9. The House of Mourning

 •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Listen from:
Soon shall the cup of glory
Wash down earth’s bitterest woes,
Soon shall the desert-briar
Break into Eden’s rose:
The curse shall change to blessing―
The name on earth that’s bann’d,
Be graven on the white stone
In Immanuel’s land.
“The ransomed of the Lord... shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” —Isa. 35:10
“God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying.” —Rev. 21:4
The Loss of a Child
Faith will teach you to kiss a striking Lord; and so acknowledge the sovereignty of God (in the death of a child) to be above the power of us mortal men, who may pluck up a flower in the bud and not be blamed for it. If our dear Lord pluck up one of His roses, and pull down sour and green fruit before harvest, who can challenge Him? For He sendeth us to His world, as men to a market, wherein some stay many hours, and eat and drink, and buy and sell, and pass through the fair, till they be weary; and such are those who live long, and get a heavy fill of this life. And others again come slipping in to the morning market, and do neither sit nor stand, nor buy nor sell, but look about them a little, and pass presently home again; and these are infants and young ones, who end their short market in the morning, and get but a short view of the fair. Our Lord, who hath numbered man’s months, and set him bounds that he cannot pass, hath written the length of our market, and it is easier to complain of the decree than to change it.
Believe that he is not gone away, but sent before; and that the change of the country should make you think, that he is not lost to you who is found to Christ, and that he is now before you; and that the dead in Christ shall rise again. A going-down star is not annihilated, but shall appear again. If he hath casten his bloom and flower, the bloom is fallen in heaven, into Christ’s lap. And as he was lent a while to time, so he is given now to eternity, which will take yourself. The difference of your shipping and his to heaven and Christ’s shore, the land of life, is only in some few years, which weareth every day shorter; and some short and soon-reckoned summers will give you a meeting with him.... If death were a sleep that had no wakening, we might sorrow.... He breweth your cup: therefore, drink it patiently and with the better will. Stay and wait on, till Christ loose the knot that fasteneth His cross on your back; for He is coming to deliver. And I pray you, learn to be worthy of His pains who correcteth. And let Him wring and be ye washen; for He hath a Father’s heart, and a Father’s hand, who is training you up, and making you meet for the high hall. This school of suffering is a preparation for the King’s higher house; and let all your visitations speak all the letters of your Lord’s summons. They cry― “O vain world!” “O bitter sin!” “O short and uncertain time!” “O fair eternity that is above sickness of death!” “O kingly and princely Bridegroom, hasten glory’s marriage, shorten time’s short-spun and soon-broken thread, and conquer sin!” ... And the Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!” and answer ye with them, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus! come quickly!”
The Loss of a Daughter
Think her not absent who is in such a friend’s house. Is she lost to you who is found to Christ? If she were with a dear friend, although you should never see her again, your care for her would be but small. Oh, now, is she not with a dear Friend? and gone higher, upon a certain hope that ye shall, in the Resurrection, see her again.... You would be sorry either to be, or to be esteemed, an atheist; and yet, not I, but the Apostle, thinketh those to be hopeless atheists who mourn excessively for the dead.... Follow her, but envy her not; for indeed it is self-love in us that maketh us mourn for them that die in the Lord. Take heed, then, that in showing your affection in mourning for your daughter, ye be not, out of self-affection mourning for yourself.... Your daughter is plucked out of the fire, and she resteth from her labors; and your Lord, in that, is trying you, and casteth you in the fire. Go through all fire to your rest.... While ye prodigally spend time in mourning for her, ye are speedingly posting after her. Run with patience your race. Let God have His own; and ask of Him, instead of your daughter which He hath taken from you, the daughter of faith, which is patience; and in patience possess your soul. Lift up your head: ye do not know how near your redemption doth draw.
As I have heard of the death of your daughter with heaviness of mind on your behalf, so am I much comforted that she hath evidenced to yourself and other witnesses the hope of the resurrection of the dead.... Though we cannot outrun nor overtake them that are gone before, yet we shall quickly follow them; and the difference is, that she hath the advantage of some months or years of the crown before you and her mother. As we do not take it ill if our children outrun us in the life of grace, why then are we sad if they outstrip us in the attainment of the life of glory? It would seem that there is more reason to grieve that children live behind us, than that they are glorified and die before us. All the difference is in some poor hungry accidents of time, less or more, sooner or later.... Ye would have lent her to glorify the Lord upon earth, and He hath borrowed her (with promise to restore her again) to be an organ of the immediate glorifying of Himself in heaven. Sinless glorifying of God is better than sinful glorifying of Him.
The Loss of a Son
Dearest brother, go on and faint not. Something of yours is in heaven, beside... your exalted Savior; and ye go on after your own. Time’s thread is shorter by one inch than it was. I make bold, in Christ, to speak my poor thoughts to you concerning your son lately fallen asleep in the Lord.... I know that grace rooteth not out the affections of a mother, but putteth them upon His wheel who maketh all things new, that they may be refined: therefore, sorrow for a dead child is allowed to you, though by measure and ounce-weights.... He commandeth you to weep: and that princely One, who took up to heaven with Him a man’s heart to be a compassionate High Priest, became your fellow and companion on earth by weeping for the dead.... The cup ye drink was at the lip of Jesus, and He drank of it;... and I conceive ye love it not the worse that it is thus sugared. Therefore, drink, and believe the resurrection of your son’s body.... The good Husbandman may pluck His roses, and gather His lilies at midsummer, and, for aught I dare say, in the beginning of the first summer month; and He may transplant young trees out of the lower ground to the higher, where they may have more of the sun, and a more free air, at any season of the year. What is that to you or me? The goods are His own. The Creator of time and winds did a merciful injury (if I dare borrow the word) to nature, in landing the passenger so early. They love the sea too well who complain of a fair wind, and a desirable tide, and a speedy coming ashore in that land where all the inhabitants have everlasting joy upon their heads.
Violent death is a sharer with Christ in His death, which was violent. It maketh not much what way we go to heaven: the happy home is all, where the roughness of the way shall be forgotten. He is gone home to a Friend’s house, and made welcome, and the race is ended: time is recompensed with eternity, and copper with gold.
The Loss of a Mother
It hath seemed good, as I hear, to Him that hath appointed the bounds for the number of our months, to gather in a sheaf of ripe corn, in the death of your Christian mother, into His garner. It is the more evident that winter is near, when apples, without the violence of wind, fall of their own accord off the tree. She is now above the winter, with a little change of place, not of a Savior; only she enjoyeth Him now without messages, and in His own immediate presence, from whom she heard by letters and messengers before. I grant that death is to her a very new thing; but heaven was prepared of old. And Christ (as enjoyed in His highest throne, and as loaded with glory, and incomparably exalted above men and angels...) is to her a new thing, but so new as the first summer-rose, or the first fruits of that heavenly field; or as a new paradise to a traveler, broken and worn out of breath with the sad occurrences of a long and dirty way.... It cost her no more to go thither, than to suffer death to do her this piece of service: for by Him who was dead, and is alive, she was delivered from the second death. What, then, is the first death to the second? Not a scratch of the skin of a finger to the endless second death. And now she sitteth for eternity in a very considerable land, which hath more than four summers in the year. Oh, what springtime is there!... What a singing life is there! There is not a dumb bird in all that large field; but all sing and breathe out heaven, joy, glory, dominion to the high Prince of that newfound land. And, verily, the Land is the sweeter that Jesus Christ paid so dear a rent for it. And He is the glory of the land: all which, I hope, Both not so much mitigate and allay your grief for her part (though truly this should seem sufficient), as the unerring expectation of the dawning of that day upon yourself, and the hope that you have of the fruition of that same King and kingdom to your own soul.
The Loss of a Wife
If the place she hath left were any other than a prison of sin, and the home she is gone to any other than where her Head and Savior is King of the land, your grief had been more rational. But I trust your faith of the resurrection of the dead in Christ to glory and immortality, will lead you to suspend your longing for her, till the morning and dawning of that day when the archangel shall descend with a shout, to gather all the prisoners out of the grave, up to Himself. To believe this is best for you; and to be silent, because He hath done it, is your wisdom.
The Loss of a Husband
It hath pleased the Lord to remove your husband soon to his rest; but shall we be sorry that our loss is his gain, seeing his Lord would want1 his company no longer? Think not much of short summons; for, seeing he walked with his Lord in his life, and desired that Christ should be magnified in him at his death, ye ought to be silent and satisfied.... Know that the wounds of your Lord Jesus are the wounds of a lover, and that He will have compassion upon a sad-hearted servant; and that Christ hath said, He will have the husband’s room in your heart. He loved you in your first husband’s time, and He is but wooing you still. Give Him heart and chair, house and all. He will not be made companion with any other. Love is full of jealousies: He will have all your love; and who should get it but He? I know that ye allow it upon Him. There are comforts both sweet and satisfying laid up for you: wait on.
1. To be deprived of.