The Death of a Father
George Mylne, 1871
And are you, then, in mourning for your father, my sorrowing friend? I thought so from your garb. You are feeling now the very depths of family distress, when sable calls to sable to be doubly dark. It is a peculiar sorrow that marks a father's death, and this you never felt before. How could you? One only father had you — you could not have but one! And, as he stood to you in a relation shared by none beside — so must your present sorrow be unique in character, embodying, as it does, the retrospect of all that marked him as your earthly head.
Oh, there is something inexpressible . . .
in a father's rule;
in a father's love;
in a father's thoughtfulness;
in a father's tender care;
in the undefinable association connected with a father's name.
In all well-regulated families, the father's word the law, his judgment is the director of their ways.
I envy not the man who does not venerate his father's memory — still less I envy him (for such, alas! there are), who had a father that he cannot mourn.
My friend, I hope you have comfort in your father's memory. He may have chastened you in childhood — for this you ought to love him all the more. And though he was stern in manner when your youthful follies vexed him, or if he lacked, at all times, the beaming love and tenderness that some display — yet was he your father — your very father still. What would you have been without him, and what would the family have been, without his fostering care? Children think little of their father's anxious thought, the deep responsibility of a father's rule. And when he is gone, they may find too late how much they owed him — too late to thank him, yet not too late to bless his memory and hold it dear.
And ofttimes your conscience tells of actual faults — sad derelictions of your filial duty — of many things which grieved a father's heart — and cause a blush to mantle in your cheek when he is no longer there to see it, and accept the tardy apologies.
How oft, when standing at a father's grave, that solemn wording of the service may sadly and solemnly be impressed on some wayward son, "You know, Lord, the secrets of our hearts" — the secret things of inward accusations. Such convictions embitter grief a thousandfold, and nothing can fitly quiet them but God's grace — grace to confess the sin, grace to ask for pardon through the Savior's blood; if, perhaps, sin done against an earthly father may find forgiveness at a heavenly Father's hand.
My grieving friend, I speak to you as one who loved his father, and respects his memory — to one in need of sympathy, that in your bereavement you may be comforted. And say, is there not One to feel for you, as mortal cannot do? Are you but willing that the God of Heaven step in to fill the empty space? Is He not "a Father of the fatherless"? (Psalm 68:5.) And you are fatherless. Don't you still need a father's love — a father's watchful care — a father's counsel? And where can you find it, but in the Living God? Are you ready to accept the offer, welcome the privilege — ready to nestle beneath the Almighty wing? Can you call Him "My Father"?
But this involves no trifle. It implies the depth and height, the breadth and length of God's grace. It speaks of more than nature's possibilities. It tells of an adoption from above, of admission through the Spirit into the family of God, whereby the soul may cry, "Abba, Father!"
Tell me, are you Born Again? One greater than man has said it must be so: "You must be born again" (John 3:7). Without this, God cannot be your Father. Without this, no entrance can you have to Heaven (John 3:3). Without this, no heavenly parentage can you have to keep and comfort you. Consider it, I beg you — deeply consider it. It concerns your eternal good — more than it concerns your present sorrow.
And how then can you have that sweet adoption, spoken of above? The Scripture tells you, where it says, "As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to those who believe on His name" (John 1:12). It speaks of Jesus — of receiving Him, of believing in Him. He is the One to go to. Ask it of Him. Ask for the pardon of your sins through His most precious blood.
Ask Him to give you the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13). He is called "The Comforter" (John 14:26) — to comfort sinners smarting for their sins — to comfort them in bringing them to Jesus. And thus they will be led to His comfort in times of trouble, even in trouble such as yours. Can you afford to miss His services? Are you content to be without a Comforter like this? Then pray to have Him for your own, that by His means you may become a child of God, and find in Him a Father, and a Friend, and a Comforter.