Though we mourn — we must not murmur!
(John Angell James, "Sorrow for the Death of Friends")
"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will leave this life. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Praise the name of the Lord! Job 1:21
When a holy and beloved object of our affection is removed by death, we ought to sorrow — humanity demands it, and Christianity, in the person of the weeping Jesus, allows it. The man without a tear, is a savage or a stoic — but not a Christian.
God intends when He bestows His gifts — that they should be received with smiles of gratitude; and when He recalls them — that they should be surrendered with "drops of sacred grief." Sorrow is an affection implanted by the Creator in the soul, for wise and beneficent purposes; and it ought not to be ruthlessly torn up by the roots — but directed in its exercise by reason and piety.
The work of grace, though it is above nature — is not against it. The man who tells me not to weep at the grave — insults me, mocks me, and wishes to degrade me! Tears are the silent, pure, sincere testimony of my heart to the excellence of the gift He gave in mercy; and in mercy, no doubt, as well as judgment, He has recalled.
But, though we mourn — we must not murmur. We may sorrow, but not with the passionate and uncontrolled grief of the heathen who have no hope. Our sorrow may flow as deep as we like — but noiseless and still, in the channels of submission.
It must be a sorrow so quiet as to hear all the words of consolation which our Heavenly Father utters amidst the gentle strokes of His rod.
It must be a sorrow so reverential as to adore Him for the exercise of His prerogative in taking away what and whom He pleases.
It must be a sorrow so composed as to prepare us for doing His will, as well as bearing it.
It must be a sorrow so meek and gentle as to justify Him in all His dispensations.
It must be a sorrow so confiding as to be assured that there is as much divine love in taking the mercy away, as there was in bestowing it.
It must be a sorrow so grateful as to be thankful for the mercies left, as well as afflicted for the mercies lost.
It must be a sorrow so trustful as to look forward to the future with hope, as well as back upon the past with distress.
It must be a sorrow so patient as to bear all the aggravations that accompany or follow the bereavement, with unruffled acquiescence.
It must be a sorrow so holy as to lift the prayer of faith for divine grace to sanctify the stroke.
It must be a sorrow so lasting as to preserve through all the coming years of life, the benefit of that event, which, in one awful moment, changed the whole aspect of our earthly existence.