When we gaze upon the lifeless corpse
(J. C. Philpot, "Light
Affliction and Eternal Glory" 1857)
From the cradle to the coffin, affliction and sorrow are
the appointed lot of man. He comes into the world with
a wailing cry, and he often leaves it with an agonizing
groan! Rightly is this earth called "a valley of tears," for
it is wet with them in infancy, youth, manhood, and old
age. In every land, in every climate, scenes of misery
and wretchedness everywhere meet the eye, besides
those deeper griefs and heart-rending sorrows which lie
concealed from all observation. So that we may well say
of the life of man that, like Ezekiel's scroll, it is "written
with lamentations, and mourning and woe."
But this is not all. The scene does not end here!
We see up to death, but we do not see beyond death.
To see a man die without Christ is like standing
at a distance, and seeing a man fall from a lofty
cliff—we see him fall, but we do not see the crash
on the rocks below.
So we see an unsaved man die, but when we gaze
upon the lifeless corpse, we do not see how his soul
falls with a mighty crash upon the rock of God's eternal
justice! When his temporal trials come to a close, his
eternal sorrows only begin! After weeks or months of
sickness and pain, the pale, cold face may lie in calm
repose under the coffin lid; when the soul is only just
entering upon an eternity of woe!
But is it all thus dark and gloomy both in life and death?
Is heaven always hung with a canopy of black? Are there
no beams of light, no rays of gladness, that shine through
these dark clouds of affliction, misery, and woe that are
spread over the human race?
Yes! there is one point in this dark scene out of which
beams of light and rays of glory shine! "God did not
appoint us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation
through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thessalonians 5:9