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.
STILL and silent as the wheels of nature roll on from age to age, yet a constant succession of changes marks everything earthly. Empires rise and fall ; nations flourish and decay ; proud cities, with their lofty walls and architectural grandeur, rise up under the handiwork of man, and then crumble into ruins. Generations of men appear and disappear from the stage of mortal life, and are seen no more. Thus everything on earth, all that is around us, is subject to change. Day succeeds the night, –joy gives place to sorrow, –health to sickness : man lives, –anon, he dies.
All this in respect to the outward, the mortal, that which pertains to the world in which we live. Particles of matter will be changed. These living, breathing bodies, must decay. Their original element is dust ; to earth they are at length consigned. And this we call death ! Blessed be God, the Christian never tastes of death ; he is, as it were, translated to the throne of God ! not in a chariot of fire ; not by a visible convoy of seraphic beings ; a cloud may not received him from our sight ; yet he as truly ascended, as though, on cherub wings, he had cleft mid air, while we were gazing “steadfastly toward heaven.” But do we in reality gaze toward heaven like the primitive disciples who witnessed the ascent of their Master ? Do we not rather look down to the earth for our friend ? We garland his grave, and inscribe on the tombstone, “Here lies.” Need we the voice of an angle to sound in our ears, “He is not here ; he is risen ?” You may “behold the place where they laid him ; ” where his mortal form doth slumber. You may weep over that silent sepulchre ; but your friend is not there. He hat joined the company of the redeemed. He is associated with ” the spirits of just men made perfect,” Oh, weep not for him, but ‘Weep for yourselves and your children.” He is safe, he is at home ; and it is a happy home ! far, far exceeding the happiest home on earth ! There is no sin there, –nothing but goodness ; no suffering there, –nothing buy joy ; no enemies there, –all are friends ; no death there, –but life everlasting.
The soul is immortal ! why need we fear the grave ? why need we fear what men call death ? it is but the summons for our departure to a better world. Why need we dread the thought ? why need we conjure up imaginary terrors, and enrobe the hours of our exit in vestments of woe ? Why need we grieve for others ? Why need we mourn for ourselves ? It is our Father’s good pleasure to release the soul from its earthly tenement ? Ought we to complain ? We desire the best good for our friends, yet would withhold from them the joys of heaven ? Jesus welcomes them. He says to their spirits, “Come up hither.” Are we desirous they should still remain upon earth ? If we are their true friends, ought we not rather to rejoice at their departure ? Great, indeed, is our loss, but greater still is their gain. God hath removed them to a holier company. to a brighter land. Let us rejoice at their happy release from the sins and sufferings of this mortal sphere. If it were not his will that they should be taken hence, then it would be no sin to repine. But we know that he hath called them, and that they have been obedient to that call. To them the words of Jesus are verified, “Where I am, there shall y be also.” Oh, happy state ! an immortal home ! They are “ever with the Lord.”
The soul is immortal ! all else will perish. This alone shall endure forever, — forever! Here our life is begun, but here it will not end. Life has begun, –never will it cease ! The body dies, —we ever live ! The future will be to us a continuation of the present, as the present is a continuation of the present, as the present is a continuation of the past ; all to be swallowed up in eternity. In view, then, of our immortal destiny, let us ask ourselves the questions, “What manner of persons ought we to be ? ” Let the answer be a practical one, ” Let us live while we live,” that our exit from this world may prove peaceful and happy ; that heaven may be the home of our immortal spirits, and saints our everlasting companions.