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ON THE DEATH OF HIS
[* *] MY DEAR SIR,
October, 1st 1835. I
HEARD some weeks ago, with deep concern,
that your brother was an invalid, and my mind was prepared for serious apprehensions; but as I had no idea that he was so soon to close the scene, I cannot tell you how much the sad intelligence conveyed in your letter, startled and distressed me. We are human beings, and we naturally grieve when even the least of our comforts are taken from us; what then, under such a bereavement as this, must be the poignancy of your sorrow?
Your brother's character was beautiful in the extreme. I had the means beyond those which most persons enjoyed of estimating his worth ; and I affectionately loved him. In the sunshine and in the shade, in weal and in woe, he was the same, always sincere, always ingenuous, always kind. None of his fellow creatures were so fallen or in so low a condition as to be beneath his sympathy; he was never weary of speaking the words of peace and encouragement to the unhappy.
You have reason to be deeply grateful for having had such a brother: and amidst your tears and your regrets, you can dwell with a melancholy delight on the remembrance of what he was,
,-on his habitual, his earnest piety, on his strength of principle, on his serene and heavenly temper, on the rich endowments of his mind, and on those noiseless, unobtrusive, meek and gentle virtues with which he adorned his Christian profession, and which won their way, and made him inexpressibly dear, to the hearts of all who knew him.
You cannot but be soothed by the consciousness of having invariably treated him with more than a brother's respect and tenderness; for “there is a comfort in the strength of love." His hours of pain and weakness are now over; he has crossed the gloomy stream. He “ died in the full assurance of hope.” For him the final conflict had no terrors; he had overcome the fear of death; he could view the grave as an entrance to the light of eternal day. Some wise and eminent Christians have found this to be a difficult task. It is related of Bishop Butler, the author of “ The Analogy,” that in his last hours he said to his chaplain, “Though I have endeavoured to avoid sin and to please God to the utmost of my power, yet in the consciousness of perpetual infirmity, I am still afraid to die.” “My Lord,” observed the chaplain, “you forget that Jesus Christ is the Saviour.” “ * True,” was the answer, “ but how shall I know that he is a Saviour for me?" “My Lord,” rejoined the chaplain, it is written, • Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.'
True,” said the bishop, his countenance brightening as he spoke," and I am surprised that, though I have read that Scripture a thousand times, I never felt its value till this moment, and now I die happy."
It has been your lot, my dear Sir, in a compara
tively short space of time to follow to the tomb in succession those who were long the objects of your warmest earthly gratitude and affection, the dear companions of your path, the pride and the solace of your home. Your trials have indeed been severe ; but I am sure I need not remind you of the domestic comforts, unspeakably precious, which still remain to you, or of the animating hopes which believers in the gospel are permitted to indulge. We are not left to wander in uncertainty as to a life to come; it is no longer a conjecture or a vague desire. Immortality is the glorious discovery of Jesus Christ, and did his gospel contain no other truth, this alone would be sufficient to cast into the shade and reduce to comparative nothingness all that science and philosophy have ever been able to achieve. The proof of it, moreover, is suited to every understanding.
The graves of all his saints He blest,
And soften'd every bed ;
But with their dying Head ?*
Ever affectionately and sincerely yours,
TO A FRIEND IN VERY DEEP
(REV. J. ALLEN.]
a sincere friend to offer you his sympathies, and to condole with you in this season of deep distress. I would, if possible, say something that may assuage the anguish of your grief. Do not, I entreat you, refuse to receive consolation, nor sink under the burden which your Heavenly Father has aid upon you. Do not say, “ My sorrow is greater than I can bear.” Pray unto God earnestly, humbly pray, that he would sustain you and comfort you; and doubt not that your prayer will be answered. He looks upon you with tender compassion and love, and waiteth to be gracious unto you.
Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace.” —“Cast your cares on him, for he careth for you.” -Yes, as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.” Let your afflictions draw you near to him, your best, your all-sufficient, your never-failing friend. Let him be the object of your supreme affection, and of your unbounded trust :
That friend who never fails the just,
Though other friends betray their trust. He has indeed grievously afflicted you ; lover and friend has he put far from you, and your ac
quaintance into darkness;" and in deep anguish, you are ready to exclaim; “ Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, 0 ye, my friends! for the hand of God hath touched me.” Your friends do, indeed, pity you; but they are anxious that you should do what is right. Is there no danger lest you
should indulge your feelings too far; and by abandoning yourself to despair, not only lose the benefits which your afflictions are designed to produce, but displease that righteous and all-perfect Being, who, in his mysterious providence, has seen fitonce and again to disappoint your youthful hopes ? Oh, do not, my friend, allow yourself to question, for one moment, the rectitude, and wisdom, and kindness,-yes, the kindness of all his ways. Bow with meekness before him; or, as it is expressed in the words of inspiration, “ Humble thyself under the mighty hand of God, and he will exalt thee in due time.”
I do not ask you not to weep. Religion does not require you to lay this restraint upon your feelings. Your heart would break, should you not weep. Jesus wept; and his example we may safely follow. I am sensible that you have cause to weep, that your grief is very great, almost insupportable. But do not shut your heart against the consolations of Christianity. That same compassionate Saviour who wept at the tomb of his friend, and who “ hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows,”-still lives, and his tender heart still feels for us. He feels for you, and proffers you his sympathy and aid in this hour of darkness. To you those charming words are addressed; “ Come unto me all ye who are weary