. The book was
full of beautiful relics from tokens of remembrance which kind friends
had sent to her, and among them were some curiously mottled, green and
rose-colored, petals, which she had designed for a wreath, on the first
page of the little herbarium, which it was her intention to prepare; and
then, with great hesitancy, and protesting their unworthiness, she
repeated these simple lines, which she had composed for an inscription
within the wreath. I wrote them down from her lips:


TO MY FATHER.

    These flowers, which gave me such comfort and hope,
      I pressed, in my sickness, for you;
    Accept them, though faded; they never will droop;
      And believe that my heart is there too.

They who showered these tokens of their regard upon her, will be
pleased to know that their gifts did not wholly perish, but that they
will constitute an abiding memorial of her friends, as well as of her.

"I know," she continued, "that I am a great sinner; but I also believe
that my sins are washed away by the blood of Christ." The way of
justification by faith was clear to her mind. She knew whom she
believed, and was persuaded that he was able to keep that which she had
committed to him against that day.

In her whispering voice, which disease had for some time so nearly
hushed, she said, "I shall sing in heaven." Her voice had been the charm
of many a pleasant circle. But she added, "I shall no more sing--

    'I'm a pilgrim, and I'm a stranger;
    I can tarry, I can tarry but a night.'"

And in a moment she added,--

    "Of that country to which I am going,
    My Redeemer, my Redeemer is the light."

"Some people," she said, "wish to die in order to get rid of pain. What
a motive! I am afraid that sometimes they get rid of it only to renew
it. There was--" And here she checked herself, saying, "But I will not
mention any name," a feeling of charitableness and tenderness coming
over her, as though she might be thought to have judged a dying person
harshly.

The day before she died, as I was spending the Sabbath forenoon by her,
she breathed out these words:--

    "O, how soft that bed must be,
    Made in sickness, Lord, by thee!
    And that rest, how soft and sweet,
    Where Jesus and the sufferer meet!"

In almost the same breath, she said, "O, see that beautiful
yellow,"--directing my attention to a sprig of acacia in a bunch of
flowers; all showing that her religious feelings were not raptures, but
flowed along upon a level with her natural delight at beautiful objects.
To illustrate this, I have mentioned several of the incidents already
related.

She spoke of a young friend, who has much that the world gives its
votaries to enhance her prospects in this life. I said, "Would you
exchange conditions with her?" "Not for ten thousand worlds," was her
energetic reply. "No!" she added; "I fear she has not chosen the good
part."

Sabbath afternoon, the mortal conflict was upon her. The restlessness of
death, the craving for some change of posture, the cold sweats, the
labored respiration, all had the effect merely to make her ask, "How
long do you think I must suffer?" That labored breathing tired her; she
wished that I could regulate it for her. "How long," said she, "will it
probably continue?"

I told her that heaven was a free gift at the last as well as at first;
that we could not pass within the gate at will, but must wait God's
time; that there were sufferings yet necessary to her complete
preparation for heaven, of which she would see the use hereafter, but
not now. This made her wholly quiet; and after that she rode at anchor
many hours, hard by the inner lighthouse, waiting for the Pilot.

The last words which she uttered to me, an hour before she died, were,
"I am going to get my crown." I wondered at her in my thoughts, (O, help
my unbelief!) to hear a dying sinner so confident. I said to myself, "O
woman, great is thy faith." She knew that her crown was a free gift,
purchased at infinite expense; a crown, instead of deserved chains,
under darkness. All unmerited, and more than forfeited, yet she spoke of
her crown, because she believed with a simple faith, taking Christ at
his word, and being willing to receive rewards and honors from him
without projecting her own sense of unworthiness to stay the
overflowings of infinite love and grace towards her. So that, in her own
esteem as undeserving as the chief of sinners, thinking as little as
possible of her own righteousness, and being among the last to claim any
thing of God, she could say with one who would not admit that any
sinner was chief above him, "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown
of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at
that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his
appearing."

Between two and three o'clock on Monday afternoon, January 19, she was
quietly receiving some food from the nurse, when suddenly she said, "The
room seems dark." She then made a surprising effort, such as she had
been incapable of for some time, and reached forward from her pillow,
saying, "Who is that at the door?" The nurse was with her alone, and at
her side, the family being at the table. Coming to her room, we found
that she was apparently sinking into a deep sleep, as though it were
only a sleep, profound and quiet.

I asked her if she knew me.

She made no answer.

I said, "You know Jesus." A smile played about her mouth. We rejoiced,
and wept for joy.

I then said, "If you know father, press my hand." She gave me no
sign--that smile being her last intelligent act.--And so she passed
within the veil.

I was able to relate all this from my pulpit the Sabbath after her
decease, not merely because the period of the greatest suffering under
bereavement had not come, but chiefly because the consolations of the
trying scene, and hopes full of immortality, had not lost their new
power. I was therefore like those who, on the first Christian Sabbath
morning, "departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy,
and did run to bring his disciples word."

It is intimated above that the greatest suffering at the death of a
friend does not occur immediately upon the event. It comes when the
world have forgotten that you have cause to weep; for when the eyes are
dry, the heart is often bleeding. There are hours,--no, they are more
concentrated than hours,--there are moments, when the thought of a lost
and loved one, who has perished out of your family circle, suspends all
interest in every thing else; when the memory of the departed floats
over you like a wandering perfume, and recollections come in throngs
with it, flooding the soul with grief. The name, of necessity or
accidentally spoken, sets all your soul ajar; and your sense of loss,
utter loss, for all time, brings more sorrow with it by far than the
parting scene.

       *       *       *       *       *

She who was the sweet singer of my little Israel is no more. The child
whose sense of beauty made her the swiftest herald to me of every fair
discovery and new household joy, will never greet me again with her
surprises of gladness. She who, leaning upon my arm as we walked,
silently conveyed to me such a sense of evenness, firmness, dignity; she
whose child-like love was turning into the womanly affection for a
father; she who was complete in herself, as every good child is, not
suggesting to your thoughts what you would have a child be, but filling
out the orb of your ideal beauty, still partly in outline; her seat,
her place at the table, at prayers, at the piano, at church; the sight
of her going out and coming in; her tones of speech, her helpful spirit
and hands, and all the unfinished creations of her skill, every thing
that made her that which the growing associations with her name had
built up in our hearts,--all is gone, for this life; it is removed like
a tree; it is departed like a shepherd's tent.

And all this, too, is saved. It survives, or I would not, I could not,
write thus. There comes to my sorrowing heart some such message as the
sons of Jacob brought to their father, when they said, "Joseph is yet
alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt."

Jesus of Nazareth has been in my dwelling, and has done a great work of
healing. He has saved my child; saved her to be a happy spirit; forever
saved her for himself, to employ her powers of mind and heart in his
blissful service; saved her for the joyful welcome and embraces of her
mother, and of a second mother, who laid deep and strong foundations in
her character for goodness and knowledge. He has saved her for me,
through all eternity. She will be my sweet singer again; she will have
in store for me all the wonderful discoveries which her intense love of
beauty will have made her treasure up, to impart, when the child
becomes, as it were, parent, for a little while, to the soul of the
parent in heaven, new-born. I said to her, a day or two before she died,
"Those mothers will show you things in heaven; for we read, '_And he
shewed me_ a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding
out of the throne of God and the Lamb.'"

But John mistook this heavenly saint for an angel, so glorious was his
appearance, and he fell down to worship him, but was told, "See thou do
it not; for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets,
and of them which keep the sayings of this book." Then what will she
herself be, when these eyes behold her again? And what will she have
treasured up to tell me? she, who always brought rare things for me from
the woods and the shore, surpassing those of her companions. If He who
redeemed her, and has presented her faultless before the presence of his
glory with exceeding joy, will bestow that nurture and culture upon her
which are implied in leading her to living fountains of waters, what
will she be? and how good it will seem that she left earth so early,
since it was the will of God, to enter upon such a career of bliss!

A few years ago, I appropriated a wedding gift from a friend to the
purchase of a guitar for her, as a birthday gift in her early sickness.
To assist her in learning to play upon it, I first gained some knowledge
of the instrument. We kept it in its case in my study; and sometimes, on
coming home, and feeling in the mood of it, I wished to handle it, and
instead of unlocking the case to see if the instrument were there, I
would knock upon it; and straightway what turbulence of harmonies rang
from all the strings. Now, it is so with every thing connected with her
memory; every thing associated with her, even though outwardly sombre
and dreary, like those black cases for musical instruments, being
appealed to, or accidentally encountered, sings of her still, with a
troubled and a pathetic, pleasing music.

In her very early childhood, she and two of the children were sick with
a children's epidemic. The crisis had passed; an anxious day with regard
to one of the children had been followed by entire relief from our
fears. As we sat at table that evening, we heard music from the chambers
of the sick children; we opened the door and listened. This daughter was
singing, and the chorus of her little school song was, "All are here,
all are here." She did not think of the signification which those words
had to our hearts. It was one of those household pleasures which have so
much of heaven in them. I can sometimes hear her singing to me now,
from those upper skies, in the name of the four who have gone there from
my dwelling, "All are here, all are here." She bequeathed her guitar,
but her voice and hand now join with "the voice of harpers harping with
their harps."

We sometimes think that they miss great good who depart from us in early
years; that one who has arrived at the entrance to the world's great
feast must be sadly disappointed to be led away, never to go in. Now, it
is true that we must not shrink from the battle of life; we must take
upon ourselves, if God ordains it, the great jeopardy of disappointment
and sorrow, and the chance of life's joys; we must each stand in his
lot; we must send children forth into the harvest of the earth for
sheaves, and whether they faint and die under their load, or deck
themselves with garlands,--still, let them be laborers together with
God, and let us not seek exemption for them. But if God ordains their
early translation to heaven, what can earth afford them in the way of
pleasure, granting the cup to be full and unalloyed, to be compared with
fulness of joy? Fair maidens in heaven,--and O, how many of them has
consumption gathered in!--fair maidens there are like the white flowers,
which are sacred to peculiar times and scenes. How goodly must be their
array! What a perpetual spring tide of vivacious joy and delight do they
create in heaven. It is pleasant to have a child among them.

It has been my privilege to see, in this child, an example of true
preparation for death, which begins before the expectation of dying
brings the least discredit, or breath of suspicion, upon our motives in
attending to the subject of religion. Preparation for death consists in
justification by faith, extending its influence into the whole
character, to bring us under the rule of Christ. The fruit of this is
friendship with God, the confidence of love, knowing whom we have
believed, with the persuasion of our having committed to him an infinite
trust, and that he will keep it with covenant faithfulness. So when
death comes and knocks at the door, it is true the heart beats quicker,
as it is apt to do whoever knocks there; for, to give up one's hold on
life, to turn and look eternal things full in the face, to think of
meeting God, and of having your endless condition fixed, summons the
whole of natural and acquired fortitude; and only they who have an
unseen arm to lean upon at such a time, endure in that trial. Then past
experience comes in with her powerful aid: "I have fought a good fight;"
"the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps;" "remember, O
Lord, how I have walked before thee." Thus there is something to make
you feel that your justification, by free grace, has the evidence
afforded by its fruits; and the preparation to die may be likened to
that of which the Saviour speaks when he says, "He that is washed
needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit." I have seen
it, have watched it, have studied it, in the dying scenes of this child.
Hers was not the experience of the sinner, pulled suddenly from the
waves by a hand which he had for a long time, nay, always, spurned; but
her dying was an arrival at the end of a voyage, the coming home of a
good child to long-expecting hearts and arms. We said one to another
around her dying bed,--yes, we had composure to say, as we watched that
parting scene, that fading cloud, that sinking gale, that dying wave,
that shutting eye of day,--"Think of such a poor, helpless, dying
creature, if, in the sense intended by those words, she should 'fall
into the hands of the living God.'" And we glorified God in her. Never
did I see and feel more deeply, by contrast, the folly of trusting to a
death-bed repentance, to repair the errors of a wasted life. It is a
deliberate attempt at fraud upon the Most High; it is folly; for the
risk is fearful, and could we obtain salvation, how mercenarily!--and
what a memorial would it be in heaven of loss, instead of being "a crown
of righteousness!" They who are all their lifetime ignorant, being
unfortunately deprived of opportunity for religious instruction, may
with wonder and joy accept the surprising news of pardon, through
Christ, on a dying bed, and soar to the same heights with apostles in
their praises of redeeming love. But if we hear of salvation by Christ
all our life long, and know our duty, but prefer the pleasures of sin
for a season, and think that in the swellings of Jordan we shall find
peace and safety, our conduct deserves all the opprobrious names which
are heaped upon it by inspired tongues and pens. We who are parents must
teach our children that religion does not consist merely in being
pardoned, and, if pardoned, no matter whether early or late; but that it
is the first, the constant, the all-pervading rule of life, God and his
service the chief end of man, and that the pleasures of religion are the
sweetest pleasures, hallowing all others which are innocent, and leading
us to reject those, and only those, which would be unsuitable or
injurious, even if religious custom did not forbid them. We must know
this, and practise upon it, ourselves; else, how can we expect the
children to believe it?

The exceeding relief which a timely preparation for death by an early
consecration of herself to God, imparted to this child and to us, was
felt in this, that she and we had no distressing thoughts at her total
inability, for a long time, to join in prayer with others, or to be
conversed with in any way that excited much feeling. The diseased
throat, where, as we all know, our emotions, even in health and
strength, make such interference with our comfort, prevented her from
joining in any religious exercises, because she would then be liable to
the excitement of feelings which, in the way just intimated, would have
injured her. With such affections of the bronchial passages, efforts of
mind which are not spontaneous are sometimes agony. Connected endeavors
to follow conversation and prayer were impossible, and she told me, on
saying this, that she took great comfort from a remark, in a book,
addressed to a sick person--"Do not think, but pray." She prayed much
herself; her thoughts, too, were prayers, in certain cases. Now, in that
weakened condition, what could she have done, and what would have been
her father's feelings, had she not, in health and strength, arrived at
such a state of religious knowledge and experience as to remove anxiety
for her spiritual welfare, and to make us feel that she had Christ in
her, the hope of glory? When the cry was made, "Behold, the bridegroom
cometh," she arose and trimmed her lamp, and had oil in her vessel with
her lamp. Wealth could not purchase the relief and satisfaction which
this gave to her friends;--so truly is religion called the "pearl of
great price;" so literally true are the Saviour's words, "But one thing
is needful." It is the greatest blessing which a young person can bestow
on Christian parents, to be a Christian; and what its value is to
surviving parents, ask those who sorrow as they that have no hope. When
a young Christian comes to die, he testifies that he lost nothing, but
gained every thing, with eternal life, by being a Christian in his early
years. I can imagine what this child would say to one and another of her
young friends who may read these pages, and how she would seek to
persuade them, as the first great duty of their existence, and for their
best good here, and for their everlasting peace, to choose the good
part, which will never be taken away from them.

Her funeral was a scene from which many went away rejoicing in God; and
not a few date new progress in the Christian life from it, by means of
the new and striking illustration which they there had of the Saviour's
power and love. The Choir struck the key note of heaven in their opening
strains, by chanting, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive
power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and
blessing." They gave us, too, her favorite song, by which she was
remembered in several circles, at home and abroad, before she was sick,
and the words of which, now, seem to have had a prophetic meaning from
her lips:--

    "I'm a pilgrim, and I'm a stranger;
    I can tarry, I can tarry but a night;"--

which was sung at the funeral with a sweetness which added much to the
associations with it in our minds; and in the closing hymn, how strange
it seemed, at a funeral, to hear the singers, though by our own request
and though in accordance with all which had passed, bid us

    "Proclaim abroad his name,
    Tell of his matchless fame,
      What wonders done!
    Shout through hell's dark profound,
    Let the whole earth resound,
    Till the high heavens rebound,
      The victory's won;"--

and to hear them, as they cried one to another, saying,--

    "All hail the glorious day,
    When, through the heavenly way,
      Lo, He shall come;
    While they who pierced him wail;
    His promise shall not fail;
    Saints, see your King prevail;
      Come, dear Lord, come."

For those ministrations of love and tenderness in the last, sad offices
to the dead, which no wealth could buy, repeated now by some of the same
hands several times in my dwelling, there are no words of gratitude
adequate to the great debt of love. The mothers of my church, who met
weekly with her mother for prayer, remembered her child, and provided
nurses for her, to her own unspeakable comfort and our great relief.
Friends and strangers, touched with her protracted sickness, poured
blessings around her couch; fruits, in their season, and when out of
their season, of what almost unearthly beauty! and flowers which, with
the fruits, made that sick room seem like the garden which the Lord
planted in Eden. Such have been the alleviations of pain and suffering,
the comforts, and even the pleasures, and above all the rich spiritual
consolations and joys, and the more than conquering faith of the dying
hour,--such a union in all this of Jesus and his friends,--that I have
made the case of the ruler of the synagogue mine, of whom, as he went to
his afflicted house, it is said, "And Jesus arose and followed him, and
so did his disciples." They will go wherever Jesus leads the way; and he
will lead the way wherever there is a lamb to be folded in his bosom.

There were not wanting those who lent me their sepulchre, in the city,
for a season--a kindness always peculiar and affecting, but also needful
in this instance, because of the great snows which made the roads to
Mount Auburn impassable for several days. Nor can I forget that, when
Saturday evening closed upon us, words and tokens of kindness came from
the younger members of my congregation, who had provided for the last
earthly things which the precious dust of their young friend required;
and so they seemed to bid me rest from all care and thoughtfulness, upon
the "Sabbath day, according to the commandment." All which should
increase my feelings of sympathy and kindness for the sick, and
especially for the sick poor, whose rooms, and whose dying hours, and
whose griefs, are oftentimes in such contrast to those into which divine
and human loving kindness seem striving to pour their abundant
consolations. As the family retired from the dying scene, and were
weeping together, a father came to my door, in that great snow-storm, to
say that his son, the young man, not a member of my congregation, whom I
had several times visited, was near his end, and would like to see me.
Stranger comparatively though he was, and impassable as the streets were
by any vehicle, and almost by foot passengers, my gratitude for the
sweet and peaceful end of my own dear child, and for her undoubted
admission to the realms of bliss, was such, that, within an hour or two,
I forced my way to a distant part of the city, to assist another
departing spirit for its flight. This heart has no more fortitude, nor
has it less of natural affection and sensibility, than ordinarily falls
to the lot of men; hence those consolations must have been great, that
support and strength equal to the day, that hope concerning my child an
anchor sure and steadfast, which enabled me thus to go from her clay,
just cold, to aid a passing spirit in obtaining like precious faith with
hers, and the same inheritance. My motive in thus lifting a little of
the veil, or in placing a light behind the transparency, of my private
feelings, I trust will be seen to be, that I may comfort others with the
comfort wherewith I was comforted of God.

But there awaits me a blessing, with a joy, surpassing all that has gone
before. "My daughter is even now dead; but come and lay thy hand upon
her, and she shall live." From her grave, which was soon made by the
side of kindred dust, Jesus will raise her up at the last day; her voice
will come to that body; her youthful beauty will be reestablished by
her likeness to Christ's own glorious body; she will lean upon my arm
again; the separation and absence will enhance the joy of meeting; we
shall say, How like a hand-breadth was the separation! We shall see
reasons full of wisdom and love for the sickness and the early death. We
shall part no more. All this has more than once made me say, and sing,--

    "O, for this love, let rocks and hills
      Their lasting silence break,
    And all harmonious human tongues
      The Saviour's praises speak."

Young friend, you will need him as the great Physician, the Friend in
sorrow, the Forerunner in the dark passages of life, the Conqueror of
death, the Lord our Righteousness, and, all endearing names in one,
Immanuel, God with us.

Parents, you will need him for your children. Children, you will need
him when father and mother, one or both, have forsaken you, or, if
alive, can only make you feel how little their fond love can do for you.
When the name of _father_, cannot rouse you, nor your cold hand return
the pressure of your father's hand, you will need a nearer, dearer
friend, in the person of Him who loved you, and gave himself for you.

It has been one of the richest joys of my pastoral life, that I have
sent to her mother in heaven her child, whom God had prepared for so
early a departure out of this world. This ministry of reconciliation has
been blessed to the salvation of my child. It should make me love the
children of my pastoral charge more than ever, seek to gather them into
the fold of Christ, that whole families, each like a constellation, may
rise together in the firmament of heaven; and, in the mean time, that
the members of every household, as they desert us one by one, may call
back to us, and say, for the departed, "All are here."

God takes a family here and there, in a circle of acquaintances and
friends, and greatly afflicts them; and thus he teaches others. As we
look, therefore, upon the afflicted, we ought to say,--

    "For us they languish, and for us they die;
    And shall they languish, shall they die, in vain?"

God is the same when he takes away the child, as when he laid that gift
in our hands. Perhaps, indeed, the removal is really a greater exercise
of love than the gift. It must seem good and acceptable in the sight of
God, if, when we are bereaved, we employ ourselves occasionally in
rehearsing before him the circumstances in his past goodness, which, at
the time, made it exceedingly sweet and precious. Our debt of obligation
for it is not yet fully paid; nor is it diminished at all by the removal
of the blessing. Instead of abandoning ourselves to grief, we do well if
we commune with God more frequently respecting his signal acts of favor
in connection with the lost blessing.

But the memory of lost joys is always apt to depress the mind
inordinately. We question whether it is really better to have

        "loved and lost
    Than never to have loved at all."

Taking a future life into the account, surely no doubt can remain as to
that question; but one who has really loved, will not be long in coming
to the same conclusion, irrespective of the future. Must God abstain
from making us exceedingly happy, because, forsooth, we shall be so
unhappy when, in the exercise of the same goodness and wisdom which
dictated the gift, he sees it best to take it away? If we love him more
than we love his gifts, then the removal of them will make us love him
more than ever.

    "Though now He frowns, I'll praise the Almighty's name,
    And bless the source whence past enjoyments came."

We often hear it said, that every thing which happens to us is for our
good, even in this world.--Many things happen to men, even to
Christians, which are plainly not for their good in this life, though
all things will, eventually, work together for good to them that love
God. Some things, then, even here, are intended to be life-long sorrows
and trials. Their object is reproof and constant admonition. We need
another state of existence to explain the present. If that future state
does not prove that earthly discipline has had its designed effect, the
sorrows of this life show that God can bear to see us suffer, even when
he foresees that no good will result to the sufferer. For while men
suffer excruciatingly under bereavements, these sufferings often fail to
make them better. God foresees all this. Hence God is able to look upon
suffering which he sees will not be for the good of the afflicted.

If, now, his design in our trials (which pierced his heart before they
reached ours) is utterly frustrated by our sins, the question will
arise, whether the God who can bear to see us suffer for our good,
which, nevertheless, he foresees will not be effected, will not be able
to see us suffer as the fruit of our sins, and of our resistance to his
designs. One who has endured much mental suffering cannot have failed to
see, that God's parental relation to us is not analogous to that of
parent and child among men. It terminates in the relations of governor
and of judge; being, indeed, from the first, included in those
relations. This is not so in our earthly relationship. God sees men
suffer as no earthly parent could; he inflicts pain as no earthly parent
should. All is for our profit; but if that object fails through our
perverseness, we are instructed, by our experience, that if God can look
on mental anguish and not relieve it, because he seeks an ulterior good,
the punishment of sin, the natural and just consequences of disobedience
to the great laws of the universe, may be, in their extended impression,
another ulterior good, which will warrant the same mental sufferings
after death, and forever.

Could I be permitted, therefore, I would take by the hand every bereaved
father whom so great an affliction as the death of a child has not
succeeded in bringing into a state of preparation for heaven, and kindly
ask how he expects to bear a final and endless separation. "If thou hast
run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou
contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou
trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of
Jordan?" God describes to his ancient people one of the great sorrows
which will happen to them, if they forsake him, in their separations, by
captivity, from their children: "Thy sons and thy daughters shall be
given unto another people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with
longing, for them all the day long; and there shall be no might in thy
hand." Pains of absence, sudden convulsions of feeling at the remembered
looks, form, words, and motions of a loved one, sometimes are as when
men feel the earth quaking under them; and then, again, they entirely
prostrate us, for the moment, like a tornado. Homesickness in a foreign
land,--an ocean stretching between us and the objects of our love--is
an admonition to us with respect to future, endless separations. The
hopeless death of a child has sometimes had the effect to change the
long-established faith of a parent with regard to future retribution;
all the acknowledged principles of interpretation, all the results of
meditation and prayer, the theory of the divine government which has
been built up in the soul, till it became identified with personal
consciousness, the whole analogy of faith,--all, have been swept away by
the overmastering power of parental love for one who, when he died, left
his friends to sorrow as they that have no hope. Now, supposing a parent
to fail of heaven, and to retain his instinctive parental feelings, the
endless separation between him and his family will be a source of sorrow
which needs only to be kept up, by an ever-living memory, to constitute
all which is pictured in the boldest metaphors of inspired tongues and
pens. A father in disgrace, or under ignominy, suffers intensely when
he sees or thinks of his children, provided his natural sensibilities
are not destroyed. A father punished, hereafter, by his Redeemer and
Judge, a father banished from the company of heaven, knowing that his
family are there, and that if his influence had had its full effect,
they would all have perished with him,--or a father with a part of his
children with him in perdition, the wife and mother with one or more of
the children in heaven,--is a picture of woe which nothing but timely
repentance and faith in Christ may prevent from being a reality in the
experience of some who read these lines. Can it be true, as Bishop Hall
says, that "to be happy is not so sweet a state as it is miserable to
have been happy"? O man, if you have a child in heaven, think that,
among the sweet influences of divine love, there probably is no more
powerful motive to draw your affections towards God, than that glimpse
which you sometimes seem to have of this child's face, on which heaven
has traced its lineaments of peace and bliss; or that sudden whisper of
a gentle, child-like voice, now and then heard by the ear of fancy,
persuading you to be a Christian. Do not let the world, or shame, or
procrastination, lead you to resist such efforts of almighty love to
save you. He who has had a child saved by Christ, and will not be
himself a Christian,--what more can God do to save him?

The breaking up of our homes is one of the mysteries of God's
providence. The last thing, perhaps, which we might suppose would be
allowed, is, the removal of a mother from a family of young children.
This being so frequent, we cease to wonder at any other dispensations;
we conclude that separations are to be made, regardless of any and every
seeming necessity and endearment. "Sirs, I perceive that this voyage
will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but
also of our lives." The conviction is forced upon us that there is
another world, for which we must make all our calculations. "There is a
better world," said the distinguished William Wirt, after the death of
his daughter, in 1831,--"there is a better world, of which I have
thought too little. To that world she has gone, and thither my
affections have followed her. This was Heaven's design. I see and feel
it as distinctly as if an angel had revealed it. I often imagine that I
can see her beckoning me to the happy world to which she has gone. She
was my companion, my office companion, my librarian, my clerk. My papers
now bear her indorsement. She pursued her studies in my office, by my
side, sat with me, walked with me, was my inexpressibly sweet and
inseparable companion,--never left me but to go and sit with her mother.
We knew all her intelligence, all her pure and delicate sensibility, the
quickness and power of her perceptions, her seraphic love. She was all
love, and loved all God's creation, even the animals, trees, and plants.
She loved her God and Saviour with an angel's love, and died like a
saint."[A]

[Footnote A: Kennedy's Life of William Wirt--letter to Judge Carr.]

About the same time, he writes to his wife,--

"I want only my blessed Saviour's assurance of pardon and acceptance to
be at peace. I wish to find no rest short of rest in him,--Let us both
look up to that heaven--where our Saviour dwells, and from which he is
showing us the attractive face of our blessed and happy child, and
bidding us prepare to come to her, since she can no more visibly come to
us. I have no taste now for worldly business. I go to it reluctantly. I
would keep company only with my Saviour and his holy book. I dread the
world, the strife, and contention, and emulation of the bar; yet I will
do my duty--this is part of my religion."

In December, 1833, another daughter died; but he writes,--

"I look upon life as a drama, bearing the same sort, though not the
same degree, of relation to eternity, as an hour spent at the theatre,
and the fictions there exhibited ... do to the whole of real life. Nor
is there any thing in this passing pageant worth the sorrow that we
lavish on it. Now, when my children or friends leave me, or when I shall
be called to leave them, I consider it as merely parting for the present
visit, to meet under happier circumstances, when we shall part no
more."[B]

[Footnote B: Kennedy's Life of William Wirt--letter to Judge Cabell.]

       *       *       *       *       *

"All my children," said the venerable John Eliot, of Roxbury, "are
either with Christ or in Christ." Happy, happy man! The little ones,
blighted soon by the touch of death, surely are with Christ; "for of
such is the kingdom of God." The cherub boy, and the blooming, broken
flower, the young daughter,--the young man in his strength, the young
maiden in her beauty,--are there. As we commune together, in the pages
which follow, on themes touching this subject, God grant that every one
who has not yet gladdened the heart of parent, and pastor, nay, of that
infinite Friend, our Saviour, by the surrender of the heart to God, and
every father and mother who is yet unprepared to join the growing circle
of the family in heaven,--('how grows in Paradise their store!')--may,
as we reach the last page, find that with cords of a man, with bands of
love, He who made Pleiades, and Arcturus and his sons, has united them
in eternal fellowship with their departed loved ones, through faith in
Christ. This, while it hallows the remainder of life with the rich,
mellowed beauty of the changing leaf, and ripening grain, and shortening
days, lays the foundation of that perfect happiness for which our homes
are intended to prepare us; their joys alluring, their separations
pointing, us to heaven.



II.

THE FEAR OF DEATH ALLEVIATED.

    Yea, and moreover this full well know I:
    He that's at any time afraid to die
    Is in weak case, and (whatsoe'er he saith)
    Hath but a wavering and a feeble faith.

GEORGE WITHER.


Unless we know the customs of the wandering shepherds with their flocks,
one verse in the twenty-third Psalm, so often quoted in view of death,
appears abrupt, but otherwise appropriate and very beautiful. One of a
flock is expressing his confidence in God, his Shepherd: "When I have
satisfied my hunger from the green pastures, he makes me to lie down in
them; and the still, clear streams are my drink." Then a thought occurs
which appears as though a dying man were speaking, and not a sheep: but
it is still the language of a sheep. Keeping this in mind, let it be
remembered that the shepherds wandered from place to place to find
pasture. In doing so, they were sometimes obliged to pass through dark,
lonely valleys. Wild beasts, and creatures less formidable, but of
hateful sight, and with doleful voices, made it difficult for the flocks
to be led through such passages. There was frequently no other way from
one pasturage to another but through these places of death-shade, or
valleys of the shadow of death,--which was a term to express any dark
and dismal place.

Now, let us imagine a flock reposing in a green pasture, and by the side
of still waters, conversing about their shepherd, their pastures, and
streams. One of them says, "In the midst of all this peace and
contentment, there is a thought which spoils my comfort. We cannot stay
here forever; we are to go, presently, beyond the mountains; they say
that there are valleys, in those regions, full of dangers. My
expectation is, that we shall be torn to pieces. My enjoyment of these
pastures and waters is nearly destroyed by my forebodings about those
valleys."

Another of the flock replies, "Have we not an able, faithful,
experienced shepherd? Have we not seen his ability to defend us in past
dangers? Is he not as much concerned for our defence and safety as
ourselves? While he is my shepherd, I shall not want.--Yea, though I
walk through those valleys of death-shade, I will fear no evil; for he
is with me; his rod and his staff they comfort me."

The shepherd carried with him two instruments--the staff, for his own
support, and to attack a beast or robber; and the crook, or rod. By this
crook, the shepherd guided a sheep in a dangerous pass, placing the
crook under the sheep's neck, to hold him up and assist his steps. When
a sheep was disposed to stray, the shepherd could hold him back with his
crook. When the sheep had fallen into the power of a beast, the crook
assisted in drawing him away. A good sheep loved the crook as much as
the staff,--to be guided, as well as to be defended. Both of the
shepherd's instruments were a great comfort to the sheep, while passing
through a frightful and dangerous valley.

The interpretation usually given to the words, "thy rod and thy
staff"--as though they meant "thy gentle reproofs and thy severe
rebukes"--is erroneous. A sheep would hardly tell his shepherd that his
chastising rod, and the heavy blows of his staff, comforted him. The
meaning is, It is a comfort to me to feel the crook of thy rod helping
me in trouble, and to know that thy staff is my defence against wild
beasts.

       *       *       *       *       *

Through fear of death, many who are truly the followers of Christ, are,
nevertheless, all their lifetime subject to bondage. On whatever
mountains, into whatever pastures, and by whatever streams, their
Shepherd leads them, they know that there is a valley into which they
must go down, and the imagined darkness and horrors of the place make
them continually afraid.

A fear of death, without doubt, is frequently permitted, as a means of
religious restraint. Some, who have wondered at this trial all their
life long, find that its influence is great in keeping them near to the
Shepherd and Bishop of their souls. If a flock could reason, no doubt
the shepherd would make use of the fears of the sheep, in many
instances, to keep them from going astray. If one of them were inclined
to wander, it would be natural for the shepherd to caution that sheep
against the dark valley, warning him of its terrors, and making him feel
how necessary it would be to have a shepherd there, with his crook and
staff. It may be that apprehensions with regard to death are the most
powerful means, with some, of keeping them from going astray, and of
holding their minds to the contemplation of spiritual things.

It has often been observed that those Christians whose fears of death
were very great for a large part of their life, frequently die with
triumph. The reality is not such as they feared; they found support and
consolation which they did not anticipate.

One of the most trying anticipations with regard to death, in the minds
of many, long before the event arrives, is, separation from those whom
we love. And yet, there is probably nothing in human experience more
remarkable, than the singular resignation, and even cheerfulness, with
which some, who have had every thing to make life desirable, have left
all and followed Christ when he came to lead them through the valley.
The young wife and mother, in her dying hours, becomes the comforter of
her husband; she turns and looks at the infant who is held up to receive
her farewell, and the mother alone is calm, sheds no tear, gives the
farewell kiss with composure. "Thy rod" is supporting her; "thy staff"
is keeping at bay the passions and fears of the natural heart. So a
widowed mother leaves a large family of young children, with a peace
which passes all understanding. And the father of a dependent family,
which never could, in a greater measure, need a father's presence, looks
upon them from his dying bed, and says to them, with the serenity of the
patriarch, "Behold, I die; but God shall be with you." Nothing is more
true than this, that dying grace is for a dying hour; that is, we
cannot, in health and strength, have the feelings which belong to the
hour of parting; but as any and every scene and condition, into which
God brings his children, has its peculiar frames of mind fitted to the
necessity of each case, we need not make the useless effort to practise
all the resignation, and experience all the comforts, which come only
when they are actually needed. We do not often hear the first part of
the following passage quoted; but in such rocky and thorny paths as we
are often made to pass through, how good it is to read: "Thy shoes shall
be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be." If God is
our Shepherd, he will cause us to pass, one by one, through the valley
which is before us, leaving some most dear to us on the hither side.
Suppose that when a shepherd is employed in removing his flock from one
mountain to another, through a valley, one of the flock should mourn his
separation from companions, or from its young. The shepherd would say,
"You cannot all pass together; leave your companions and the young to
me; I will restore them to you on the other side." He might also
remonstrate and say, "Am I not, as their shepherd, interested in
protecting and removing them? You can add nothing to my strength and
wisdom; let me take you safety through the valley, and trust me to do
the same for them."

The ancient shepherd was specially careful of the lambs; he carried them
in his arms, and sometimes folded them beneath his shepherd's coat. We
can imagine the feelings of some of a flock when, leaving them at a
short distance, but within sight, the shepherd would take a lamb, carry
it down into the valley, and disappear with it for a little while. With
all their confidence in their shepherd, some of the flock would manifest
uneasiness at the separation, especially if the valley looked dark and
dangerous. If it were the only lamb of its mother, it was natural for
that mother to be distressed, and to lament. Though the young creature
had gone safely to the other side, and was at play in the new pasture,
and the mother believed it, this could not always quiet her. The good
Shepherd has taken some of our lambs through the valley. They are safe
upon the other side. They have joined the flock of Christ. Let us give
our lambs to the Shepherd's care, to bear them through the valley,
whenever he sees fit that they should be removed. We must all pass
through that valley. If, from special love to our young, he will see
them safely on the other side before he calls for us, we will intrust
them to Him who claims our confidence by saying to us, I am the Good
Shepherd. One of the prophecies concerning Christ reveals that tender
love and care, on his part, for children, which characterized him while
on earth: "He shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his
bosom."

The fear of death is owing, in many cases, to the dread of dissolution.

The previous sickness prepares the soul and the body for their
separation, so that, in very many cases, it is the greatest relief to
die. We are, perhaps, mistaken if we suppose that those Christians who
are in great bodily pain in their last hours, suffer in mind. The
effects of death on the frame do not necessarily disturb the
tranquillity of the soul. The body may be in spasms while the soul is at
peace; and the reverse is true;--as in nightmare, when the mind is
distressed while the body sleeps. A Christian has nothing to fear in
this respect. To die will not be--as in full health we suppose it is--a
violent rending asunder of the soul from the unyielding grasp of the
body; but the preparation of the mortal frame for dissolution, by the
sickness, however rapid, also fits the mind for the event. Even in
cases of death by accidents, this appears to be true.

       *       *       *       *       *

But many feel that to die is to be transferred suddenly, and with
violence, into strange scenes, which must overwhelm and distract the
senses. It seems to them that it must be like being whirled instantly
into a distant, unknown city, and waking up amidst the confusion and
strangeness of that place. We cannot believe that such is the experience
of dying Christians. It would rather seem that there is, at first, a
perception of spiritual forms, of ministering spirits, whispering peace
to the soul, and assuring it of safety, and bidding it fear not. It is
said of angels, "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to
minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" When can we need
their ministry more, than in the passage from this world to the world of
spirits? Perhaps the disclosure is made of some departed friends; and
the fancy of those who thought that they saw beloved ones beckoning them
away, may have had its foundation in truth. There is much of
probability in that well-known piece, "The dying Christian's address to
his soul;"--and no part of it is more probable than this:--

    "Hark! they whisper; angels say,
    Sister spirit, come away."

It is not improbable--it seems accordant with divine goodness--that such
methods should be employed to relieve the anxiety of the departing
spirit. Sometimes the dying Christian has declared that he heard
enrapturing music. It is possible that voices were employed to soothe
him to sleep, and to soften the transition, from the full consciousness
of life, to the revelations of the heavenly world. Perhaps the effect of
disease upon the organs of hearing was such as to produce something like
sounds, which, in a joyous state of mind, were pleasurable. During the
siege of Jerusalem in 1836, the wife of an American missionary sung
while dissolution was actually taking place. The tones of her voice,
they said, seemingly more than mortal, were far different from any
thing which they had ever heard, even from her. God is often pleased to
use these natural effects of dissolution on the body, to comfort the
passing spirit of his child. Whether visions or real voices are actually
seen or heard, is of no consequence, so long as the soul has a rational
and assured hope. Some means are unquestionably used in every case to
make the dying believer feel that he is safe. He is not compelled to
wait in uncertainty and fear for a moment. His fears are anticipated; he
is among other friends, the moment that he grows insensible to those who
watch his departing breath. Neither are we to suppose that heaven breaks
upon the senses of the spirit with such an overpowering brightness, as
to excite confusion and pain. No doubt the revelation is gradual and
most pleasant. Perhaps the celestial city appears at first in the
distance, having the glory of God most precious; the approach to it is
gradual; voices are heard afar off, and from the convoy of ministering
spirits, such information and instructions are received as prepare it
for the full vision of heaven. Every thing is calm and serene; the light
is attempered to its new and feeble vision. He who makes the sun to rise
by slow degrees, and does not pour straight, fierce rays upon the waking
eyes even of sinful men, certainly will not torment the soul of his
child with any such revelations of unseen things as will give pain. The
same care which has redeemed and saved him, will order all these things
in covenanted love.

Some of the preceding thoughts are well expressed in the following
anonymous lines, written on seeing Mr. Greenough's group of the Angel
and Child ascending to Heaven:--

 "CHILD.  Whither now wilt thou proceed?
  ANGEL.    Come up hither; I will show thee.
          Follow me with joyful speed;
            Leave thy native earth below thee.
  CHILD.  Stop! mine eyes cannot contain
            Such a wondrous flood of light.
  ANGEL.  Come up hither. Thou shall gain,
            As thou risest, stronger sight.
  CHILD.  Lost in wonder without end,
            Joyful, fearful, longing, shrinking,
          Lead me, O thou heavenly friend;
            Keep a trembling child from sinking.
          O, I cannot bear this glory!
            Angel brother! how canst thou?
  ANGEL.  I will tell thee all my story;
            I was once as thou art now.
  CHILD.  When some sorrow did befall me,
            Or I felt some strange alarms,
          Then my mother's voice would call me,
            To the shelter of her arms.
          Now what bids my heart rejoice,
            Clasped in arms I cannot see?
          Hark, I hear a soothing voice
            Sweetly whispering, Come to me.
  ANGEL.  Yes, it calls thee from on high;
            Come to God's most holy mountain;
          Thou hast drunk the stream of life;--
            I will lead thee to the fountain."

Some dread the thought of being out of the body and finding themselves
spirits. This is wholly without reason. The soul will not suffer from
losing this body of sin and death; it will have as perfect a
consciousness, it will know where it is, and what is passing before it,
as seems to be the case in a vivid dream when the bodily senses are
locked in slumber.

As to the natural repugnance which we have to the thoughts of burial and
the grave, it is probable that the soul of a redeemed spirit thinks and
cares as little concerning these things, so far as painful sensations
are concerned, as we do about our garments when we are falling asleep.
The vesture which we formerly wore gives us no solicitude. It is
wonderful to hear the sick, long before they die, give directions, or
express desires, respecting their burial. So far from thinking of the
grave as a melancholy place, no doubt the departed spirit will often
think of it in the separate state with pleasure, as the place where it
is hereafter to receive a form like Christ's; and the thought of
resurrection adds greatly to the joys of heaven.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is something still which affects the minds of many Christians with
fear as they think of dying; and that is, their appearing before God.
They cannot imagine the possibility of seeing him without distraction;
his infinite majesty, and their own sense of unworthiness, make them
afraid.

But who is God? Is he the Christian's enemy? Will he sit like a king on
his throne, and see his subject come trembling into his presence? Is
this the God who loved him? Is this the Saviour that died for him? Is
this the Holy Spirit who awakened, converted, sanctified, comforted him,
and promised to present him faultless before the presence of his glory
with exceeding joy? God will not have done so much to bring him to
heaven, and, when he comes there, make his appearance before his throne
a matter of fear and uncertainty. He who fell on the neck of the
returning prodigal and kissed him, will not keep him at a distance when,
with the best robe, and the ring, and the shoes, he comes into his
father's house. Our first apprehensions of God will be happy beyond our
present comprehension. What an image have we, in these words, of a man
helping a child, by the hand, through a dangerous or dark way: "For I
the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not;
I will help thee." If "I will be with thee," is the reason, which he
himself assigns why we should not be afraid, why should we fear to come
into his presence?

As to a consciousness of guilt, there is no doubt that he who falls
asleep in Jesus, with reliance on his blood and righteousness, will
immediately, at death, receive such a consciousness of being purified
from all taint of sin, as now is beyond our conception. In the language
of Scripture, we shall be presented faultless before the presence of his
glory with exceeding joy. For the sake of Christ, in whom we trust, we
shall be received and treated as though we had never sinned; we shall
say, in the full assurance of pardon, righteousness, and peace with God,
without waiting for the question to be asked in our behalf, "Who is he
that condemneth?" "It is Christ that died."

And if this be so, as it surely is, why may not Christians in this world
before they die, nay, from the first hour of justification by faith in
Christ, triumph thus in him? Why should their remaining sinfulness,
their poor, frail, erring nature, which they must carry with them to the
grave, prevent them from having the same joy in God through our Lord
Jesus Christ, by whom also we have received the atonement? Every true
believer in Jesus Christ is warranted in having the same consciousness
of pardon and peace with God, now, as after death; the justifying
righteousness of Christ is as powerful now as it will be then. Some tell
us, "Live a sinless life, and you may have this perfect peace." That is
self-righteousness. It will not be a sinless life which, in the moment
after death, will make us to be openly acknowledged and acquitted; it
will be the righteousness of Jesus Christ which is by faith; and he who
has faith in that righteousness may, living as well as dying, here as
well as in heaven, say, 'There is, therefore, _now_ no condemnation to
them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after
the spirit.'

There are several things which may reconcile us to the thought of dying:

       *       *       *       *       *

All the people of God since the creation, with two exceptions, have
died. Of the two who were excepted, neither of them was his only
begotten Son. Those whom God has loved peculiarly have not been exempted
from the stroke of death. Shall we ask exemption from that which, all
the good and great have suffered? Let me die the death of the righteous.
If he must find the grave, there will I be buried. We would not go to
heaven but in the way which prophets, apostles, martyrs trod. The
footsteps of the flock lead through the valley; we will seek no other,
no easier, way.

       *       *       *       *       *

Surely we should be willing to follow our great Forerunner. He tasted
death for every man; and he could enter into his triumph only by dying.
We should be more than resigned to follow our blessed Lord into the
tomb. Christ conquered death by dying; we shall be more than conquerors
in the same way. If we suffer great pain, we cannot suffer more than
Christ suffered on our account. Sufferings borne in the spirit of Christ
are counted as sufferings borne for Christ. "If we suffer, we shall also
reign with him." "If so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also
glorified together."

       *       *       *       *       *

Death is a part of the penalty of sin. We should, therefore, submit to
it, giving up our bodies to be destroyed, in fulfilment of that sentence
which we have so justly incurred--"and unto dust shalt thou return." He
who hates sin, and condemns himself for it, and is willing to have
fellowship with Christ in his sufferings for it, as it is most
graciously represented that we may, will bear the execution of God's
righteous sentence with a willing mind.

       *       *       *       *       *

Death is the perfecting of our redemption. It is the last act of
redeeming grace. When the Saviour, who says, "I have the keys
of--death," (i.e., no one can die but at the time and manner prescribed
by me,) takes us out of the world, it is to finish the work of our
personal salvation. All the circumstances attending it will be as
deliberately appointed, and as carefully watched and directed, as the
first great act of grace towards us in our regeneration. He, too, who
has provided such pastures and streams for us here, in removing us to
living pastures and to living streams, will, of course, see that we go
safely through the valley which must be passed to reach them. It will
not be a new thing to Christ to see us die. He has watched the dying
beds of millions of his friends, he has had great experience as a
Shepherd in bringing them through the valley.

       *       *       *       *       *

See that chamber in yonder mansion, where all the comforts, and some of
the luxuries, of life, have contributed to prepare for some mysterious
event. The garden of Eden failed to possess such joys as are there in
anticipation, and are soon to be made perfect. Every thing seems
waiting, with silent but thrilling interest, for the arrival of an
unknown occupant. And there is raiment of needle-work, and of fine
twined linen, and gifts of cunning device, from the looms of the old
world, and from graceful fingers and loving hearts here, every want
being anticipated, and some wants imagined, to gratify the love of
satisfying them. And now God breathes the breath of life, and a living
soul begins its deathless career, amidst joys and thanksgivings, which
swell through the wide circles of kindred and acquaintanceship. The Holy
Spirit, in the process of time, renews and sanctifies the soul through
the blood of the everlasting covenant; and having, through life, walked
with God, the day arrives when the spirit must return to God who gave
it. You saw how it was received here, at its entrance into the world.
You have seen what the atonement, and regeneration, and sanctification,
and providence, and grace, have done for it, and with what accumulated
love the Father of Spirits, and Redeemer, and Sanctifier, must regard
it. And now do we suppose that the shroud, and coffin, and the funeral,
and the narrow house, and the darkness, and the solitude and corruption,
and the whole dreary and terrible train of death and the grave, are
symbols of its reception into heaven, the proper pageantry of its
arrival and resting place within the veil? Believe it not! If God
prepared in our hearts such a welcome for the infant stranger, that even
its helpless feet were thought of and cared for, surely when those feet,
wearied in the pilgrimage of the strait and narrow way, arrive at
heaven's gate, it must be, it is, amidst rejoicings and ministrations of
love to which earth has no parallel. Let kings and queens prepare a
royal room for the new-born prince: "In my Father's house are many
mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a
place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come
again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be
also."

Could we look into that place, as it stands waiting for its occupant
from earth, we should behold sights which would instantly clothe even
death with beauty, and make it seem now, as it will seem then, a blessed
thing to die.

       *       *       *       *       *

To miss of dying would no doubt be a calamity. Dying will be an
experience to the believer which will be fraught with inestimably good
things; that is, the act of dying, and not merely the being dead. It is
no doubt as necessary to the nature of the soul, to its psychology, its
soul-life, as the changes of the worm, chrysalis, and butterfly, are to
the insect. And thus, as in all other things, where sin abounded, grace
much more abounds, and even death, like a cross, is turned into a
ministration of infinite blessing.

It is not unsuitable for a dying Christian to consider, that he is
compassed about with a great cloud of witnesses, who themselves have
died, and who are watching his departure. We ought to die with such
faith in Jesus, such confidence in God, such confident expectation and
hope, that they will rejoice to see us conquer death. Our last conflict
should be fought in a manner worthy of the company and scenes into which
we are immediately to pass.

We should not anxiously seek to remove entirely from any one, in the
course of his life, his fears with regard to death, except as we may
substitute faith for those fears. God probably intends them now for the
increase of faith. Moreover, when the event of death happens, it will be
mingled with so much mercy as to make the Christian smile at his fears.
The exhortation of the apostle in view of his great discourse of death
and resurrection is noticeable: "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye
steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord;
forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."

There are cases in which the clouded faculties, or delirium, prevent
the full enjoyment of a peaceful, happy death. Such cases seem painful
to friends, but the Shepherd knows when it is best to hide the face of a
sheep which he carries through the valley, and that it is sometimes
better for the sheep to pass the valley in the black and dark night,
than when daylight, by revealing the horrors of the place, would excite
fear. All this may safely be left to those hands which spoiled death of
his sting, and to that love which is stronger than death. Wherever, and
whenever, and in whatever manner we may die, it will be under the care
and direction of Him who will no more see us in the power of the enemy,
than a strong and faithful shepherd would suffer a beloved member of his
flock to fall into the power of the lion.

The last lines of a hymn by Doddridge--

    "Then speechless clasp thee in my arms,
    The antidote of death"--

are altered, by some compilers, who substitute the word _conqueror_ for
_antidote_. But the author saw the truthfulness of his own chosen
language, though the word in question be not convenient for musical
expression. When we are already stung by a poisonous creature, we take
something which proves an antidote to the effect of the sting. This
medicine is not so much a conqueror, as an antidote; for the poison is
not developed. But the sting is inflicted, and before the poisonous
injury is felt, the antidote prevents it. These words of Christ
correspond to this: "Verily, verily I say unto you, If a man keep my
saying, he shall never see death." How often we behold this verified!
The spectators "see death," in his approach, in his effects; they weep
and tremble, while the dear patient does not "see" it; for something
else absorbs his thoughts, fixes his attention; he is stung, indeed, by
the monster; but Christ is an antidote to death, causes it to pass by
without inflicting pain upon the mind, or in any way hurting its victim.
Dr. Watts illustrates and confirms all this:--

    "Jesus, the vision of thy face
      Hath overpowering charms;
    Scarce shall I feel death's cold embrace,
      If Christ be in my arms."

       *       *       *       *       *

The piece of paper which would suffice to write the twenty-third Psalm
upon it, would not be large enough for a common title deed; and yet that
Psalm, if it expresses our experience, is worth infinitely more than is
conveyed, or secured, by all the registries of deeds under the sun. We
are each of us to see a time when we shall feel the truth of this. If
but these first few words of the Psalm are true in my case, if "the Lord
is my Shepherd," all the rest of the Psalm is a record, a promise, a
pledge, of past, present, and future good.

There are six things declared by Christ to be characteristic of the
relation which he and his people sustain to each other, as Shepherd and
the sheep:

1. "My sheep hear my voice;

2. And I know them;

3. And they follow me;

4. And I give unto them eternal life;

5. And they shall never perish;

6. Neither shall any pluck them out of my hand."

Here we find directions to duty, as well as promises of future good.

Since it is more important how we live than how we die, and since death
is merely the arrival at the end of a journey, the beginning, progress,
and history of the journey determining what the arrival is to be, we
shall do well to dismiss our borrowed trouble with regard to the manner
of our departure out of the world, and be solicitous only with regard to
the right discharge of present duty. We read, "Precious in the sight of
the Lord is the death of his saints." The death of every child of his
is, with God, an object of unspeakable interest; his own honor is
concerned in it; its influence on survivors is of great importance; it
will be among the means by which God accomplishes several, it may be
many, purposes of providence, but especially of his grace. "No man
dieth to himself." Great interests are involved in his death, beyond
his own personal welfare. Now, if we have lived for God, he will make
our death the object of his especial care, and will honor it by its
being the means of promoting his glory. Instead, therefore, of gloomy
apprehensions as to dying, we should cherish the noble wish and aim that
Christ may be magnified in our body, whether it be by life or by death.
If our life has been a walking with God, "THOU ART WITH ME" will be a
perfect warrant, now, and in death, to "FEAR NO EVIL."



III.

THE SEARCH FOR THE DEPARTED.

    No bliss mid worldly crowds is bred,
    Like musing on the sainted dead.

BISHOP MANT.


We seek in vain, on earth, for one who has gone to heaven. Though better
informed as to the objects of our love than they who lingered about the
deserted tomb of the Saviour, and were asked, "Why seek ye the living
among the dead," we nevertheless find ourselves, in our thoughts,
searching for them; so difficult is it at once to feel that they are
wholly and forever departed. There is an affecting and beautifully
simple illustration of our thoughts and feelings, in this respect, in
the search which was made for Elijah after his translation. Fifty men of
the sons of the prophets went and stood to view afar off, when Elijah
and Elisha stood by the Jordan. Elisha returned alone, and these men
could not feel reconciled to the loss of their great master. They were
not persuaded that he had gone to heaven, no more to return; they sought
leave to seek him, and to recover him: "Peradventure," they said, "the
Spirit of the Lord hath taken him up and cast him upon some mountain, or
into some valley." Elisha peremptorily refused to grant them leave. They
were importunate; and when, at last, it would, perhaps, seem like
obstinacy in him, or like jealousy of their superior love for Elijah, to
forbid the search, which at the worst would only be fruitless, he
yielded. Three days they explored the valleys, ransacked the thickets,
groped in the caves, traversed hills, followed imaginary trails and
footprints, but found him not. When they came again to Elisha, "he said
unto them, Did I not say unto you, Go not?"

We cannot become accustomed at once, nor for a long time, to the absence
of our friend. If his death was sudden, or if it took place away from
home, or during our absence, we expect to see him again; if a vehicle
stops at the door, the heart beats with an instantaneous hope which dies
with its first breath, bringing over us a deeper and stronger refluence
of sorrow. We catch a sight of articles familiarly used by a departed
friend; they are identified with little passages in his history, or with
his daily life: is it possible that he is altogether and forever
disconnected from them? They are the same; those perishable things,
those comparatively worthless things, having no value at all except as
his use of them made them precious, retain their shapes and places; but
where is he? and must not he return and abide, like them?

No, he is gone to heaven. The places which knew him shall know him no
more forever. Those things, which have an imperishable value in being
associated with his memory, are, to him, like the leaves of a past
autumn to a tree now filled with blossoms. The mention of every valued
possession once indescribably dear to him, would awaken but slight
emotions; even the recent history of the dwelling which he built and
furnished, would be no more to him than the rehearsal to a grown person
of that which had happened to a block house, or card figure, which
amused his childhood. We walk and sit in the places identified with our
last remembrances of the departed; but he is not there; we hallow the
anniversaries of his birth and death; but he gives us no recognition; we
read his letters; they make him seem alive; his voice, his smile, his
love are there; and when we have finished, nature, exhausted with its
weeping, sighs, "And where is he?"

He is gone to heaven. Even the earthly house of his tabernacle is
dissolved; that part of him which was all of which we were cognizant by
our senses, is no more. We could not recognize it; to the earth, out of
which it was taken, it has, by slow degrees, returned,--as though every
thing earthly, belonging to him, 'must needs die, and be as water spilt
on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.' We travel to his
birthplace; there is the house where he was born; we meet those who grew
with him side by side; we are among the scenes which were most familiar
to him; he planted those trees; he collected those pictures; there is
his portrait, he rested here, he studied, he worked, he rejoiced, he
wept, in these consecrated places; but did we go thinking to find him
there? "Did I not say unto you, Go not?"

We shall surely make him real to our thoughts, if not to our senses,
where he lies buried. But we may as well stand upon the sea shore, where
we had the last look of a sea-faring friend, and think that those
waters, and those sands, and that horizon, will restore him. They only
serve to open farther the path of his departure; they lead our thoughts
away to dwell upon him where we imagine him to be. Nowhere does heaven
seem more real than at the grave of a friend; for we know that he has
not perished, and as we stand on that verge of all our fruitless search
and expectation, we are compelled to fix him somewhere in our thoughts;
but as he is nowhere behind us, we look onward and upward.

Our desire for departed friends, however natural and innocent, if it
resulted as we sometimes would have it, would prove to be unwise.

Suppose that those "fifty strong men" had found Elijah, or in any way
could have prevented his translation to heaven. With exultation, they
would have led him back across the Jordan to the company of their
friends, amidst the thanksgivings of the people. But, alas! for the
prophet himself, this would have been his loss, even had it proved to be
their gain. The opening Jordan, cleft in twain by his rapt spirit,
pressing its way to the skies, had returned to its course; and now the
fords of the river, with its rocky bed, would have required his laboring
feet to grope their way back to his toil; or the arms of men, instead of
the chariots of fire and horses of fire, would have borne him again to
the dull realities of life; and there, rebuking Ahab, and fleeing from
Jezebel, punishing the prophets of Baal, and upbraiding the people of
God in their idolatries, fasting and faint under junipers, or covering
his face with his mantle at the still small voice of the Lord his God,
he would again have prayed, "O Lord God, take away my life, for I am no
better than my fathers." 'Let me not wait longer for my promised
translation; let me die as my fathers did; for wherein am I better than
they?' So weary had he grown of life. Blind and weak do these fifty
strong men seem to us, in searching for this ascended prophet, this
traveller over the King's road in royal state, one of the only two who
might not taste of death; the companion, in heaven, of Enoch, with a
body which fills all the ransomed spirits there with joyful expectation,
because it is a pledge and earnest of "the adoption, to wit, the
redemption of their bodies." If, amid the new wonders and raptures of
the heavenly world, he had had one moment to look down upon those
"fifty strong men," as they searched for him, he might well have used,
in cheerful irony, something like his old upbraidings of the priests
near Baal's altar: "Search deeper, ye 'strong men,' in the thickets and
caves; peradventure I sleep in the brakes, and must be awaked; call,
with your fifty voices together, that I may be startled from my trance;
will ye give over till ye bring me back to Jericho? Will ye search but
three days? Shall I lose the remnant of my life on earth?"

And while they grew weary and discouraged, and concluded that, if he
should be found, it might be in the far distant hills of Moab, or the
wilds of Philistia, or they knew not where, and went back with hearts
unsatisfied, and debating whether he were yet a wanderer upon earth, or
whether so impossible a thing as they deemed his translation to heaven,
without dying, had taken place, the glorified Elijah was with Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob, with Moses, Joshua, Samuel, and David. But even
Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like him. There, with a body
like unto Christ's own future glorious body, he sat, with but one
compeer--Enoch, and he, transcending all the hosts of the redeemed in
the foretasted glories of the resurrection. Adam, by whom came death,
sees in him that which he himself is to share, when by one Man, also,
shall come the resurrection from the dead. Abel, whose feet first trod
the dark, cold stream, leaving his murdered body behind him, beholds
with love and wonder him who passed the river of death ("that ancient
river!") without dying. Even the Word beholds in him an earnest of his
own incarnation, resurrection, and ascension from Olivet. To-day, our
loved ones in heaven look upon him, and say, as Peter did at this
prophet's visit on Tabor, (when he spoke of tabernacles there--"one for
Elias,") "Master, it is good for us to be here." But we, like the "fifty
strong men," would find them and bring them back; and, like Peter,
would build tabernacles to retain them. The family circle is gathered
together at some birthday or festival, and, perhaps, we long for the
departed, and think that they long for us; and we would bring them back,
and place them in their deserted chairs. We are "strong men" in the
power of grief, and in our wishes; but the search for Elijah is the
counterpart of our vain desires and most unreasonable sorrow.

When our friends have gone to heaven, it is not apt to be heaven, so
much as earthly sorrow, which fills our minds. Happily, we have been
taught to believe, and we do generally believe, that the souls of the
righteous enter immediately into glory; that their happiness is perfect,
though not completed; they are as happy as disembodied spirits can be;
unspeakably happier than they were here, but still not in full
possession of those sources of pleasure which they will receive when
their bodies are raised, and their whole natures are made complete. But
"to die is gain;" it is "to depart and to be with Christ, which is far
better;" it is entering "into the joy of their Lord." That dreary
thought of sleeping after death till the day of judgment; the idea that
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, became insensible at death, and that the last
thing which Jacob, for example, knew, was Joseph's kiss, and the next
thing which he will know will be the archangel's trump, the interval of
many thousands of years being a perfect blank in his existence, is so
unlike the benevolent order of God's providence in nature and grace,
that it cannot gain much credence with believers in the simple
representations of the Bible. What a mockery Elijah's translation seems,
upon that theory! Whither was he translated? Did the chariots of fire,
and the horses of fire, convey him to a dreamless sleep of thousands of
years? Was that pomp, that emblazonry, all that fiery pageant, a
deception signifying nothing but that the greatest of prophets was to
begin a stupid slumber, which, this day, under a heaven with not one
redeemed soul in it, and in a world where there is every thing to be
done for God and men, holds him, and every other dead saint, in a
useless suspension of his consciousness, and, indeed, for so many ages,
annihilation? Poor economy in the dispensation of overflowing love to
intelligent beings,--we say it with submission,--does this seem to be;
nor can we think that, in the case of Elijah, it was this which was
heralded by horses and chariots of fire. Chariots and horses are emblems
of flight; but if sleep were descending upon the hero of the prophetic
age, twilight would more appropriately have drawn her soft veil over
nature, birds would have begun their vespers, clouds would have put on
their changing, pensive colors, while cadences of music, breathed by the
winds, would have shed lethargic influences into the scene. Inspiration
does not trifle with us by really meaning such a preparation for a sleep
of ages, and yet informing us, in so many words, that "the Lord would
take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind." No; going to heaven is not
going to sleep, and going to sleep is not going to heaven. Sleep and
death are used figuratively for each other, according to the laws of
language, which describes appearances without regard to scientific
truth, as in speaking of the sun's rising, for example, and the going
down of the sun; but to fall asleep in Jesus is to awake in heaven; to
be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. This we all
believe; and may we never be moved away from this cheering, animating
hope. Yet how little power has this belief and hope upon our feelings
and conduct! for our Christian graces partake of the same imperfection
which characterizes our whole nature; the soil is poor in which they
grow; the seasons are short, the climate cold; they do not reach
maturity. It is instructive to notice how men who have had the very best
advantages, and the greatest knowledge, are, nevertheless, prone to
unbelief. Christ appeared to his disciples, and upbraided them because
they believed not them which said he was risen. Their incredulity
strikes us as marvellous. They were not the first, nor the last, whose
want of faith is a marvel. These sons of the prophets in Elisha's day
were equally slow to believe. They themselves had said to him, "Knowest
thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to-day?"
Elisha came back to them from the scene of the translation. Of course he
told them what had happened, describing minutely the whole of that
preternatural scene; he probably related the conversation which Elijah
had with him as they walked; and this inspired companion of the departed
prophet, having himself no doubt that Elijah had gone to heaven, so
instructed these sons of the prophets. But how hard it is for the things
which are unseen and eternal to seize and hold our minds! how readily we
yield to surmises, rather than admit the clear disclosures of spiritual
things! Straightway these sons of the prophets, who should have retired
each to his secret place, for contemplation and prayer, and, in the
solemn assembly, should have directed the thoughts of each other and of
the people to the instructive lessons suggested by the departure of
Elijah to heaven, were making up an exploring party, to prove that their
illustrious chief had met with some disaster in being left forlorn upon
some mountain, or in a valley; that the spirit of God had entranced him,
and that his weary feet, instead of treading the pavement of heaven,
were ensnared in some dark place; and so, in pity for him, and with
filial love, they would seek him, and bring him back to Jericho!

If we had clear and strong faith, our joy at the thought of a glorified
spirit, however necessary its presence to us here, would transcend all
our sorrows; the streaming beams of sunshine would irradiate our
weeping; we should think more of his happiness than of our discomfort.
Instead of departed spirits falling asleep, it is we who have a spirit
of slumber. O that we might walk by faith with glorified spirits before
the throne, instead of remanding them,--as it seems we sometimes would
do, if we could,--to the ignorance and infirmity of our condition.

Our feelings towards the departed are the same as towards other
prohibited things. Many are continually seeking for pleasures which God
has taken away, or is purposely withholding from them. Let any one look
at the history of his feelings, and see if his state of mind be not one
of perpetual expectation of some form of happiness yet to arrive; an
ideal of bliss, some prefigured condition, in which contentment and
peace are to abide; while the discovery that he is not to have it, would
make him inconsolably miserable. Our search for lost joys, or for those
which God is not prepared, or not disposed, to give us, and the
happiness which he desires rather to give us, and to have us seek, are
severally represented to us by this search for Elijah, and by Elijah
himself, who is, meanwhile, at God's right hand. At his right hand are
pleasures forever-more; but some, in the ardor and strength of their
affections, are seeking for that which they will never obtain, and that
is, happiness independent of God. Some tell us that they mean to make
the most of life, and to be happy while they live; therefore, begone,
reflection! religion is not for the spring-tide of youth; mirth and
merry days are for the young; soberness and the russet garb of autumn
belong to the decline of life, which certainly to them, they think, is
far off;--as though every material necessary for their last, long sleep,
may not at this moment be in the warerooms and shops; as though they
could boast themselves even of one to-morrow, and knew what the
to-morrows of many years would bring forth. The Bible is against their
way of thinking and manner of life; and to push aside the Bible in our
search after any thing, is a certain sign of being in the wrong. And all
this with the mistaken belief that to love God, and to be loved of him,
is not the greatest, the only satisfying good,--the God that framed the
voice for that music which charms a circle of friends, and made those
curious fingers, and gave them all that cunning skill which sheds
delight on others, and empowered that heart to swell with such
conceptions of earthly pleasure;--and that to love him, and be loved by
him, is the direst necessity of our being, to be postponed as long as
possible, and then to be accepted as a last resort and the less of two
evils. Where is the Lord God of Elijah, the God of all power and might,
the God of all grace and consolation, the God of our life, and the
length of our days? Banished from the world which these friends have
made for themselves; an intruder into the charmed circle in which the
wand of fancy has enclosed them; a dreaded power standing over them, to
snatch away the only bliss which they ever expect to enjoy. O gilded
butterflies, made for a few days of sunshine, and doomed to perish at
the first touch of frost! had they no souls; were there no hereafter, no
heaven, no hell; if it would not be as desirable to be happy millions of
years from to-day, as now; if they were not including all their hopes
and efforts to be happy within a handbreadth of time, and liable to lose
even that,--the wise man might stop with saying, "Rejoice, O young man,
in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and
walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes;" but
the infinite future compels him to add, "but know thou, that for all
these things God will bring thee into judgment." Such are the motives by
which, in their present condition, and with their present views, they
are most likely to be affected; yet some of them, we are glad to say, in
their best moods, are also affected and influenced aright when we tell
them that, even if our existence terminated at death, the joys which are
now to be found in loving and serving God, are better than the pleasures
of sin for a season.

There is not one of us who has not lost a friend, a schoolmate, a
companion of early life, one who has disappeared from our side, a
frequent associate in the business of life, or one whom we have been
accustomed to see in the places of business; and perhaps a member of our
family circle.

Now, it is profitable to consider that the same thoughts which we have
of them, others will ere long have concerning us. What would make us
satisfied and happy to know respecting them? What are we glad to say of
their preparation for an eternal state? What would we have had that
preparation be? In what respects better or different? Where do we love
to assign them their places? And what is it pleasant to believe are
their thoughts of us, of earth, of eternity, of the gospel, of this life
as a season of preparation for heaven? We shall soon be the subjects of
the same contemplations in the minds of others. The hosts of that long
procession, of which we are the part now passing over the stage, are
urging and pressing us from behind, and we must go down, as others have
before us,--our love, our envy, our hatred perish,--and we no more have
any portion in all that is done under the sun.

We must give up happiness as the great aim and end of existence, and,
instead of it, take this for our supreme endeavor and chief end--the
conscientious performance of our duty to God, and to others. We are
never really happy till we cease to expect happiness from the things of
this world. As soon as we begin to be satisfied with God, and find that
to think of God, to love him, to trust in him, to serve him, is
happiness enough, we attain to solid peace; and then, turning and
following the sun, all desirable pleasure pursues us and solicits us,
like our shadows, the more eagerly and steadily the more that we flee
from them, and the less that we turn ourselves to them. We never can be
happy by searching for happiness; but when we give up this search, and
duty becomes the motto of life, we are inevitably happy. God must
satisfy us--his personal love to us, communion with him, the
contemplation of his character, ways, and works; in short, the
consciousness of having him for a personal friend, disclosing all our
thoughts to him, looking to him and waiting for him in all things, and,
as the Bible expresses it, "walking" with him. Then he makes our wants
his care; and while he leads us through strange paths which we should
not have chosen, it is to bring us, at the last, into a condition which
will make us happy chiefly from the reflection that God himself
appointed it. Disappointments, of which we were forewarned, and which we
had every reason to expect, embitter that life whose only sources of
happiness are confined to this world, and do not relate to God. Making
him the supreme source of our happiness, we give up undue sorrow for
departed friends, feeling that they are removed from all need of our
commiseration, and all power to afford us comfort and help, any further
than their example and remembered words instruct us. We shall then be
chiefly concerned to know and to do the will of God, to watch over the
interests of our souls, preparing for life, with its important duties,
and storing up those recollections which are to occupy our thoughts in
the review of life beyond the grave. We shall bear in mind that we, too,
are to have survivors, to whom it will be the greatest favor if we leave
a good assurance, based upon their remembrance of our piety, that we are
happy, thus constraining them to follow us to heaven. We shall do well
if we habitually say, as Elijah said to Elisha, "The Lord hath sent me
to Jordan;" and that we are one day to be taken up and conveyed to that
same heaven whither Elijah went, and from which he came to meet Christ,
and to speak with him of his decease, which he should accomplish at
Jerusalem. What if we knew that some day, not far distant, flaming
chariots and horses, over our dwelling, would wait to bring us home to
God? The ministering spirits are already designated who are to perform
this office for those who are heirs of salvation. What, then, are we
searching for among the dark, gloomy valleys of sorrow, or on the hills
of earthly vision? If our friends are with Christ, we must be prepared
to be with him, or lose their society; and that loss will be worse than
the first.

Sometimes we feel as though we were sailing away from our departed
friends, leaving them behind us. Not so; we are sailing towards them;
they went forward, and we are nearer to them now than yesterday; and the
night is far spent; the day is at hand. If life, or any undue portion,
be spent in grief which unfits us for duty, we shall see, in heaven, how
much better it would have been had we had more faith, and had lived more
as then we should desire our surviving friends to live, quickened and
strengthened by the assured hope of our being in heaven, and by the
expectation of meeting us there.

But there is one kind of sorrow and desire for departed friends which,
in its consequences, is greatly to be deplored. Some refuse to become
decided Christians, because their friends, they think, were not
believers in the faith which these surviving friends are now persuaded
is the truth. To embrace this truth, as essential to salvation, it is
felt, will be to condemn these departed friends; and some have, in so
many words, declared that they preferred to share the fate of their
companions, or children, who gave no evidence of having accepted the
gospel, as it is now viewed by these survivors.

How sad would be such a catastrophe as this: The departed friend, in the
secret exercises of his mind, and by the good Spirit of God, may have
been, at the last hour, prevailed upon to accept the offers of salvation
by a crucified Redeemer. He gave no intimation of this, owing, perhaps,
to bodily weakness, or to fear and distrust; but, through infinite
mercy, he was saved by faith in the Lamb of God. The surviving friend,
persuaded of the truth, refuses to comply with it, and loves the
departed friend more than Christ, or truth and duty; and then, dying,
finds that the departed friend is saved, through that very faith, which
the other refused from idolatrous attachment to the departed; and now
they are separated; whereas, had the survivor forsaken all for Christ
and the truth, he would have had a hundred fold in this world, and, in
the world to come, would have found that friend whom he would, as it
were, have forsaken for Christ's sake and the gospel's. It is safe, it
is best, for each of us to do his duty, to walk by the light afforded
us, and not to make a creature our standard, nor our chief good.

If we meet certain of our friends at the end of their search after
pleasure, having forgotten their God and Saviour, and see them
disappointed, and utterly destitute of any thing to make them happy
forever, and all because they would not forego their chase after
unsatisfying pleasure,--there is many a faithful Christian friend, whose
example and advice they disregarded, who could then reply, "Did I not
say unto you, Go not?"

In the name of some unspeakably dear to you, we say, "We are journeying
unto the place of which the Lord said, I will give it you; come thou
with us, and we will do thee good; for the Lord hath spoken good
concerning Israel."

Our friends, who have gone to heaven, ought not to be invested, in our
thoughts, with such melancholy associations as we are prone to connect
with them. To die is gain. Trouble, and sorrow, and the dark river,
interpose between us and heaven; but in the prospect which has opened
before the eye of the redeemed spirit, there is nothing but widening and
brightening glory. We must not seek for consolation at their departure
by bringing them back, in our thoughts, to our dwellings, but by going
forward, in faith, ourselves, to their dwelling. There is much to
encourage and help us in doing so, in the following lines, which may be
read with profit upon each anniversary of a friend's departure to
heaven, until surviving friends read them at the returning anniversaries
of our own entrance into the joy of our Lord:--

    "A YEAR IN HEAVEN.


    A YEAR UNCALENDARED; for what
      Hast thou to do with mortal time?
    Its dole of moments entereth not
      That circle, mystic and sublime,
    Whose unreached centre is the throne
      Of Him, before whose awful brow,
    Meeting eternities are known
      As but an everlasting now.
    The thought removes thee far away,--
      Too far,--beyond my love and tears;
    Ah, let me hold thee, as I may;
      And count thy time by earthly years.

    A YEAR OF BLESSEDNESS; wherein
      Not one dim cloud hath crossed thy soul;
    No sigh of grief, no touch of sin,
      No frail mortality's control;
    Nor once hath disappointment stung,
      Nor care, world-weary, made thee pine;
    But rapture, such as human tongue
      Hath found no language for, is thine.
    Made perfect at thy passing, who
      Can sum thy added glory now?
    As on, and onward, upward, through
      The angel ranks that lowly bow,
    Ascending still from height to height
      Unfaltering, where rapt spirits trod,
    Nor pausing 'mid their circles bright,
      Thou tendest inward unto God.

    A YEAR OF PROGRESS, in the love
      That's only learned in heaven; thy mind
    Unclogged of clay, and free to soar,
      Hath left the realms of doubt behind,
    And wondrous things which finite thought
      In vain essayed to solve, appear
    To thy untasked inquiries, fraught
      With explanation strangely clear.
    Thy reason owns no forced control,
      As held it here in needful thrall;
    God's mysteries court thy questioning soul,
      And thou may'st search and know them all.

    A YEAR OF LOVE; thy yearning heart
      Was always tender, e'en to tears,
    With sympathies, whose sacred art
      Made holy all thy cherished years;
    But love, whose speechless ecstasy
      Had overborne the finite, now
    Throbs through thy being, pure and free,
      And burns upon thy radiant brow.
    For thou those hands' dear clasp hast felt,
      Where still the nail-prints are displayed;
    And thou before that face hast knelt,
      Which wears the scars the thorns have made.

    A YEAR WITHOUT THEE; I had thought
      My orphaned heart would break and die,
    Ere time had meek quiescence brought,
    Or soothed the tears it could not dry;
    And yet I live, to faint and quail
      Before the human grief I bear;
    To miss thee so, then drown the wail
      That trembles on my lips in prayer.
    Thou praising, while I vainly thrill;
      Thou glorying, while I weakly pine;
    And thus between thy heart and mine
    The distance ever widening still.

    A YEAR OF TEARS TO ME; to thee
      The end of thy probation's strife,
    The archway to eternity,
      The portal of immortal life;
    To me the pall, the bier, the sod;
      To thee the palm of victory given.
    Enough, my heart; thank God! thank God!
      That thou hast been a year in heaven.



IV.

THE SILENCE OF THE DEAD.

    Dear, beauteous Death, the jewel of the just.
      Shining nowhere but in the dark,
    What mysteries do lie beyond thy dust,
      Could men outlook that mark!
    He that hath found some fledged bird's nest, may know,
      At first sight, if the bird be flown;
    But what fair field, or grove, he sings in now,
      That is to him unknown.

HENRY VAUGHAN.


The silence of the dead is one of the most impressive and affecting
things connected with the separate state of the soul. We hear the voice
of a dying friend, in some last wish, or charge, or prayer, or farewell,
or in some exclamation of joy or hope; and though years are multiplied
over the dead, that voice returns no more in any moment of day or night,
of joy or sorrow, of labor or rest, in life or in death.

The voices of creation return to us at periodical seasons. The early
spring bird startles us with her unexpected note; the winter is over and
gone. But no periodical change brings back the voices of departed
friends. A member of the family embarks on a long voyage; but, be it
ever so long, if life is spared, the letter is received, in which the
written words, so characteristic of him, recall his looks and the tones
of his voice. Years pass away, and the sound of his footsteps is at the
door again, and his voice is heard in the dwelling. But of the dead
there comes no news; from the grave no voice, from the separate state no
message. With our desire to speak once more to the departed, and to hear
them speak, we feel that they must have an intense desire to speak to
us. We wonder why they do not break the silence. There is so much of
which they could inform us; it would be such a relief, we think, to have
one word from them, assuring us that they arrived safely, and are happy,
and, above all things, granting us their forgiveness for the sins which
now have awakened sorrow. But we wait, and look, and wonder, in vain.

When we think of the number of the dead, this silence appears
impressive. Their number far exceeds that of the living. Could they be
assembled together, and could those now alive be set over against them,
upon an immense plain, to a spectator from above we should be a small
company in comparison with them. Should they lift up their voices
together, ours could not be heard. Yet from that vast multitude we never
hear a voice,--not even a whisper,--nor see a sign. Standing in a
cemetery a few miles distant from the great city, you hear the low,
muffled roar from the streets and bridges, reminding you of the living
tide which is coursing along those highways. But with eight thousand of
the dead around you in that cemetery, and a world of spirits, which no
man can number, just within the veil, you hear nothing from them. No one
comes back to tell us of his experience; no warning, nor comfort, nor
counsel, ever reaches our ears. Whatever our trouble, or our joy may be,
our need or prosperity; however long and painful the absence of the
departed may have been; however lonely we may feel, wishing for some
word of remembrance and love; and though we visit the grave day by day,
and call on the name of the departed, and use every art of endearment to
pierce the veil between us,--there is the same determined, cold, lasting
silence. "To go down into silence" is a scriptural phrase for the state
of the dead.

Our feelings seek relief from those vague, uncertain thoughts respecting
the dead which we find occasioned by the gentle manner in which death
most frequently occurs. The breath is shorter and shorter, and finally
ceases, yet so imperceptibly, that, for a moment, it is uncertain
whether the last breath has expired. There is no visible trace of the
outgoing of the soul. Could we see the spirit leave the body, we should
feel that one of the mysteries of death is solved. Could we trace its
flight into the air, could we watch its form as it disappeared among
the clouds, or melted away in a distance greater than the eye can
comprehend, we should not, perhaps, ask for a word to assure us
respecting the state of the soul. But there is no more perfect
delineation of the appearances which death presents to us, than in the
following inspired description: "As the waters fail from the sea, and
the flood decayeth and drieth up, so man lieth down and riseth not; till
the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their
sleep." We see the lying down, the fixedness of the posture, the utter
disregard, in the cold remains, of every thing which passes before them;
and these remains are like the channels of a river, or the flats of the
sea, when the tide has utterly forsaken them. The soul is like those
vanished waters, as to any manifestation that it continues to exist.

We miss the departed from his accustomed places; we expect to meet him
at certain hours of the day; those hours return, and he is not there;
we start as we look upon his vacant place at the table, or around the
evening lamp, or in the circle at prayers. No tongue can describe that
blank, that chasm, which is made by death in the family circle, or the
variations in the tones of sorrow and desire with which those words are
secretly repeated, day after day, and night after night: "And where is
he?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Is there any assignable cause for the silence of the dead?

We cannot, with certainty, assign the reason for it, and we do not know
why the dead are not suffered to reappear to us. We can, nevertheless,
see great wisdom and use in this silence, and in our perfect ignorance
respecting their state.

_It is the arrangement of divine Providence that faith, and not sight,
shall influence our characters and conduct._--It would be inconsistent
with this great law if we should see or hear from the dead.

The object of God, in his dealings with us, is to exalt the Bible as our
instructor. If men were left to visions and voices, in which there is so
much room for mistake and delusion, the confusion of human affairs would
be indescribably dreadful. Every man would have his vision, or his
message, the proof, or the correctness, of which would necessarily be
concealed from others, who might have contrary directions, or
impressions; and human affairs would then be like a sea, in which many
rivers ran across each other.

It would not be safe for departed spirits to be intrusted with the power
of communicating with the living. Though they know far more than we, yet
their information is limited; and, especially, if they should undertake
to counsel us about the future, as they would do in their earnestness to
help us, we can easily see that, being finite as they are, and unable to
look into the future, they might involve us in serious mistakes, either
by their ignorance, or by the contrariety of their information. Far
better is it for man to look only to God, who sees the end from the
beginning, with whom is no variableness, and who is able, as our anxious
friends would not be, to conceal from us the future, or any information
respecting it, which it would be an injury for us to know. Should we be
informed of certain things which will happen to us years hence, either
the expectation of them would engross our attention, and hinder our
usefulness, or the fear of them would paralyze effort, and destroy
health, if not life. Borrowed trouble, even now, constitutes a large
part of our unhappiness; but the certain knowledge of a sorrow
approaching us with unrelenting steps, would spread a pall over every
thing; while prosperity, far in the prospect, would tempt us to forget
our dependence upon God, and would weaken the motives to patient
continuance in well doing for its own sake.

Then, with regard to any assurance which the dead would give us about
truth and duty, we need not their help. For the dead can tell us
substantially no more than we find recorded in the Bible. They would
describe heaven to us, and speak of future punishment. But suppose that
they did. What language would they use more graphic, or more
intelligible to us, than the language of the Bible? Whatever they said,
we should feel obliged to compare it with the Scriptures; if it should
be according to them, we do not need it. Besides, the appearance to us
of departed friends, would, in many cases, only operate on our fears.
But the Bible pleads with us by many gentle motives, as well as by
warnings and terrific descriptions, and sets before us numberless
inducements to repent, which the whole world of the dead, uninspired,
could not so well furnish. The appearance and words of a spirit would
excite us, and make us afraid; we could not feel and act as well, under
such influences, as we can under the calm, dispassionate, convincing,
and persuasive influences of the Bible. One of the most intelligent and
cultivated of women, the wife of a missionary in Turkey, in her last
sickness, having heard her husband read to her several times, from the
Pilgrim's Progress, respecting the River of Death and the Celestial
City, at last said to him, as he was opening the book, "Read to me out
of the Bible; that soothes me; I can hear it for a long time; but even
Bunyan agitates me."

As much as we suppose it would comfort us to have intercourse with the
dead, it is easy to see that the great law of the divine government, by
which faith, and not sight, is the appointed means of our spiritual
good, would be violated, could the dead speak with us. We are to trust
in the mercy and the justice of God. This we could not so well do, if we
knew things about which, now, we are obliged to exercise faith. The
inspired Word, the only and the all-sufficient rule of faith and duty,
is a better guide than the voices of the dead.

An interesting illustration of this is given by one who witnessed the
appearance of departed spirits on a certain most interesting occasion.
Two illustrious men, of the Jewish line, appeared and spake with
Christ. The person of the Saviour experienced a remarkable
transfiguration, assuring his human soul of the joy set before him; the
presence of the celestial spirits, also, confirming his assurance
respecting the separate existence of souls, and the whole transaction
being designed to strengthen the faith of the disciples, and of the
world, in the Saviour.

But what comparative value does one of the inspired witnesses of this
scene give to this heavenly communication, these voices of the dead, and
this visit from the heavenly world? Does he build his faith upon it, as
upon a corner stone? No; but after telling us, in glowing language,
respecting this most wonderful and impressive scene, he says, "We have
also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take
heed as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn,
and the day star arise in your hearts." That sure word,--"more sure"
than the testimony of departed spirits, or than voices from the other
world,--is the Bible; for he immediately adds, "For the prophecy came
not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they
were moved by the Holy Ghost." The testimony of departed spirits, even
of Moses and Elijah, might be, after all, only "the will of man;" but in
the Bible men have spoken as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

As to its being a comfort, in any case, that departed friends should
speak to us, it is doubtful whether it would prove to be so. Suppose
them to utter words of endearment; this would open the fountains of
grief in our souls afresh. Suppose them to tell us that they are safe
and happy; it would be far better for us, in many cases, to hope
respecting this, than to know it; the knowledge of it might make us
careless and too confident about ourselves; we should be less inclined
to shun the errors of these friends, to guard against their
imperfections, and to fear lest a promise being left us of entering into
that rest, any of us should seem to come short of it. One of the most
inconvenient and uneasy states of mind, is that of insatiable
curiosity--longing to know that which is concealed, dispirited at the
delay of information, refusing effort except under the spur of absolute
assurance. Far better and more healthful is that state of mind which
performs present duty, and leaves the rest to the unfolding hand of
time; which disdains that prying, inquisitive disposition which is all
eye and ear, which lives on excitement, which has no self-respect, nor
regard for any thing but to know something yet unknown. If God suffered
the dead to speak to us, we should always be on the watch for some sign;
we should be unfitted for the common, practical duties of life; we
should be superstitious, visionary, fanatical, timorous. As it is, how
eager we are to pry into the future, or into things purposely hidden
from us! If it were certainly known that one had communication with the
dead, or if we had good reason to expect such communications, labor
would be neglected, faith, prayer, hope, confidence in God would
decrease, the Bible would be undervalued through a superior regard to a
different mode of revelation, and we should live, as it were, among the
tombs. A morbid state of feeling would pervade our minds, and the world
would be full of enchantments, necromancy, and cunning craftiness.
Blessed be God for the silence of the dead! We are glad that our weak
and foolish hearts, so prone to love the creature more than the Creator,
are broken off, by the impenetrable veil of death, from all connection
with the departed. The salutary influences of death on survivors would
be greatly lessened, if our connection and communication with them were
continued. God is our chief good, not our friends, nor our children; he
shuts them up in silence from us, to see if we can say, "Whom have I in
heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides
thee." The painful effect upon our feelings, and upon our nervous
system, of separations from departed friends, is involuntary and
natural; but to cherish our griefs, to spend much time in melancholy
moods, or in poring over the memorials of the departed, so as to excite
and indulge morbid feelings, is not Christian nor wise.

While this is true, and there is much immoderate and irrational grief,
the disposition, with many, is to forget the dead as soon as possible,
and forever. Some need to think far more of the deceased. They should
remember that the dead are alive; that no doubt they think of them; and
that, instead of being separated farther and farther from the deceased,
by the lapse of time, they are every day coming nearer and nearer to
them, and they must meet again.

It is well for us frequently to remember that the silence of the dead is
no true exponent of their real state. Incoherent and wild as the
thoughts and feelings sometimes are, under the distracting influence of
affliction and death, and all uncertain as we are about the departure of
the soul, we are not left without sure and most satisfying information
respecting the separate state.

There is no annihilation. The life of the soul is not extinguished like
the flame of a lamp. Existence is not that lingering, twinkling spark
which it seems to be in the moments preceding death. To be absent from
the body, for a Christian, is to be present with the Lord; to die is
gain; to depart, and be with Christ, is far better. When the dust
returns to the earth as it was, the spirit ascends to God, who gave it.
The soul is more vigorous and active than when shut up in the body,
because a higher form of life is required in being with God and angels.
We are told that the pious dead are "the spirits of just men made
perfect." All imperfection arising from bodily organization, as well as
from our fallen state here, has ceased, and the soul has become a pure
spirit, in a spiritual world, engaged in spiritual pursuits. Memory is
awake; every perceptive faculty is in perfection; the soul that sees far
distant places, in a moment, in sleep,--that holds converse with other,
but absent, minds, while the body is sealed in slumber,--not only does
not need the present body to make it capable of perception, but when
escaped from this material condition, and from dependence upon these
bodily senses, which now are like colored glass to the eyes, it will be
far more capable than before; though the spiritual body, at the last,
will advance it to a still higher condition. Its judgment is sound, its
sensibilities are quick, its thoughts are full of unmixed joy. But we
probably could not understand the nature of its employments, nor its
discoveries, nor its sensations, any further than we now do from the
word of God. We have no record, nor tradition, of any disclosures made
by Lazarus, or the widow of Nain's son, or the dead who came out of
their graves at the crucifixion, and went into the Holy City, and
appeared unto many. The only way to account for this seems to be, to
suppose that they told nothing of what they had seen or heard. Had they
made any disclosures of the unseen world, those disclosures would never
have been forgotten. They would have been preserved in the memories of
men, to be handed down from age to age. Paul himself had no very
distinct recollection of what he had heard and seen in Paradise; for he
says that he could not tell whether he was in the body or out of the
body. We think in words, which at the time are intelligible, but we
often fail when we try to produce them; so that Paul's expression, very
singular in each part of it,--"heard unspeakable words,"--may refer to
the impressions made on his own mind in his revelations, as not possible
to be clothed in speech. It may have been with him, upon his return to
the body, and with the risen dead, as it was with Nebuchadnezzar, who
knew that he had dreamed, and the dream had made powerful impressions on
his mind, but the dream itself had departed from him. Now, if the bodily
senses, or the soul while in the body, cannot comprehend so as to
express what has been seen in heaven, it is doubtful if we could
understand it if it should be revealed by a spirit from heaven. The
Bible has probably given us as definite information about heaven as we
could possibly understand--certainly as much as God judges best for our
usefulness and happiness. But we must probably learn an unearthly
language, and, in order to this, unearthly ideas, before we can
understand the things which are within the veil. The modes of
communication in heaven between people of strange languages, whether by
a common speech, or by the power given to the disciples at the day of
Pentecost, or by intuition, are not made known to us; but this wonderful
faculty of language, holding an intermediate place between spirit and
matter, has, of course, a corresponding faculty in the world of spirits.
It is, no doubt, an inconceivably pleasurable source of enjoyment. This
increases the sublimity which there is in the silence of the dead, and
its impressiveness. For what fancy can conceive of the communications,
from heart to heart, in that multitude where every new acquaintance is
the occasion of some new joy, or wakes some thrilling recollection, or
leads to some interesting discovery, and gives some fresh objects of
love and praise! The land of silence surely extends no farther than to
the gates of that heavenly city. All is life and activity within; but
from that world, so populous with thoughts, and words, and songs, no
revelation penetrates through the dark, silent land which lies between
us and them. Our friends are there. Stars, so distant from us that their
light, which began its travel ages since, has not reached us, are none
the less worlds, performing their revolutions, and occupied by their
busy population of intelligent spirits, whose history is full of
wonders. Yet the first ray denoting the existence of those worlds, has
never met the eye of the astronomer in his incessant vigils.

The silence of the departed will, for each of us, soon, very soon, be
interrupted. Entering, among breaking shadows and softly unfolding
light, the border land, we shall gradually awake to the opening vision
of things unseen and eternal, all so kindly revealing themselves to our
unaccustomed senses as to make us say, "How beautiful!" and instead of
exciting fear, leading us almost to hasten the hand which is removing
the veil. Some well-known voice, so long silent, may be the first to
utter our name; we are recognized, we are safe. A face, a dear, dear
face, breaks forth amidst the crayoned lines of the dissolving night;
a form--an embrace--assures us that faith has not deceived us, but
has delivered us up to the objects hoped for, the things not seen.
O beatific moment! awaiting every follower of them who, by faith and
patience, inherit the promises--dwellers there "whither the Forerunner
is for us entered."

       *       *       *       *       *

As we are soon to be utterly silent towards surviving friends, and the
world in which we now live, we should use our speech as we shall wish we
had done when we are silent in death. Any counsels, instructions,
records, explanations, communications of any kind, which we would make,
we should be diligent to perform. All the loving words, and tokens of
affection, which we may suppose we shall hereafter desire to
communicate, we shall do well habitually to bear in mind, and let them
influence our feelings and conduct, day by day. In times of sickness, of
separation, of absence, at happy returns, our feelings towards familiar
friends and members of the family are such as might well be the
standard, and pattern, of our general intercourse, especially when we
think that the days will come when we shall highly prize and long for
that intercourse, which now we have such opportunity to enrich with
sweet and fragrant recollections, occasioning no pang of regret, nor
sting. It is well to remember that, one day, we must part, and to let
that anticipation intensify our love, and add charms to this daily
companionship, which may soon appear to be a privilege which we did not
sufficiently prize.

The time will come, when, to many a beloved survivor, a word or sign,
breaking the silence of the departed spirit, and giving some assurance
that it is happy, would, perhaps, be the means of dispelling a life-long
sorrow--would lift a crushing burden from the heart. The time to prepare
that assurance, so that it shall come with most effectual power, is now,
in days of health, when the evidences of our piety shall not be
attainted by a suspicion of constraint and insincerity, arising from
late repentance and an apparently forced submission to God. Our
recollections of a departed Christian friend, of whose salvation his
pious life makes us perfectly assured, come over us like the soft
pulsations of a west wind in summer, laden with the sweets of a new-mown
field; or like the clear, streaming moonlight in the brief interval
between the broken clouds; or like remembered music, which some
accidental word of a song has startled from its place and diffused
through the soul. Thus departed Christian friends are the means of
unspeakable happiness to survivors; thus "their works do follow them;"
and we should make large account of this when we are weighing the
question whether we will now, or in the closing hours of life, so
fearfully uncertain, begin to love and serve God.

The question which earth asks respecting one and another, "Where is he?"
is no doubt repeated in heaven: Have you met him in any of these
streets? Did you see him on yonder hills? Angels, returned from other
happy worlds, have you heard of him? Where is he? He is conscious,
intelligent, receiving sensations from objects around him as vividly as
ever. But, Where is he?

Of others, the question could be answered by ten thousand happy voices,
"All is well." With regard to many, the silence of the dead, forbidding
our inquiries, is the only thing which, in any measure, composes the
grief of friends. But as to our Christian friends, we have no more
reason to inquire with solicitude respecting them, than concerning the
Saviour himself. "I go to prepare a place for you,"--"that where I am,
there ye may be also." The dying Christian may truly say to his friends,
as the Saviour did to his: "WHITHER I GO YE KNOW, AND THE WAY YE KNOW."



V.

THE REDEMPTION OF THE BODY.

    What though my body run to dust?
      Faith cleaves unto it, counting every grain
    With an exact and most particular trust,
      Reserving all for flesh again.

GEORGE HERBERT.


It is good to think of Michael, the archangel, disputing with the devil
about the body of Moses. The dispute was over a grave. The Most High had
himself performed the funeral rites of his servant; for, we read, "The
Lord buried him." We naturally think of the archangel as placed in
charge of the precious dust.

Some great commission, connected with the resurrection of the dead,
appears to be held by the chief spirit of the angelic world. "For the
Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of
the archangel, and the trump of God." The burial of each and every body
which is destined to the resurrection of the just, is, therefore, not
improbably an object of interest with him who, under the God-man, will
have the supervision of the last day. With a view to that harvest of the
earth, he will now see the furrows made, the seed planted, the hill
prepared. He will have a care that every thing lies down, whether by
seeming accident, or by violence, or by design, in just the place from
which the arranging mind of Him who is Lord both of the dead and of the
living, has appointed it to come forth. Every circumstance attending
that event, the great object of hope in heaven and on earth,--our
resurrection,--is of sufficient importance to be the subject of thought
and preparation on the part of Christ, himself the first fruits of them
that slept.

The care of the patriarchs concerning their burial places is like one of
those premonitions in an antecedent stratum of geology, or species of
animals, of a coming manifestation;--a prophesying germ, a yearning,
created by Him who, with all-seeing wisdom, establishes anticipations
in the moral, as well as in the natural, world, concerning things with
regard to which a thousand years are with him as one day.

Not on earth alone, as it seems, is an interest felt in the death and
burial of the righteous.

For when the leader of Israel in the wilderness went up to the hill top
to die, the two great angels, of heaven and hell, met and contended over
his grave.

Denied the privilege of burial in the promised land, Moses may have
appeared to Satan so evidently under the frown of God, as to encourage
his meddlesome efforts to inflict some injury upon him, through dishonor
done to his remains. Perhaps he would convey them back to Egypt, a gift
to the brooding vengeance of the Pharaohs, who would gratify their anger
by preserving that body in the house of their gods;--thus showing their
spiteful satisfaction at the disappointment of the prophet whom Jehovah
would not permit to enter that promised land, in hope of which the
great spoiler had led away the bondmen of Egypt.

Perhaps the devil would gratify the desire of some idolatrous nation,
craving new objects of worship, by leading them to canonize this Hebrew
chief; and thus make of the lawgiver and prophet of Israel a false god.

Perhaps he could even prevail on some of the Israelites themselves, if
not the whole of them, to worship this revered form; or might he but
have the designation and the custody of his grave, he would, perhaps,
fix it where it would be most convenient for the nation to assemble, at
stated times, for some idolatrous rites.

But the great vicegerent of the resurrection was there. To him the body
of a saint is suggestive of the last day; it is a special assignment by
Christ, an official trust, to the archangel. Bodies of saints are,
therefore, most precious to him. Particles of the precious metal are not
more precious to the miner, pearls to the diver, ivory to the
Coast-merchant, and the shell-fish to the maker of Tyrian purple. The
body of each saint is an unfinished history of redemption; a destiny of
indescribable interest and importance belongs to it. Any subaltern angel
may have charge of winds and seas, of day and night, of summer and
winter; but only the archangel is counted meet to have charge, and to
keep watch and ward, over the bodies of saints as they sleep in Jesus.

"He disputed about the body of Moses." It was a dispute characterized on
the part of the archangel more by act than word. Words are hushed in
great encounters. Debate with a pirate, a body-snatcher, would be folly;
no arguments, therefore, were wasted, on the top of Nebo, by Michael,
over the grave of Moses. "The Lord rebuke thee," was his retort; his
heavenly form stopping the way, his baffling right arm hindering the
accursed design, were the invincible logic of that dispute.

O prince of angels, watchman, herald, master of the guard, at the
resurrection of the just,--comptroller, now, of that treasury which
receives and keeps their precious forms,--from whose lips that signal
is to come which millions on millions are to hear, and live,--what
images of glory and terror fill thy mind in the anticipation of that
moment when thy dread commission is to be fulfilled! Is not that
"trumpet" sometimes taken into thy hand? Dost thou not place it to thy
lips, but quickly lay it aside, and patiently and joyfully watch the
swelling number of the graves of saints? Funerals of those who fall
asleep in Jesus, to thee are pleasant scenes; they are spring-work,
planting times, for thy harvest, O chief reaper! While, with bursting
hearts, we turn from the new-made mound, one more glorified body, in
anticipation, is added to thy charge.

Smiling at our sorrow, in joyful thought of the change to be witnessed
in and around that sepulchre when the family circle shall there put on
incorruption, thou canst not pity us except as we pity the brief sorrows
of children. If the devil should approach that spot, to work some
unknown, and, to us, inconceivable, harm to that body,--be it the body
of the humblest saint, one of those little ones who believe in Jesus, or
of those infants whose angels do always behold the face of God,--thou,
mighty cherub, wouldst be there, and, if need be, with a band of angels,
"every one with his sword upon his thigh, because of fear in the night;"
and Nebo and its "dispute" would reappear. Poor, dying, mouldering body!
hast thou the archangel himself for thy keeper? Not only so:

    "God, my Redeemer, lives,
      And often from the skies
    Looks down and watches all my dust,
      Till he shall bid it rise."


Nor is it strange, since we read, "The body is for the Lord, and the
Lord for the body." "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the
Holy Ghost which is in you?"

To rise from the dead seems to have been something more to Paul than
going to heaven, or than being in heaven. He knew that he was to spend
the interval between death and the resurrection in heaven; but beyond
even this, he had a joy which he felt was essential to the completeness
of the heavenly state.

See the proof of this in the following words: "If by any means I might
attain unto the resurrection of the dead."

Since he was destined, like all of Adam's race, to come forth from his
grave, he needed to make no effort whatever merely to rise from the
dead; that was inevitable, and irrespective of character. Besides, he
represents this object for which he strove as something which required
effort, which cannot be said of merely rising from the grave.

Paul had been permitted to know, by personal observation, what the
rising from the dead implies. Caught up into Paradise, we may suppose
that he had seen the patriarch Enoch, and the prophet Elijah, with their
glorified bodies; the presence of which in heaven, we may imagine, has
ever served to enhance the happiness of that world, by holding forth,
before the eyes of the redeemed, the sign and pledge of their future
experience when they shall receive their bodies. For it is not
presumptuous to suppose that the sight of Enoch and Elijah has been, and
will be, till the last trumpet sounds, a source of joyful expectation to
the inhabitants of heaven, leading them to anticipate the final day with
intense interest, as the time when they will be invested, like those
honored saints, with all the capacities of their completed nature, which
nature, while the body lies buried, is in a dissevered state. If Paul,
when in heaven, saw and felt the power of this expectation in the minds
of glorified saints, no wonder that the resurrection of the body seemed
to him, ever after, to be the crown of Christian expectation and hope.

More than all, he had seen the man Christ Jesus, in his glorified body;
who on earth had said, "I am the resurrection and the life"--himself an
illustration of it, whom alone the grave has yielded up to die no more.
He is, therefore, to saints in heaven, a far more interesting object
than Enoch and Elijah, who never died. "For now is Christ risen from the
dead, and is become the first fruits of them that slept." This sight, of
Christ in heaven, must have had unutterable interest for Paul, from the
assurance that Christ will "change our vile body, that it may be
fashioned like unto his glorious body;" for "we know that when he shall
appear," Paul himself tells us, "we shall be like him; for we shall see
him as he is." This knowledge, obtained in the heavenly world, may have
led the apostle to think of the resurrection as the crown of all his
expectations and hopes.

It is noticeable that the writers of the New Testament, and Jesus
himself, refer chiefly to the resurrection and the last day as sources
of comfort, and also of warning. Now this is made a principal ground of
belief, with many, that there is either no consciousness between death
and the resurrection; or, that none have gone to heaven, nor to hell,
but to intermediate places, seeing that final rewards and punishments
are, in so many instances, wholly predicated of the last day.

But those who believe that the souls of the righteous are, at their
death, made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory, see
proof, in all this prominence which is given to the last day, and to the
resurrection, that the sacred writers regarded the resurrection and
final judgment as the great consummation, towards which souls, in heaven
and in hell, would be looking forward with intense expectation and
interest; that neither will the joys of heaven nor the pains of hell be
complete, till the account of our whole influence upon the world,
extending to the end of time, is made up, and the body is added to the
soul. When Paul comforts the mourners of Thessalonica, he bids them to
"sorrow not as they that have no hope; for," (and now he does not speak
of heaven, and of souls being already there, as the source of
consolation, but) "if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so
them, also, that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him;" and he
proceeds to speak of the resurrection,--not of the speedy reunion of
friends after death, but of the departed as coming with Christ at the
last day. This, instead of being an argument against the immediate
departure of souls to heaven, arises from the desire to employ the
strongest possible proof that the pious dead are not only safe, but are
greatly honored. "Resurrection" was an abounding subject of thought,
argument, and illustration in those days; the state of the dead between
death and the last day, is comparatively disregarded by the apostles,
while their minds were full of the great question of the age--the
Resurrection. This fullness of thought and constant occupation of mind
about the resurrection, as the cardinal doctrine of Christian hope,
explains the apparent belief of the apostles, in some passages, that the
final day was near. This the apostle Paul expressly denies, in the
second chapter of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians. But a greater
event, looked at in the same line of vision with an intermediate and
smaller object, will, of course, have the prominent place in our
thoughts. The less will be held subordinate to the greater; perhaps we
shall seem to underrate the less, in our exalted conceptions of that
which rises beyond and above. We shall see, as we proceed, why the
expectation of the last day seemed to occupy the thoughts of apostles as
the paramount object of expectation.

It is perfectly obvious that, at the resurrection, the bodies of the
just will be endued with wonderful susceptibilities and powers. This is
rendered certain by the great mystery of godliness,--God manifest in the
flesh. The greatest honor which could be conferred upon our nature, and
the greatest testimony to its intrinsic dignity, and to its being, in
its unfallen state, in the image of God, is bestowed upon it by the
incarnation of the Word. True, there was a necessity that the Redeemer
should be made like unto us, however inferior human nature might be in
the scale of creation; still, unless there had been such intrinsic
dignity and excellence in our sinless nature, as to make it compatible
for the second Person in the Godhead to be united with it, we cannot
suppose that this union would have been permanent; it would have
fulfilled a temporary purpose, and then have ceased.

Perhaps we slightly err if we think of Christ's assumption of human
nature as, in any respect, an incongruous act of humiliation. For man
was made in the image of God; so that when Christ was made flesh,
without sin, he took upon himself that which, in some sense, was
congruous with his divine nature. His humiliation consisted, in part, in
his doing this; but more especially in his doing this for such a
purpose--for sinners; "in his being born, and that in a low condition,
made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of
God, and the cursed death of the cross, in being buried and continuing
under the power of death for a time." Had there been no inherent
congruity between our nature and the divine, the human nature of
Christ, having accomplished its purpose of suffering and death, would
have been left in the grave. "But now is Christ risen from the dead;"
the body and the human soul, which were disunited when he hung upon the
cross, now constitute the same man, Christ Jesus. "The only Redeemer of
God's elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God,
became man, and so was, and continues to be, God and man, in two
distinct natures and one person, forever." The latter part of this
answer of the Assembly's Shorter Catechism is thus substantiated by the
New Testament: "When he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall
see him as he is." In other words, he will be, when he appears, that
which he now is--will remain the same until his second coming. After
that, he will remain as he was before: "Jesus Christ, the same
yesterday, to-day, and forever." He is represented as holding an eternal
relation to the redeemed in his glorified nature: "The Lamb which is in
the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto
living fountains of waters." We might, indeed, suppose that the man
Christ Jesus would have an eternal recompense for his sufferings and
death in an everlasting union with the Godhead; nor can any one think,
with satisfaction, of a severance between his two natures, and of a
consequent humiliation, or deposition, of that human nature, which, at
the great day, will, for so long a time, have sustained such a
connection with the divine nature. For our present purpose, however,
which is to show the intrinsic dignity of the human nature, it would be
enough that it has been in such connection with the Godhead, and has
passed through such scenes, and sustained such vast responsibilities.
This is sufficient to prove that human nature is intrinsically capable
and great; and, indeed, it reveals to us as nothing else does, the real
dignity of our nature. Some, who have rejected the doctrine of Christ's
two natures, have written much and eloquently with regard to man's
greatness in creation. They, however, missed the very thing which
chiefly proves it; for all who believe in the Deity of Christ have a
proof and illustration of this great theme which trancend all others.

This idea, of future capability and exaltation for human nature, as
proved by the Saviour's incarnation, is brought to view in the second
chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews. The second Psalm is there quoted
as speaking of man: "Thou hast put all things under his feet." "But
now," the apostle says, "we see not yet all things put under him;" man,
as a race, has not reached his full destiny of glory and honor; but, in
the person of Christ, human nature has taken possession of its future
inheritance. We see not yet all things put under man, as a race; but "we
see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering
of death, crowned with glory and honor;"--a sign and pledge of our
destiny.

To the mind of Paul, the sight, in heaven, of what he was to become, set
forth by the glorified person of the Son of God, his Saviour and
infinite Friend, no doubt made the resumption of the body, at the last
day, the most desirable experience of which it was possible for him to
conceive. Paradise, with all its social pleasures, gates of pearl,
streets of gold, every thing, in short, external to him, must have
seemed, to the apostle, not worthy to be compared with the glory which
was to be revealed in him. An intelligent man is far more interested in
his own personal endowments, than in the accidental circumstances of his
situation. Every one, who is not degraded in his feelings, would prefer
to be enriched with natural, moral, and intellectual powers, rather than
be the richest of men, or an hereditary monarch, with inferior talents
and worth. To such a man as Paul, the possession of his complete,
glorified nature, at the resurrection, must, for this reason, have
seemed far better than all the pleasures or honors of the heavenly
world. That completed nature would constitute him a being wholly
perfected, invest him with a likeness to the Son of God, bring him into
still nearer union with that adorable Redeemer, who, Paul says, loved
him and gave himself for him, and for whom, he says, he had suffered the
loss of all things. The sight of the man Christ Jesus wearing Paul's
nature in a glorified state, no doubt lived and glowed in his memory
after his return to earth, and made him think of the resurrection as the
event, in his personal history, to which every thing else was
subordinate. He shows the interest which he felt in this event, when,
writing to the Romans, he says, "And not only they,"--that is, "the
creatures," or creation,--"but ourselves, also, which have the first
fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting
for the adoption, to wit, the redemption, of our body." In his address,
at Jerusalem, before his accusers and the people, he cried out, "Of the
hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question." It was
uniformly a prominent topic of his thoughts.

It is by no means impossible, nor improbable, judging from analogy, that
there may be, in the human soul, faculties which are slumbering, until
a glorified body assists in their development. Persons born blind have
the dormant faculty of seeing; the gift of the eye would bring it into
exercise. So of the other senses, and their related mental faculties.
With a glorified body, then, truly it doth not yet appear what we shall
be; but the thought itself is rapture, that our souls at present may be
as disproportioned to their future expansion, as the acorn is to the oak
of a century's growth, which is infolded now, and dormant, in the seed.

The addition of a body to the glorified spirit will, therefore, be a
help, and not an encumbrance. For we are not to suppose that the soul,
after having been for centuries in a state superior to its present
condition, would retrograde, in returning to the body. A common idea
respecting a body is, that it is necessarily a clog. True, by reason of
sin and its effects, it is now a "vile body;" and Paul speaks of it as
"the body of this death." But, even while we are in this world, a body
is an indispensable help to the soul. The disembodied spirit, probably,
is not capable of sustaining a full, active relation to a world of
matter; a material form is necessary to make its powers serviceable
here. This being so, there is certainly reason, from analogy, to suppose
that the addition of a spiritual body to the glorified soul will not
necessarily work any deterioration to the spirit. At all events, we
cannot suppose that the bliss of heaven will be suffered to diminish, by
remanding the emancipated spirit into connection with any thing which
will subtract from the state to which it will have arrived. There is a
law of progress in the divine government, by which the intelligent
universe will be forever advancing. We are to be changed "from glory to
glory;" not from a greater glory to a less, but into the same image with
Christ.

It is the opinion of some that every created being has a corporeal part,
and that God alone is perfectly a spirit. However this may be, it is
evident that the souls of believers after death, though advanced far
beyond their present earthly condition, and though they are "with
Christ," and though to die is gain, and though they are in the heaven of
heavens with Christ, (which is where the penitent thief went, and where
Paul had his revelation, and where Christ went when he died;--for Paul
uses the words "third heavens," and "Paradise," interchangeably,) are,
nevertheless, incomplete as to their natures, "waiting for the adoption,
to wit, the redemption of our body." Where in the Bible are we led to
suppose that they are detained in an inferior region, or that there are,
at most, only two redeemed human beings now in "heaven," viz., Enoch and
Elijah, or probably not even they? But a corporeal part, we may suppose,
is necessary to the fullest participation in the employments and
enjoyments of the spiritual world. Light requires atmosphere to modify
it for the human eye, which otherwise could not endure its brightness.
So it may be that a corporeal part is necessary to modify many of the
things which are unseen and eternal, that they may be apprehended by the
soul. Let no one say that matter must obstruct or dim the senses of the
soul; that a body must act as a veil to the spirit, and shut out much
knowledge. It is not so here. Matter helps us in the acquisition of
knowledge, as, for example, glass in optical instruments. The telescope,
with its lenses, gives the eye vast compass; the microscope gives it a
power, equally wonderful, of minute vision. True, in these cases it is
matter helping matter--glass assisting the eye; the analogy is not
perfect between this and the aid which the spiritual body may afford the
soul. But, if we remember that there is to be progression in the powers
and faculties of our nature, and that if a body is added to the
glorified spirit, it must be to assist it, to put it forward in its
acquisitions and enjoyments, we cannot resist the belief that the
addition of the new body to the soul will be a vast accession of power
and capability. If the eye and the mind can receive such aid from the
telescope here, who knows that the eye of the glorified body may not be
itself a telescope, increasing in its capability with the progress of
its being.

We may have some view of what the glorified body must necessarily be, in
thinking of it as a fit companion to the glorified spirit. The soul
having been in heaven for ages, and having grown in all spiritual
excellence, the body, to be a help to such a spirit, to be an occasion
of joy, and not of regret, must, of course, be in advance of our present
corporeal nature. What must the body of Isaiah, and of David, be, at the
resurrection, to correspond with the vast powers and attainments of
those glorified spirits? We could not believe, certainly we could not
see, how these bodies of ours could be made capable of such union, were
it not that, in the man Christ Jesus, we see our corporeal nature
capable of such transformation as to make it compatible for his human
mind, and indwelling Deity, to receive it into their ineffable union.

All this being so, we may, in some measure, conceive of the feelings
with which the souls in heaven anticipate the resurrection; and we cease
to wonder why Paul speaks of his resurrection as the great object of his
desire--not merely to be in heaven, but, being in heaven, with Christ,
to be in possession of a completed nature, like Christ's.

From the grave where it was sown in corruption, it will come forth in
incorruption; sown in dishonor, it will be raised in glory; sown in
weakness, it will be raised in power; sown a natural body, it will be
raised a spiritual body. It was "bare grain" when it fell into the
earth; but the corn, with its stalk, and leaves, and the curious ear,
with its silk, and its wrappings, the multiplication of the "bare grain"
into such a product, are an illustration of the apostle's words,--"Thou
sowest not that body that shall be;" hence, he argues, say not,
incredulously, "How are the dead raised, and with what body do they
come?" God giveth the grain a body as it hath pleased him; he can do
the same with regard to that part of man's nature which is committed for
a while to the earth. Let not the natural difficulties connected with
this subject make us sceptical. There are no more difficulties connected
with a grave than with a grape vine. Those distant twigs, on that dry
vine, begin to bud and blossom; grapes form upon them; it is filled with
clusters. Is there any thing in the resurrection more strange than this?
Twice, inspiration says to a man, "Thou fool!"--once, to a godless, rich
man, and, once, to him who is sceptical about the resurrection of the
body.

When the glorified spirit and the glorified body meet, the moment when
the investiture of the soul with its spiritual form takes place, and the
forcible divorce of the soul and body is terminated by new, strange
nuptials, there must be an experience which now defies all power of
imagination. We may have known, in this world, all the thrilling
experiences of which our natures here are capable; we shall also have
seen and felt what it is to awake in heaven, satisfied with Christ's
likeness; and all the new-born joys of heavenly sensations will have
seemed to leave us nothing to be experienced which can bring a new
rapture to the heart; yet when the body is raised, and the triumphant
spirit comes to put it on afresh, it will be an addition to all the past
joys of the heavenly state. As we look on one another, and see, in each
other's beauty and glory, an image of our own; as we remember how we
visited the graves of loved ones, and what thoughts and feelings we had
there, and then see those graves yielding forms like Christ's; as we see
the Saviour's person mirrored in ours on every side, and behold the
living changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, there will be an
exceeding great joy, such, perhaps, as the universe had never before
known. But to each of us the most perfect joy will be his own
consciousness, existence being then a rapture such as we never
experienced. Then the bird is winged, the jewel is set in gold, the
flower blooms, the harp receives all her strings, the heir is crowned.
No wonder that Paul said, looking through and beyond heaven, "If by any
means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead."

Perhaps we now think of the last day with dread, as a day of
consternation. It is not always that we can think of the heavens on
fire, the earth dissolved, the dead arising, and the judgment
proceeding, without some feeling of dismay. But in heaven, we shall long
have anticipated that day as the day of our complete triumph. The grave
will, till that time, have imprisoned one part of our nature. The curse
of the law will not have passed away entirely, and in every respect,
till all which belongs to us is redeemed from every natural, as well as
moral, consequence of sin. It will be an expectation of unmingled joy to
see this accomplished. The approach of the day will fill us with more
pleasure than the arrival of any other wished-for moment. We shall come
with Christ to judgment. "Them that sleep in Jesus will God bring with
him." We shall have a part in the glory of Christ, and be associated
with him; for, "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?"
"Know ye not that we shall judge angels?" What curious interest there
will be to receive back from the dust of the earth the dishonored,
corrupted, mouldered, wasted, perished body. In the Saviour, even, we
shall not have seen all the wonders of the resurrection from the dead;
for, "He whom God raised saw no corruption;" but we shall be raised from
corruption. To be clothed upon with that house which is from heaven, to
be a completed, perfected human being, will be, up to that time, the
greatest possible manifestation to us of divine wisdom and power.

The new body will bring with it sources of enjoyment which will be a
vast addition to the previous happiness of heaven. There will be perfect
satisfaction in every one with his own body--no consciousness of
defects, of deformity, of weakness. Comparisons of ourselves with others
will not excite dissatisfaction and envy; every one will be perfect of
his kind, and will differ in some things from every other, and will be
an object of love and admiration with all. We are astonished here with
the intellectual, oratorical, vocal powers of others, with their
knowledge, their talent, their skill; but there we shall no doubt be
filled also with astonishment at our own powers and acquisitions, and
thus we shall be more capable of appreciating and enjoying the
endowments of others. God is pleased to raise up one and another, from
time to time, with great powers to charm their fellow-creatures; and
thus he would lure us on to heaven, teaching us how much we can enjoy,
and how much we shall lose if we are not saved. Those who are deprived
of very many intellectual and social pleasures here, which they could
appreciate as well as their more favored friends, will soon have it made
up to them. By the likeness of their glorified nature to the human
nature of Christ, they are to be intimately associated with him forever.
This, of itself, is an assurance and pledge, that their heavenly
happiness will not be measured by their relative inferiority to their
brethren in this world. To a benevolent mind it is a great joy to think
of good people, who are deprived, in this world, of education and
culture, entering upon a career of boundless knowledge, rising to the
highest pitch of mental development, and enjoying it all the more for
their former disadvantages in their probationary state. "And, behold,
there are last which shall be first." Distinctions made here by
knowledge will be transient, like gifts of prophecy, and tongues; for it
is in this sense that it is said, "whether there be knowledge, it shall
vanish away." And when we look upon those dear children of God who have
long suffered under bodily deformity, and "have borne, and have had
patience, and have not fainted," we love to think of their glorified
bodies, and of that rich zest in the possession of them which will be
both the natural consequence, and the gracious reward, of their
patience; nay, we love to think that some special, personal beauty, some
peculiar grace and glory, may be given them by Him who so delights in
compensatory acts in nature, in providence, and in grace.

Was it not the object of the transfiguration, in part, to give the human
soul of Christ such an idea of his future glory in heaven, as to
strengthen him for his agony and death? Yes; for the heavenly visitants
"spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem." That
anticipation of his glorified nature was a part of "the joy set before
him." Let Christ on Tabor, and faith, do for us, with regard to present
bodily sorrows and sufferings, that which the transfiguration did for
Jesus in the days of his humiliation. "Who shall change our vile body,
that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the
working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself."

Through the long interval of death and the separate state, the
anticipation of the last day and of the resurrection will, no doubt,
be to the wicked a predominant source of terror. While the joyful
anticipations of it, in heaven, will be like the advancing steps of
morning, when there begin to be signs, in the tabernacle for the sun,
of that bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and of that strong man
rejoicing to run a race, and every thing will be astir with the notes
of preparation for that day, for which all other days were made, the
approach of it will be, to the lost, a deepening gloom, its arrival the
settling down of interminable night. Instead of entering into their
bodies with transport, as the righteous do, they will each be like a
prisoner removed from one jail to another with new bars and bolts. If
it be not unreasonable to suppose that the appearance of the body will
conform to the character, and if the bodies of Isaiah, and Paul, and
John must be seraphic, to correspond with their experience and
attainments, what must the bodies of the wicked be! They will have spent
centuries in sinning, and suffering, debased in every part, the image of
God supplanted by the image of him whose service they preferred to that
of a holy God and Saviour. What a moment will that be, when the sinner's
grave is opened by the last trumpet, and a hideous form rises to receive
a frantic spirit! "The harvest is the end of the world, and the reapers
are the angels." "As, therefore, the tares are gathered and burned in
the fire, so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall
send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all
things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into
a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." "And
many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to
everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." There
will be separations at the graves of those who lay side by side in
death; many a tomb will yield up subjects both for heaven and for hell;
the differences in character, between the regenerate and unregenerate,
will there be made conspicuous in the correspondence of the risen body
to the soul, according as the soul shall have arrived at the grave from
a state of joy or of woe. Arrests will be made, there will be forcible
detentions, overpowering strength, disregard of entreaties, remorseless
rendings asunder of families, unclasping of embraces, and an
indiscriminate mixture of all classes among the wicked, indicated by the
command, "Bind ye the tares together, in bundles, to be burned." Nor
will this be worse for holy angels to witness, than it was to see those
sinners turn their backs on the Lord's supper, year after year. They
could treat their Saviour's dying agonies, and his blood, with perfect
neglect and contempt, through their love of the world and sin; now they
eat the fruit of their own way, and are filled with their own devices.
Our treatment of the Saviour will return upon our own heads. What a
change will be made in the ideas which many sentimentalists had of holy
angels, when they see them executing the terrible orders of their King!
and what an illustration it will give of the severity of justice,--the
rigors of its execution being compatible with the pure benevolence of
holy angels, because of God. We are constantly admonished that the
punishment of the wicked will be a great part of the proceedings on that
day. It is called "the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men."
"Behold, the Lord cometh, with ten thousands of his saints, to execute
judgment."

       *       *       *       *       *

All this serves to invest the death of a dear Christian friend, in our
thoughts, with inexpressible peace and comfort. He, with his Redeemer,
can say, "My flesh, also, shall rest in hope." If we are confident that
a friend is gone to be with Christ, death is, even now, swallowed up of
life; and now the thought of what the soul is to inherit, both before
and after the resurrection, and its contrast with the experience of the
lost, should make us joyful in tribulation. True, we cannot, by any
artifice or illusion, make death itself cease to be a curse. Full of
beauty and consolation as it may be,--nay, we will call it
triumphant,--yet nothing saddens the mind, for the time, more than the
sight of true beauty. In heaven things beautiful will not make us sad;
nor will the remembrance of a past joy, which so inevitably has that
effect upon us here. We are beholding a sunset. Day is flinging up all
its treasures, as though it were breaking to pieces its pavilion forever
and scattering the fragments; and now, when all seemed past, one more
flood of glory streams over the scene, but only for a moment; then comes
a last touch of pathos, here and there, like a more distant farewell, a
whispered good night. Have tears never come unbidden, do we never feel
sad, at such a time? Is not the whole of life, past, present, and to
come, then tinged with sombre hues? and all because the dying day
expires with such beauty and peace. Not so when a storm suddenly brings
in night upon us. Then we are nerved and braced; we hear no minor key in
the voice of the departing day. It is perfectly natural, therefore, to
weep over our dead, even when every thing in their departure is
consolatory and beautiful. It is interesting to observe that it was even
when he was on his way to raise the dead body of his friend, and thus to
comfort the weeping sisters, that "Jesus wept."

Let us more and more love the Christian's grave. Angels love it. Two of
them sat in the tomb where the body of Jesus had lain--they loosed the
napkin that was about his head, and "wrapped" it "together in a place by
itself;" and when Jesus had left the place, instead of following him,
they lingered, to comfort the weeping friends on their arrival at the
sepulchre. Can it be Michael, guardian of the dead Moses and his grave,
on "the great stone" which has been rolled "from the door of the
sepulchre"? Is he thinking how he will one day hear the command, "Take
ye away the stone" which covers all who sleep in Jesus? As the cross is
hallowed by the death of the Son of God upon it, the grave is hallowed
for the believer through the Saviour's burial. There are three places
which must possess intense interest for a glorified friend. One is his
home; another is his seat in the house of God; and another is his grave.
Let us cherish it. We do well to visit such a spot. Sometimes
approaching it with sadness and fear, we go away with surprising peace;
looking back for a last view of the stone, and feeling towards the spot
as we do when we are leaving little children in the dark for the night,
unutterable love, we find, has cast out fear. Those graves are treasures
which heaven has made sure, "sealing the stone, and setting a watch." Of
those who still live, we are not certain that, in the providence of God,
they will henceforth be an unmingled source of comfort; but they who are
in those graves are garnered fruits, are finished works, are each like
the rod of Aaron laid up in the ark, which "bloomed blossoms and yielded
almonds." All else which is dear to us on earth may seem changeful, or
changed; the property may have disappeared, the home may have been
broken tip, the plighted faith and love may have been recalled; the
whole condition of life may have been altered: but we visit that burial
spot, and there is permanence; that fast-anchored isle has defied the
surges and roaring currents; the grave seems beautifully constant; it
has not betrayed our confidence; it is not weary of its precious charge;
it has kindly staid behind to permit and encourage our griefs when all
else may have fled. The winter's snows have fallen, the tempests have
beaten, there; and now, this April or May morning, it is as steadfast
and quiet as when the slumber there began.

Great honor is paid to the dead in giving them precedence to the living
at the last day. "The dead in Christ shall rise first," that is, before
the living are changed;--they shall rise, and after that, in a moment,
in a twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet, the living will be
transformed; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised
incorruptible, and we shall be changed. This is said in order to comfort
those who mourn the death of Christian friends,--intimating such care on
the part of their Redeemer, that the apostle is directed to tell us "by
the word of the Lord, that we which are alive, and remain to the coming
of the Lord, shall not" have precedence of "them that are asleep." It is
declared that the change of the living will be effected "in a moment, in
the twinkling of an eye." This must be a matter of pure revelation; for
it could not have been foretold, from any apparent probabilities,
whether it would happen instantaneously or by degrees. It is suited to
impress the mind with the power and majesty of Christ, inasmuch as this
is to be one of the great acts connected with his second coming, and as
really an exercise of his omnipotence as the raising of the dead. For he
is "Lord both of the dead and of the living."

"And the sea shall give up the dead that are in it." Many a form of a
believer is waiting there for the redemption of the body. Nor has it
escaped the eye of the great archangel. Wrapped in its rude shroud, or
decomposed and scattered, or in whatever way seemingly annihilated,
personal identity still attaches to it, and the all-seeing eye watches
every thing which is essential to that identity, as easily as though the
body were in the grave with kindred dust. That the power of God in the
resurrection may be fully illustrated, and that some may be preeminent
witnesses in their own persons of that mighty power, perhaps it will
appear that they were permitted, for that purpose, to be devoured, or to
dissolve and to waste away in the sea. If they who came out of great
tribulation are arrayed in white robes among the righteous, we may look
for some special sign of glory and joy in those who receive their
bodies, not from the sheltering grave, but from the sea, and from the
very frame of nature, into which their bodily organization will, in one
way and another, have been incorporated. O the unspeakable wonders and
raptures connected with the resurrection, both as it relates to our own
experience, and to the illustrations which the resurrection will afford,
of the divine wisdom and power. No wonder, we say, that Paul esteemed
it the height of Christian privilege, that he, as a redeemed human
being, "might attain unto the resurrection of the dead."

It is an innocent fancy, if it be not worthy of a better name, that the
great attention which has been given of late years to new cemeteries,
now in such contrast to the old graveyards, whose reckless disorder so
perfectly expressed abandonment to sorrow and unresisting surrender to
the last enemy, is a symptomatic token of growing faith in the great,
general heart of the Christianized part of the race, with regard to that
consummation of all things, the resurrection of the dead.

As at sea there is, within certain degrees of latitude and longitude, an
uphill and a downhill, made by the convexity of the globe, we, perhaps,
may have reached the meridian of the great voyage, and may have begun to
feel the inclination which will set us forward more swiftly to the end.
The power of the great consummation will be waxing stronger and
stronger. Men are looking to the cemeteries as places where great
treasures went down, or were abandoned, and they begin to think that
some great restoration awaits them. These costly and beautiful
cemeteries, which men are preparing, are like Hiram's contributions to
the building of the temple; they foretell some great thing; they have a
look not only of expectation, but of design, not merely of faith, but of
hope. With a truly liberal regard to the decoration of those burial
places with costly works of general interest, in the department of art,
we shall do well to make provision, by statute, for the perpetual repair
and preservation of every enclosure, and every grave, the whole body
corporate thus pledging itself, as far as possible, to each incumbent,
that his last resting place shall be the care of the perpetuated
fraternity to the end of time.

And when the prophecies are accomplished, and the stone cut out of the
mountain without hands has filled the earth, and the apostasy which is
to follow the general prevalence of religion, has deluged the world
with blood, and Satan, loosed a little season, is triumphing in his
maddened career, and the graves are full, and the souls under the altar,
with their importunate cry, can no longer wait for the avenging
arm,--then shall be seen the sign of the Son of man coming in the clouds
of heaven, with power and great glory.

As we commit a Christian friend to the earth, and as we visit his
resting place, let us think that now, the anticipation of the rising
from the dead is, to him, the great object of personal expectation and
hope. The time is not far distant, when, in heaven, we, in like manner,
shall be filled with that expectation, as we look down upon the places
where our bodies await the signal of the resurrection.

Let not the image of our friends, as sick and in pain, occupy our
thoughts. "For the former things are passed away." Their language, as
they call back to us, is, "As dying, and behold, we live."

We who have children and friends that sleep in Jesus, and who expect
ourselves to be, with them, and with one another, children of the
resurrection, will soon know each other in the presence of Christ. We
shall have become reunited in the presence of each other to our loved
and lost ones. The great question then will be, How did we fulfil God's
special and benevolent designs in our trials? If we revisit scenes of
deep affliction where death and the grave usurped their dread power over
us for a season, we shall remember our misery as waters that pass away.
In hope of this, we will patiently and joyfully labor and suffer. "The
night is far spent; the day is at hand."

       *       *       *       *       *

On a pleasant morning in April, three months from the time of her
decease, the mortal part of the dear child whose name gives this book
its title, was removed from its temporary resting place in the city, to
her grave in the family cemetery. As the hands of her father, which
baptized her, laid her to rest in her sweet and peaceful bed, and the
simple stone, with her chosen "lilies of the valley and rose buds"
carved on it, was set up,--the gift of one whose consanguinity was made
by him the delicate ground of claim to do this touching and abiding act
of love,--it seemed as though, in some sense, there had already been
brought to pass the saying which is written, "Death is swallowed up in
victory."

But in the night, a gentle April shower fell; and as the thoughts were
carried by it, spellbound, from the chamber where she was born, to her
newly-made grave,--that night being the first of her sleeping there,--it
seemed very plain that, though Death had been conquered, the Grave still
kept possession of the field.--Christ "will be thy destruction," O
Grave, as he has been "thy plagues," O Death! The early rain seemed to
have made good haste in visiting the fresh mound and the flower seeds
already placed there, conspiring with them to cover the grave speedily
with emblems of the resurrection, as though, with confident boast and
exultation, they would, beforehand, say, "Where is thy victory?" Simple
thoughts and fancies, which we hardly dare utter, have wonderful power,
in great sorrows, to change the whole current of the feelings; for while
that soft shower was heard, falling on the grave, it seemed as if a
heavenly watcher was in care of the place; and so, leaving them
together, it was easy and pleasant to fall asleep.

       *       *       *       *       *

And now, seeing that there is not one experience in this volume which is
not, or may not be, enjoyed, and surpassed, by every dying saint, and by
surviving friends, and as the narrative is thus saved from all just
thought either of ostentation, or of setting forth a discouraging
standard of experience, may the book find protection from those who,
knowing the innocent weaknesses, and, at the same time, the blessedness,
of those who mourn, will kindly appreciate the motives with which it is
written. For more than a year the narrative has been laid by, from
indefinable reluctance at the thought of publication. But this
affliction, which was, at first, like the bulb of the hyacinth with its
white, pendulous roots in water,--those symbols of hope and pledges of
growth,--has now bloomed and become fragrant with such comforts and
consolations, that we venture to set the plant in our window, perchance
it may meet the eye of one and another as they walk and are sad. Perhaps
it may, here and there, win love and praise for Jesus. "He hath done all
things well."





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