"God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;
and there shall be no more crying."--Rev. 21:4
It were more than mere affectation--it were a sin
of no ordinary turpitude of guilt--to ignore, whatever the philosophical
view we may take of humanity, its emotional element. Mysterious as
our human organization is, yet more inexplicable would be its mystery, were
either the physiologist, the philosopher, or the theologian to exclude from
his study of man this essential and exquisite constituent of his nature. In
molding us after His own likeness God has invested us with sensibility.
Endowing us with mind, He has equally endowed us with a heart;
creating us capable of reasoning, He has equally created us capable of
feeling. The essence of God is sensibility. It is no where
recorded in the inspired records that God is wisdom--though He is "the
only wise God;" it is no where asserted that He is power--though
"power belongs unto God;" neither is it anywhere recorded that He is
immortality--though "He only has immortality;" but, it is
declared that--"GOD IS LOVE"--in other words, that love is the
essence of the Divine Being.
Now, it is from this infinite ocean of His nature, that
God has distilled a portion into our original creation, investing us with
sensibility, and thus making us like Himself--lovable and
loving--objectively and subjectively, a reflection--faint and defaced
indeed--of Himself. And as love is a quality more akin to feeling
than to reflection--is more the gentle child of the heart than the athletic
offspring of reason--it is no marvel that sensibility, like the flower of a
yet unsinned Paradise, should unfold its bloom and breathe its fragrance
along all the sylvan walks and avenues of life.
It is impossible for a thoughtful and spiritual mind to
take this view of our nature and not admire the wisdom and beneficence of
God in providing for the outlet and expression of our
sensibility. Our humanity, thus invested with sensibility--often of the
acutest character and profoundest depth--needed an outflow--the heart
demanded a channel. Feeling must be as free as thought; the heart as
unfettered as the mind. To restrain, or curb, or crush our sensibilities
would prove as dangerous and fatal to our existence, as the suppressed and
pent-up vapor to the strongest and most accomplished piece of mechanism. A
mental explosion would inevitably follow.
Now God has mercifully anticipated, and wisely provided
for this necessity of our nature. TEARS come to our relief! Tears are the
expression of sensibility--the language of sorrow, the symbols of grief. Our
emotions must and will speak, or the heart will burst from its
shrine, and the mind reel from its throne. "Sorrow is a kind of rust of the
soul, which every new idea contributes in its pangs to scour away. It is the
putrefaction of stagnant life, and is remedied by exercise and motion."
(Johnson) We have already remarked that, condensed and imprisoned air is
explosive and dangerous. Infinitely more so is the pent-up, unexpressed
sensibility of the soul. Grief and love, either self-concealed or crushed by
others, have contributed more to fill our asylums than, perhaps, any other
cause besides. Our emotions seek an outlet; our feelings demand an
expression; love yearns to confide, and grief pines to repose. Suppress
these emotions of the soul, conceal these feelings of the heart, shroud
these thoughts of the mind, chill and petrify these sensibilities of our
humanity, and you have gone far effectually to impair, if not entirely
destroy, one of the noblest creations of God--a loving heart, a sensitive
spirit, a refined and thoughtful mind.
"Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak,
Whispers the over-fraught heart and bids it break."
What a divinely wise and beneficent provision then, are
tears! What a safety-valve of the soul! What an outlet of the
profoundest grief and of the intensest love, and what an inlet of the
divinest joy and the sweetest repose!
The present life is a night of mourning--the world, a
valley of tears--man, a weeper! A cry of woe proclaims our advent into its
busy scenes, and groans attend our exit from them--while tears bedew the
intervening passage from the cradle to the grave. But tears are not all
symbols of woe, or expressions of suffering--unmusical and voiceless. They
often come on a divine embassy and speak in the language of heaven. The
blessings they scatter from their dewy wings are many and precious.
Sanctified by grace, they soften our rugged nature, cool our fevered
passions, recall our truant affections, and, detaching our minds from the
things that are seen and temporal, they fix them more entirely upon the
things that are unseen and eternal. Through their misty veil faith observes
the "King in His beauty, and the land that is very far off."
With what a resplendent rainbow did the prisomed tear of
Jesus arch the grave of Lazarus! "JESUS WEPT." O the love, the significance,
the sympathy of those wondrous tears! And are not rainbows pencilled upon
the dark clouds of our pilgrimage by the tears we shed on our way to heaven?
Yes! They impel us to prayer; they endear Christ; they draw us to God; they
lift us to heaven. What a power, too, do tears give us in dealing with
souls! What an avenue they open to the most sinful and obdurate heart!
Select the most guilty and hardened criminal that ever stood at the
bar--manacled and doomed to die. Approach him in gentleness; address him in
tones of sympathy and with words of kindness; recall the memories of the
past--the home and innocence of childhood, a mother's fondness, and a
father's care; speak of God's love to the wanderer, of the Savior's grace to
sinners, and of the hope which the gospel unveils to the vilest of the
race--and in a moment you have unlocked every ward of his heart, have
touched every chord of his soul, and have found an avenue to every cloister
of his innermost being. Oh! be encouraged in your work of winning souls by
the tear that trembles in the sinner's eye! The moment you observe
sensibility, the rainbow of hope appears!
But our subject leads our thoughts forward to the
tearless world of which it is said, "And there shall be no more crying."
We need scarcely remark that this condition of the
glorified includes the absence of LITERAL tears. Tears are a
necessary and benevolent provision of our material bodies--we find a sweet
relief in tears. But the body of the resurrection will be a
'spiritual body'--still the temple of the soul, but freed from all its
present corporal infirmity and sin. We have no data by which to
arrive at an intelligent and distinct idea of the "spiritual body;" but this
much we know--it will not be a weeping body; there will, indeed,
still be acute sensibility, profound feeling, deep emotion; but there will
be no more tears. Tears, now so beneficent, so relieving, so
hallowed, will then be done away; for we shall inhabit a spiritual body,
fashioned like unto Christ's glorious body, whose eyes will weep no more.
There will be no more tears of PENITENCE in
Heaven. The tears of contrition wept on earth are the most precious that
bedew the eye. If God has a "bottle for our tears," methinks it is for
these. There is no spiritual and gracious condition of the soul more marked,
and honored, and blessed of God, than that of a broken and a contrite heart
for sin. It would seem as if it were the spiritual state which the most
closely assimilated the believing soul to Christ, whose heart sorrowed, and
sobbed, and was broken for the sins of His people. "Sorrow has broken my
heart." Can we doubt God's estimation of the tears of penitence, after
reading Divine declarations so marvelous and touching as these? "Thus
says the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy. I
dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and
humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart
of the contrite ones." (Isa. 57:15) "To this man will I look, even to
him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at My word."
Precious in His sight are the tears of godly sorrow for
sin--the fruit of His own Spirit's work in the soul. The power and skill of
human genius in the construction of a finely-tuned instrument, is equaled,
if not surpassed, by its perfect restoration when broken and destroyed. God
made the human heart a pure reflection of His holiness and sweetly melodious
with His praise--and in this we adore His creative power and love. But that
God should take that heart destroyed by the fall and tainted by sin, repair
its ruin, re-tune its strings, and awake it to the new song of salvation ten
thousand times sweeter than the melody that first breathed from it in
Paradise--how has He, as it were, surpassed Himself!
O holy, blessed tears, wept beneath the cross, or bathing
Jesus' feet! It is the first dawn of grace in the soul; the earliest sign of
spiritual life; the pledge of a tearless Heaven. To whose ears is the gospel
of the grace of God a joyful sound? To whose heart is the blood of Jesus the
most precious? Who has God the most near to Him, looking upon them with a
loving eye, and touching them with a divine and healing hand? Oh, it is he
whose heart is broken, whose spirit is contrite for sin. "The sacrifices
of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will
And Oh, how cheering to the heart, and lovely to the eye
of the gospel preacher, are the tears of spiritual sensibility glistening in
the eyes of his hearers! As an evidence of the power of the Spirit with the
word in the souls of the people, they are the priceless diamonds of his
ministry, to him more valuable, precious, and sparkling than the famed
Kohinoor itself! Such a scene would be more frequently witnessed were
the Holy Spirit more recognized, honored, and sought in the ministry of the
Word. Were there more weeping preachers, there would be more weeping
hearers. Paul was not ashamed to remind the elders of Ephesus how he "had
been with them at all seasons, serving the Lord . . . with many TEARS,"
and how he had "ceased not to warn every one day and night with TEARS."
Addressing the Corinthian church, he could say, "I wrote unto you
with many TEARS." And it was with the same deep and holy emotion that he
addressed the Philippians, and said, "Many walk, of whom I have told you
often, and now tell you WEEPING, that they are the enemies of the cross of
Oh, let us who deal with souls, who preach Christ and in
view of eternity, not fail to steep the precious seed we sow in tears of the
deepest sensibility. Where is there an office more worthy, a work more
befitting, an end more in harmony with the tears of the deepest sympathy,
than that of the Christian minister addressing himself to deathless and
endangered souls speeding to the judgment-seat? The thought of one
soul saved, the spectacle of one soul lost, were sufficient to
inspire the highest joy, the deepest woe. Think only of the latter--a
soul lost--lost to all eternity! "What, my brethren, if it be lawful to
indulge such a thought, would be the funeral rites of a lost soul? Where
shall we find the tears fit to be wept at such a spectacle? or could we
realize the calamity in all its extent, what tokens of sympathy and concern
would be deemed equal to the occasion? Would it suffice for the sun to veil
his light and the moon her brightness; to cover the ocean with mourning and
the heavens with sackcloth? or were the whole fabric of nature to become
animated and vocal, would it be possible for her to utter a groan too deep,
or a cry too piercing, to express the magnitude and extent of such a
catastrophe?" (Robert Hall) How holy and precious, then, are the tears of
penitence--tears wept on this side of eternity for sin felt--sin
loathed--sin pardoned--sin forsaken.
"Why, O my soul, why weep thou?
Oh, say from whence arise
Those briny tears that often flow,
Those groans that pierce the skies?
"Is sin the cause of your complaint
Or the chastising rod?
Do you departed friends lament,
Or mourn an absent God?
"Lord, let me weep for naught but sin,
And after none but Thee!
And then I would--oh, that I might--
A constant weeper be!"
But in Heaven there will be no weeping penitents, because
there will be no more sin to weep for. He who dried their tears on earth
with a sense of His own pardoning love, will then wipe off all tears from
all faces with its "fullness of joy."
There will be no tears of SUFFERING in Heaven. How
universally and profusely do these tears now bedew the pillow! What
multitudes weep for very pain! But in Heaven, where there will be no more
disease, nor infirmity, nor suffering; those tears, often wept when no eye
traces them but God's eye--in solitude and in the night season--are dried
forever. Oh, think of this, you sick and suffering one! The last tear will
soon fall from your eye, and you shall weep no more forever; for "there
shall be no more dying."
There will be no more tears of AFFLICTION. These
are often flowing and bitter. Our Father's discipline causes His children
often sorely to cry. Yes, He corrects us that we may feel the force and hear
the voice of the rod. An unfelt chastisement is an unsanctified
chastisement. Its mission is thwarted, its blessing is lost. The Lord
intends that we shall be sensible of His judgments, and talk with Him
concerning them. He would have us so to feel the smarting of the rod that we
may inquire, "Is there not a cause?"--and diligently searching, and
surely finding it, humble ourselves under His mighty hand because of it,
until He lifts us up. But oh--sweet thought!--the rod of paternal discipline
will be laid aside in Heaven--treasured, it may be, in its archives, as was
Aaron's rod that budded in the ark, and the tears of sorrow it unsealed be
forever dried, for "there shall be no more crying."
There will be no more tears of BEREAVEMENT in
Heaven. Who can analyze the tears--or portray the grief of bereaved
sorrow? To part with those we love; to catch the last look; to hear the
last farewell; to listen to the last breath of one dear to us as our own
soul--Oh, the intensity, Oh, the anguish of that woe! But faith looks beyond
these partings to the meetings! These sunderings of love's
tie, of friendship's bond, to that tearless world, where the very death that
separates us now, reunites us again with those "who die in the Lord." Be
comforted, bereaved heart, if you are not sorrowing as those who have no
hope. Jesus--who wept at the tomb--is not blind or indifferent to the tears
you rain over that grassy mound. When you go to the grave to weep there, let
faith look up to that bright world where there is no death-parting and no
graves, but where the tears of bereavement are wiped away by God's own
hand--for "there shall be no more crying."
There will be no more weeping for an ABSENT SAVIOR.
Mary weeping at Christ's tomb in search of her lost Lord, is but the
type of many disciples of Christ, who go mourning and weeping through cloudy
and dark days, because they have not the sensible presence of, and the sweet
communion with, Him their souls love. But what an evidence is this holy
sensibility of a divinely-quickened soul, of a spiritually-intensified mind,
of a Christ-loving heart! Oh, how blessed the condition--sad and desolate
though for a time it may be--of a soul arising from its bed of sloth in
quest of the Savior, whose withdrawn presence it feels and deplores. "By
night on my bed I sought Him whom my soul loves--I sought Him, but I found
Him not. I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the
broad ways I will seek Him whom my soul loves--I sought Him, but I found Him
not. The watchmen that go about the city found me--to whom I said, Did you
saw Him whom my soul loves? It was but a little that I passed from them, and
I found Him whom my soul loves." (Cant. 3:1-4)
Oh blessed seeking an absent Savior! Not a tear is lost
which is wept after a withdrawn Christ. Do you think, Christ-seeking one,
that Jesus is indifferent to the drawings and yearnings of your heart toward
Him? Impossible! "Therefore will the Lord wait, that He may be gracious
unto you; and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon
you--for the Lord is a God of judgment--blessed are all those who wait for
Him. You shall weep no more--He will be very gracious unto you at the voice
of your cry; when He shall hear it, He will answer you." (Isaiah
30:18,19) No poor soul ever really sought Christ that did not find
Him. Mary sought Him sorrowing, sought Him weeping; and soon she found
Him--Jesus manifesting Himself to her soul, comforting her sorrow, and
drying her tears. But in Heaven we shall no more lose sight of Jesus; no
more mourn His absence--for, "there shall be no more crying."
A few words in conclusion. Let us not place too great
reliance upon the religion of emotion, a religion of mere
sensibility. Religious feeling, deep and strong, may exist apart from
real conversion. Tears may flow fast and warm from a vivid representation of
Christ's sufferings, or from a glowing picture of Heaven's happiness,
unaccompanied by a change of heart, a holy life, or a good hope of glory. It
is recorded of Burns that he could never read the words upon which this
chapter is based without tears. The touching view which it presents of the
Divine tenderness, and the poetic picture it portrays of a tearless Heaven,
stirred to its lowest depths the sensibility of one whose life was yet
deformed and tainted by many a sad infirmity and sin.
Oh! rest not short of true conversion, a mind
divinely instructed in the truth, and renewed spiritually by the Holy
Spirit; a heart contrite, changed, and sanctified by grace; and a hope--a
good hope through grace built believingly and entirely upon the blood and
righteousness of Christ. While avoiding the two extremes--a religion of the
intellect on the one hand, cold as moonlight--and a religion of feeling on
the other, evaporating in mere sensibility--seek that both may be blended in
your personal experience--the mind divinely and intelligently enlightened
through the truth, and the heart spiritually quickened and sanctified by the
Spirit; the religion of your soul thus possessing the true, grand, essential
elements of reality--light and life.
Do not overlook the provision God has made for the tears
of His saints. For the tears of penitence--there is the cleansing
blood of Jesus; for the tears of adversity--there is the unchanging
love of Jesus; for the tears of sorrow--there is the tender sympathy
of Jesus; for the tears of suffering--there is the all-sufficient
grace of Jesus; for the tears of solitude--there is the personal,
ever-abiding, never-failing presence of Jesus. O precious tears, which like
pearls of matchless beauty and priceless worth, have so rich and costly a
setting! They are "Apples of gold in pictures of silver."
One thought more. It is God who alone can dry our
tears. No power, no compassion, no love short of the Divine can wipe the
tear from the weeping eye. How striking and beautiful the prophecy of this!
"And the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces." (Isa. 25:8)
And in the New Jerusalem state, how literally and fully is this
accomplished--"And the Lord God shall wipe away all tears from their
eyes." He who knows our sorrow, who has an ear for the voice of our
weeping, can keep our eyes from tears; or, when they flow, can so staunch
and dry them, as to turn our mourning into dancing, putting off our
sackcloth and girding us with gladness. Thus we are taught that our sorrows
are designed to make us better acquainted with God; to detach us from a too
idolatrous reliance upon human sympathy and support; to sob our grief upon
the bosom of Christ; and to seek that our tears may rise beyond mere feeling
and sentiment, and become so instinct with Divine intelligence, life and
holiness, as to impart greater robustness to our Christianity, reality to
our religion, elevation and sanctity to our Christian principles and walk.
Let us learn to IMITATE THE DIVINE COMPASSION. Does the
Lord God condescend to dry the mourner's tears? Be it our holy and
benevolent mission to go and do likewise! O sacred privilege "to weep
with those who weep," and from our own excess of affluence, or
health, or grace, or joy, administer help and comfort to those that are in
any need or sorrow--drying the orphan's tears, making the widow's heart to
sing for joy; raising the fallen, restoring the wandering, pouring sunshine
into the desolate home--in conformity to the example of Jesus, who gives us
"beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise
for the spirit of heaviness."
"If a pilgrim has been shaded
By a tree that I have nursed;
If a cup of clear, cold water
I have raised to lips athirst;
If I've planted one sweet flower
By an else too barren way;
If I've whispered in the midnight
One sweet word to tell of day;
If in one poor bleeding bosom
I a woe-swept chord have stilled;
If a dark and restless spirit
I with hope of heaven have filled;
If I've made for life's hard battle
One faint heart grow brave and strong,
Then, my God, I thank You, bless You,
For the precious gift of song."
He, to whom tears are sacred things, whose Christ-like
mission it is to repair to the house of mourning, the bed of sickness, the
couch of loneliness, and wipe the tear of sorrow--shall not lack a Diviner
and holier hand to dry his, when the night of weeping comes, and
lover and friend are far away, and there is none to soothe the sad and
lonely heart but God. Oh, look through the mist of your tears, to that
tearless world of which it is said--"The Lord God will wipe away tears
from off all faces."
"Oh, for the robes of whiteness!
Oh, for the tearless eyes!
Oh, for the glorious brightness
Of the unclouded skies!
Oh, for the 'no more weeping',
Within the land of love--
The endless joy of keeping
The bridal feast above!
Oh, for the bliss of dying,
My risen Lord to meet!
Oh, for the rest of lying
Forever at His feet!
Oh, for the hour of seeing,
My Savior face to face!
The hope of ever being
In that sweet meeting-place.
Jesus, O King of glory
I soon shall dwell with Thee--
I soon shall sing the story
Of Your great love to me.
Meanwhile my thoughts shall enter
Even now before Your Throne,
That all my love may center
In You--and You alone."
"He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God
will wipe away tears from off all faces."