"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I
will give you rest."
"I am the resurrection, and the life--he that believes in
Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." John 11:25
"If a man dies, shall he live again?" has been the
perplexed and perplexing question, the anxious, unsolved problem of the
ages. When these eyes close in their mortal sleep, when dust has returned to
dust, ashes to ashes, earth to earth, shall there be, can there be, a
requickening from decay to vitality? or is all to end in
annihilation--dreamless oblivion? There is much to dim and darken. The very
analogies of nature, beautiful as they are and so often quoted, are in
themselves partial, unsatisfactory. Under the blaze of rigid, exacting
truth, they are defective and misleading. The corn-grain, apparently without
a spark of animation, as inert as the clods under which it is laid, is not
dead but living. "Our Lord," says Luther, "has written the promise of the
resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in spring time." Yes;
but these leaves come from no dead branch, or sapless trunk, or decayed
root, but are nurtured by living though unseen forces within the apparent
skeleton tree. The chrysalis, with the seeming torpor of death, has within
it, also, the embryo, the same slumbering forces of life; its lustrous wings
are not born of the worm and corruption. Not so that pulseless, rayless,
inanimate mortal human body, the speedy prey of dissolution. There is
resurrection, rejuvenescence for the flowers of spring which rim the loved
one's grave; but all else below seems to refute the fond dream of an
afterlife, when, year after year, decade after decade, nothing save
"everlasting silence reigns."
"But come with Me," says Christ, "and I will ease you of
this burden also. I will reveal to you the secret hidden from ages and
generations. I can take, as no other can, the bereft to the tombs of their
loved ones, and whisper My own requiem and lullaby--In Christ, in peace.
Rest with Me." You who are bearing this heaviest and most
crushing of life-sorrows, be comforted! You can write on every churchyard
gate, you can carve on every stone in these realms of silence, "My flesh
also shall rest in hope."
Laying aside the natural arguments for the immortality of
the soul (perhaps one of the strongest of which is the instinctive feeling
within each of us of a hereafter), all uncertainty is swept away by the
great word, and, subsequently, by the great deed, of our
Divine Redeemer. He proclaims Himself here, when standing amid the memorials
of death, as "the Resurrection, and the Life." He proved and substantiated
the assertion--first, in a subsidiary way, by the revivifying of His
deceased friend; and, afterwards, far more by His own gigantic triumph over
Death and Hades, when He came forth from the sepulcher a moral Conqueror. By
that rising He has converted the graves of His people into "cemeteries"
(sleeping places), "hospices" (houses of peace). The everlasting
hills, to every pilgrim, are gilded with the light of unsetting suns. Our
"loved and lost" are only lost to be loved again–
"Though down the long, dim avenues of the past
Their swift feet fled,
In His eternity the rooms are vast–
There wait they to be ours at last–
They are not dead!"
Glorious assurance! In Him, my once dying but now
ever-living Lord and Head, Death is vanquished and the Grave spoiled. The
last enemy only ushers into a blessed continuity of life. Christ, having
overcome the sharpness of death, has opened the kingdom of heaven to all
A writer narrates that Marcia, a Roman matron, was
inconsolable, mourning the irreparable loss of a son of great promise.
Seneca, one of the sagest of pagan philosophers, whose counsel she sought,
advised her to forget her grief "as the lower creation do." His panacea was
'oblivion'. "Go, bury your sorrow." "Let the dead bury their dead." Hear
Him, who has opened a Hospice at the very mouth of the dark valley, speaking
by the lips of His apostle--"But I would not have you to be ignorant,
brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as
others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again,
even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him" (1 Thess.
No wonder the first Christians, on the walls of their
catacombs, loved to portray the fabled Phoenix, the bird of Immortality,
perched on the true Heavenly Palm; and that their loved greeting was not,
"The Lord has died," but, "The Lord has risen."
"Hallelujah! dry the tear,
'Jesus Christ is risen!'
Sound o'er every silent coffin–
'Jesus Christ is risen!'
Thrice blessed pledge, you mourners, keep,
Who for your loved departed weep,
Because He lives, they only sleep,
May it be your earnest desire now, as risen with Christ,
to seek those things that are above, where He sits at the right hand of God,
that– "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also
appear with Him in glory."
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest. This is
the place of repose." Isaiah 28:12