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A FRIENDLY VISIT
HOUSE OF MOURNING.
IN THE DAY OF ADVERSITY CONSIDER.... Eccl. vü. 14.
Many are the sayings of the Wise,
Your present affliction, my dear friend, demands something more than the usual forms of condolence. Sorrow, which, like yours, cannot be prevented, may yet be alleviated and improved. This is my design in addressing you; and, if I seem to intrude upon your retirement, let my motive be my apology. Having felt how much better it is to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting,” (Eccl. vii. 2); having received my best Lessons, Companions, and even Comforts, in it; I would administer from my little stock of experience: and, while I thus endeavour to assist your meditations, shall rejoice if I may contribute, though but a mite, to your comfort.
Were I, indeed, acquainted with the peculiar circumstances of your loss, I should employ particular considerations. But my present address can have only a general aim: which is to acquaint the heart, at a favourable moment, with its grand concerns ; to give it a serious impression, when softened, and a heavenly direction, when moved. Let us, therefore, sit down humbly together in this House of Mourning. If “the heart of the wise be found " here, (Eccl. vii. 4) your experience, I hope, will prove that here also it is formed: —and let us calmly contemplate some momentous Objects intimately connected with it, and viewed with peculiar advantage from it.
OUR GOD is the first of these objects : with Him we seldom form any close acquaintance till we meet him in trouble. He commands silence now, that He may be heard ; and removes intervening objects, that He may be seen. A SOVEREIGN Disposer appears, who, as “Lord of all," hath only resumed what he lent; whose will is the law of his creatures, and who expressly declares his will in the present affliction. We should seriously consider that all allowed repugnance to the determinations of his government, however made known to us, is sin; and that every wish to alter the appointments of his wisdom, is FOLLY:"we know not what we ask.” When God discovers himself in any matter, they, who know him, “ will keep silence before him :" Hab. ii. 20. 6 Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him ?” How just was the reply ! “Behold I am vile! what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth :” Job xl. 2, 4.
This silent submission under trying dispensations, is variously exemplified, as well as inculcated in the Scriptures. An awful instance of sin and sorrow occurs in the family of Aaron: his sons disregarded a
divine appointment, and "there went out fire from the Lord and devoured them ; but Aaron held his peace :" Lev. x. 2, 3.-Eli, in similar circumstances, silenced his heart with this single but sufficient consideration, 6 It is the Lord :" 1 Sam, iii. 18.-David, under a stroke which he declares consumed him, observes, “I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, because thou didst it:" Ps. xxxix. 9.-And Job, when stript of every comfort, blessed the name of him who took away, as well as gave: Job, i. 21.-Whatever be the nature of your calamity, may it be attended with such an humble and child-like spirit as these holy men possessed !
But the Sovereign Disposer is also the COMPASSIONATE FATHER. Among other instances of his tenderness, you may have observed the peculiar supports which he affords under peculiar trials. Let us mark and acknowledge the hand, which mingles mercy with judgment, and alleviation with distress. The parents I have just mentioned lost their children under circumstances far more distressing than yours. The desire of your eyes (if not the idol of your heart) was, perhaps, almost a stranger : you strove hard to detain it, but He, who took the young children into his arms and blessed them, took yours; and, taking it, seemed to say, 66. What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter:' (John xiii. 7.) Patiently' suffer this little one to come unto me, for of such is my kingdom' composed : (Matt. xix. 14.). "Verily I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my father !' (Matt. xviii. 10.) If I take away your child, I take it to myself. Is not this infinitely beyond any thing you could do for it ? Could you say to it, if it had lived, Thou shalt 'weep no more: the days of thy mourning are ended ? (Isa. xxx. 19.) Could you show it any thing in this world like the glory of God,
and of the lamb ? (Rev. xxii. 3.) Could you raise it to any honour here like 'receiving a crown of life ?!” James i. 12.
The voice of a 'Father of mercies and a God of all comfort, (2 Cor. i. 3,) speaks as distinctly in the death as in the birth of an infant. A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping : Rachel, weeping for her children, refused to be comforted, because they were not. Thus saith the Lord, Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears, for there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border:' Jer. xxxi. 15, 16. "It is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones should perish : Matt. xviii. 14.
It is a pious friend that has just yielded up his breath? The same voice seems to say, “Turn from him :" or, rather, “Turn from his 'clay,' his faded garment.' - He himself is taken from the evil to come: he is entered into peace :'" Isa. Ivii. 1, 2.
When the able Minister, the exemplary Parent, or the faithful Partner depart, a consternation often seizes the circles which they blessed. We are so stunned by the sudden blow, or so occupied with the distressing circumstances, that we scarcely can hear God saying, « Fear not, I, even I, am he that comforteth you: Isa. li. 12. I, your Father, am yet alive. I gave you your departed friend. I sent every benefit which was conveyed through him. Trust me for blessings yet in store. Trust me with him, and with yourselves."
Whatever notions one who lives without God in the world may form of dying, We should learn from his word to regard the departure of the just merely as a Translation ;-a change, in which nothing is lost which is really valuable. As surely as we believe