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 including some surprisingly 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.
RESIGNATION is a virtue, the need of which is felt alike by all ; there is some period in the history of each individual, when the crushed and fainting spirit requires its sustaining strength. No condition of life is exempt from this necessity ; the monarch in his gilded palace, and the peasant in his lonely hut, alike experience the hour, when resignation alone can soothe the anguish of a wounded heart. There is none whose stream of life flows so smoothly, that its placid surface is not sometimes troubled by the storms of sorrow ; there is none, whose sky is always so bright that it is not sometimes overcast by clouds of adversity, from whose dark bosom are shot the thunderbolts that crush the fondest hopes, and the lightnings that blast the fairest idols of the heart. Man’s inheritance of earthly joys, is like an enchanted island in the midst of a rushing stream ; at firs, it expands before the eye, in beauty, – wide in extent, and all blooming with flowers and verdure ; but, continually washed away by the impetuous tide, he beholds it diminishing year after year ; ever is he called to mourn some favorite flower, some cherished plant, borne away upon the bosom of the stream, never to return ; until he stands alone on but a fragment of that once fair domain ; and at last yields himself to the fatal torrent, which bears him on to the ocean of eternity. The pathway of life is strown with the wrecks of time, – with blighted hopes, with shattered fortunes, and disappointed and crushed affections, – with the ruins of all that the heart has prized on earth !
It is not the philosophy of the stoic, that can impart to the soul that calm submission under the ills of life which it requires. It can only teach to conceal, not alleviate the anguish that preys within ; like the Indian hero, when lashed to the martyr-stake, the victim of unheard-of tortures ; to preserve a countenance of inflexible repose, while every nerve is wrung with agony. Not the affected indifference of the stoic, is the resignation which Christianity inspires ; nor, like that, is it the result of human pride, and a sullen and indomitable will, – it is the offspring of trust in God. It is the result of a calm conviction, that there is a God of mercy and goodness who reigns above ; and in his infinite benevolence controls all the events of earth and time ; that the rod that smites is that of a parent, and not of a ruthless tyrant ; that the “Destiny which shapes our ends,” shapes them wisely and benevolently.
Inspired by this lofty faith, the humblest child of God bears meekly, and with a cheerful and hopeful spirit, all the dispensations, however afflictive, of an all-wise and gracious Providence. Amid the darkest night of sorrow, he descries, on the horizon’s verge, the gilded dawn of a happier day ; to his view, through the blackest cloud of adversity, glances the sunlight of divine favor ; and on their portentous gloom ever smiles the rainbow of hope.