I am lucky enough to have in my personal library a book entitled ‘The Mourner’s Friend or Sighs of Sympathy For Those Who Sorrow’. It is a collection of prose and verse compiled to give comfort to the grieving. Edited by J.B. Syme, published in 1852 by S.A. Howland in Worcester, Mass, USA; its contents are by American and European authors and some surprising famous names. My copy of the book has some water damage, ageing paper, and precarious binding, so before it deteriorates my project to preserve the words of the authors will find its way here on the MOLAM blog.
Reverend John Newland Maffit was born in Ireland 1795. He emigrated to the United States in 1819 and became an increasingly successful preacher establishing the Western Methodist or Christian Advocate Church in 1833. He rose to national recognition with political influence. It is reported that he was a charismatic orator, with an engaging and dramatic flair; from his evocative, powerful prose below, I can believe this. His son of the same name was a famous Confederate Naval Officer in the American Civil War.
Change of Worlds.
“Though I walk through the gloomy vale,
Where death and all its terrors are,
My heart and hope shall never fail,
For God my shepherd’s with me there.”
THE shafts of death fall thick around us, and this charming world, like the field of strife, is strewn with the dead and dying. The mourners go about the street ; they follow the young, the lovely, the beautiful, the good, to their long home, — the silent grave. The mournful knell chimes to their measured pace, and mingles its sepulchral tone with the burst of sorrow.
But in all the circumstances of woe, attendant on the departure of those we love from the busy scenes of life, there is to the Christian much consolation, when he feels assured that they had witnessed a good confession. Seeing they have escaped these storms and billows of life’s tempestuous sea, and conscious that they are safe in the port of endless bliss, where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are forever at rest, we feel resigned, — knowing that our loss is their infinite gain. Indeed, we rejoice, rather than mourn ; for truly our separation will be a very short one, and our meeting with happy connections, O how joyful ! Then shall we breathe our native air, and taste the fruit of that delightful clime where all is fertile, rich, and fragrant.
Among the many evidences of the power of Christianity, nothing can be more convincing than the last hours of a dying saint who bears a bright testimony to the truth of its doctrines. What a sublime scene ! Behold him on the margin of a river, wrapped about with the garments of salvation, and preparing to step into its cold waters. He enters, singing as he goes. The ministering angels pilot him over. He gains the opposite shore. Sister spirits welcome him home. He joins the celestial company. He mounts, he flies, he soars. He reaches his eternal home. He is forever at rest.