EARTH’S CHANGES.

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. 

Earth’s Changes.

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.

 

The First Violet.

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. 

The First Violet.

SPRING has come, dear mother!
I’ve a violet found,
Growing in its beauty
From the cold, dark ground.

You are sad, dear mother,
Tears are in your eye ;
You’re not glad to see it :
Mother, tell me why ?
I remember, –Last year,
Where our Willie lies,
Grew the earliest violet,
Blue as were his eyes.

Then you told me, mother,
That the flowers would fade,
And their withered blossoms
On the earth be laid.

But you said, as springtime
Would their buds restore,
Willie would in heaven
Be forevermore.

Weep no more, dear mother !
Violets are in bloom ;
And your darling Willie
Lives beyond the tomb.

Change Of Worlds. by Rev. J. N. Maffit.

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.

The introductory quote is taken from a hymn called Psalm 23 by the famous English hymn writer Isaac Watts (1674 – 1748).

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.

Smitten Of God. Why stand ye gazing up into heaven?

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. 

I find this lovely piece of prose quite fascinating. There is no author listed and no date, but the text appears to be referring to a number of deaths which occurred in the community within a few days. I suspect, as the author refers to the deceased as ‘tender flowers’, that they were possibly children. It is very moving.

The quotes used are not cited, but “why stand ye gazing up into heaven ?” is taken from Acts 1:11, two men (angels) in white robes ask this to the disciples who are still gazing skyward after Jesus’ rather rapid ascension. In full it reads: ‘Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manners as ye have seen him go into heaven.’ The quote “smitten of God, and bereaved” is from Isaiah 53:4. However, the quote “a gloom on the face of Nature” is a little more intriguing. It actually originates from a letter published in The Massachusetts Spy (a newspaper published by Isaiah Thomas). The letter was describing the infamous day of May 19, 1780 known as New England’s Dark Day. The Boston Chronicle of June 8 1780 quoted the Massachusetts Spy and in full it reads: ‘During the whole time a sickly, melancholy gloom overcast the face of nature. Nor was the darkness of the night less uncommon and terrifying than that of the day; notwithstanding there was almost a full moon, no object was discernible, but by the help of some artificial light, which when seen from the neighbouring houses and other places at a distance, appeared through a kind of Egyptian darkness, which seemed almost impervious to the rays. This unusual phenomenon excited the fears and apprehensions of many people. Some considered it as a portentous omen of the wrath of Heaven in vengeance denounced against the land, others as the immediate harbinger of the last day when ‘the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not giver her light.’ ” The last line is a quote from Mark 13:24. The writer is actually describing the effects of what sounds like a massive forest fire which occurred in Canada but whose thick smoke travelled south and darkened the sky of New England in what sounds like a most dramatic way. Many people interpreted this natural phenomenon as a religious warning. Therefore, the quote below does not necessarily date the prose to 1780, but could have been much later as this event of the Dark Day turned into folklore, and even more significantly, local religious discourse which would still have been familiar decades later. How utterly fascinating.

Smitten Of God.

“Why stand ye gazing up into heaven?”

WHO has not felt, when one dearly beloved has been snatched away, an inclination to forget all the things of earth, and to stand idle, helpless, stricken, on the shores of Time ; gazing, longing after the lost, regardless of all that is left ; all love, all remembrance, all hope, swallowed up in the one agonized sense of bereavement ?
” Smitten of God, and bereaved ;” was not this, too written by one who knew of what he spoke ? who had felt the bitter pang of parting ; the awful sense of God’s agency in earthly sorrow ; the struggle between passionate regret and holy submission.
The human soul knows no variety in sorrow for the dead. Whatever else may change in the course of time, this remains the same throughout the ages. Paul, the sainted, the subdued, wrote not those tender words without a swelling of he heart ; and many a mourner since responds to them with tears.
Death has been busy, of late. Many a tender flower, many a “shining mark,” many a household stay and comfort, has he snatched away within a few short days. To many of our friends and fellow-citizens the bright spring heavens seem hung in black, and all the joyous associations that came up with the warm sunshine are changed to images of sadness and despondency. The idea of “a gloom on the face of Nature” is not a mere poetic fiction. To the mourner whose grief is in its fresh bitterness, there seems an absolutely perceptible shadow, like a pall of dark vapor, spread over the gayest objects. Nothing looks as it used. The heart sees not like the careless eyes. We feel as if the sun could never shine again for us.

Love Dies Not. by W. H. Burleigh.

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. 

William Henry Burleigh (1812 – 1871) was a Unitarian minister and social activist who edited an abolitionist newspaper in Brooklyn, Connecticut. He wrote poetry and hymns. From 1849 – 1855 he was the agent of the New York State Temperance Society. Between the years of 1863 – 65 W.H. Burleigh suffered the loss of his father, wife, son and daughter. In 1865 he married Celia Burr, an advocate of women’s rights in the 19th Century and the first woman to join the Unitarian ministry after the death of her husband in 1871, and upon his encouragement. .

Love Dies Not.

DEEM not, beloved, that the glow
Of love with youth will know decay;
For though the wing of time may throw
Its shadows o’er our way,
The sunshine of a cloudless faith,
The calmness of a holy trust,
Shall linger in our hearts, till death
Consigns their dust to dust.

The earnest passion of our youth,
The fervor of affection’s kiss,
Love, born of purity and truth,-
All pleasant memories,-
These still are ours, while looking back
Upon the past with moistened eyes,
Oh ! dearest,- on our life’s brief track,
How much of sunshine lies !

Men call us poor,- it may be true,-
Amidst the gay and glittering crowd
We feel it, though our wants are few,
Yet envy not the proud.
The freshness of love’s early flowers,
Heart-sheltered through long years of want,
Pure hopes and quiet joys are ours,
Which wealth could never grant.

Something of beauty from thy brow,
Of lightness from thy household tread,
Hath passed ; but thou art dearer now
Than when our vows were said.
A softer beauty round thee beams,
Chastened by time, yet calmly bright ;
And from thine eye of hazel beams
A deeper, tenderer light.

The mother, with her dewy eye,
Is dearer than the blushing bride
Who stood, three happy years gone by,
In beauty, by my side !
Our Father, throned in light above,
Hath blessed us with a fairy child,
A bright link in the chain of love,-
The pure and undefiled !

Rich in the heart’s best treasure, still,
With a calm trust we’ll journey on,
Linked heart with heart, dear wife ! until
Life’s pilgrimage be done.
Youth, beauty, passion,- these will pass,
Like everything of earth, away,-
The breath-stains on the polished glass
Less transient are than they.

But love dies not,- the child of God,-
The soother of life’s many woes,-
She scatters fragrance round the sod
Where buried hopes repose !
She leads us with a a radiant hand
Earth’s pleasant streams and pastures by,
Still pointing to a better land
Of bliss beyond the sky !

The Design Of Affliction.

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. 

This text refers to a Richard Cecil who appears to be a very popular and successful evangelical Anglican clergyman in England in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. If so, his mother was the sister to a Mr Benjamin Grosvenor, author of The Mourner published in 1765. Certainly the tone of the message would support this. Thomas Williams was perhaps this man who shared a business with his brother selling books and maps from a highly respected business in The Strand.

Richard Cecil

Richard Cecil

The Design of Affliction.

MANY years ago, a pious and devoted clergyman entered the shop of a prosperous London bookseller, with whom he was on terms of intimate and Christian friendship. He inquired for his friend, and when told that he was at home, but particularly engaged, sent a messenger to him to the effect that he wished for an interview with him, if but for a few minutes. This message being delivered, the clergyman was invited to walk up stairs into the bookseller’s sitting-room. He entered the room, and found his friend sitting by his child’s cot. The child was dying, but with affection strong in death, it had clasped its father’s hand, and was holding it with a convulsive grasp.
” You are a father,” said the afflicted parent, ” or I should not have allowed you to witness such a scene.”
” Thank God, thank God,” fervently exclaimed the minister, as he instinctively comprehended at a glance the situation of his friend, “thank God. He has not forgotten you ! I have been much troubled on your account, my dear sir. I have thought much about you lately. I have been much afraid for you. Things have gone so well with you for so long a time, you have been so prosperous, that I have been almost afraid that God had forgotten you. But I said to myself, surely, God will not forsake such a man as this ; will not suffer him to go on so long in prosperity without some check, some reverse ! And I see he has not. No ; God has not forgotten you.”
These were the sentiments of Richard Cecil, on the design of affliction ; and his friend, Thomas Williams, thankfully and joyfully responded to them. Within three weeks of his death he related the incident as it is related here, and the feeling of his heart was, ” He hath done all things well.”

The Dying Saint.

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. 

The Dying Saint.

HEAR ye, from yonder couch, the struggling breath,
That tells of weakness and the hour of death ?
It is the good man’s death. But mark his air ;
The calm of resignation settles there.
No dread of death ; the terror and the gloom,
Are not for those who look beyond the tomb.
Faith penetrates the dark and deep ; her eye
Beams full and bright with immortality.
No dread of death ; the messenger of peace,
Death comes to give the Christian his release ;
Death comes to burst the fetter and the chain.
For him to live was Christ, to dies is gain ;
How vast the gain, no language may disclose, –
How vast that gain, the saint in glory knows ;
The joy unspeakable which evermore,
The ransomed ones shall taste on Cannaan’s shore.
The ransomed ones, by Jesus’ blood forgiven,
The called, the sanctified, shall enter heaven ;
The saved from death, from woe, and every sigh,
Shall swell the loud hosannas of the sky.