Love photographs them in the heart!
(William Thoseby, "Foot-prints on the Sands of Time" 1869)
"The righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death!" Isaiah 57:1-2
It is true there are strong consolations and compensations in Divine providence, but even the Christian consolations cannot drink up all the heart's sorrow in the hour of separating death. We cry with truth, but yet in tears, "O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?" "Yes in all these things we are more than conquerors," but we are conquerors with bleeding wounds and scars of the conflict upon us.
When a dear life is taken from the near presence of our own life, no antidote of reasoning, nor cordial of promise even, can make us oblivious of the loss. In the moment of most entire submission and most exultant faith — we feel the pang of separation. Our affections grope and wander uneasily in the vacancy that has been made, and we return home companionless and sorrowing. We are awed by the voiceless room, and the vacant chair affects us with sadness. Every relic and memorial of the life that is ended, tells us that it is ended indeed. The dearly departed live in the chambers of our soul. We see their lovely forms, hear their sweet voices, feel their tender touch, and almost grasp their hands. Love photographs them in the heart!
When therefore a dear life is taken, the person who is left must suffer. And since so it is, we come, through "many a winding maze" to conclude that thus it ought to be. "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" "Now we see through a glass darkly."
But in our ignorance and blind unbelief, we are too apt to arraign the rectitude of the Divine procedure, exclaiming:
How bewildering is this afflictive dealing!
How baffling is this mystery!
Where is now my God?
This sickness — why prolonged?
This thorn in the flesh — why still buffeting?
This family blank — why permitted?
Why the most treasured and useful life taken — the blow aimed where it cut most severely?
Hush the secret atheism! — for the day is coming when every dark hieroglyphic in the Roll of Divine Providence, will be made plain and clear. When what are called . . .
"strokes of misfortune"
trials, sorrows, crosses, losses, adversities, sicknesses —
the emptied cup,
the withered gourd,
the lingering illness,
the early grave,
the useful lives taken,
blossoms prematurely plucked,
spiritual props removed,
benevolent schemes blown upon
— over all these, will not this grand motto be written as in characters of living light — which may be read on anguished pillows and aching hearts, yes, on the very portals of the tomb itself, "This also comes from the LORD almighty; He is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom!" Isaiah 28:29
Let us "be still and know that He is God." "We know" says the apostle, "that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose!" Romans 8:28
We do not always see the bright light in the clouds, but it "shall come to pass that at evening time, it shall be light!"
Child of sorrow! Mourning over the withdrawal of some beloved object of earthly affection — dry your tears! An early death has been an early crown! The tie sundered here, links you to the throne of God. You have a Christian parent, a brother, a sister, in Heaven! You are the relative of a redeemed saint. "He shall enter" (he has entered) "into peace" — the "rest which remains for the people of God!"
We can only see one side of a Christian's death — the setting side, the expiring breath, the vanishing life, the cold clay corpse. We cannot see the risings on the other side — the angel convoy, Heaven's open gate, the Savior's welcome of the enraptured departed one. Yet it is none the less real.
Death to the Christian, is a birth into heavenly life — a life more real, more sweet, more calm, more pure than could be enjoyed on earth.
"Beloved! think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, but rejoice!" Soon you shall hear the sweet chimes wafted from the towers of the heavenly Jerusalem, "Enter into the joy of your Lord!" "The Lord God shall wipe away all tears from off all faces!"
Christian Mourner! Do not go to the grave to weep there. The devourer shall be devoured! The resurrection shall restore to you, all that death snatches away. And then, Oh! joyous hope, "death shall be swallowed up of life!" Glorious day! "Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection!"