Martha Noyes Williams.

Voices from the silent land; or, Leaves of consolation for the afflicted online

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view as a gilded shadow.

Is the grave to be ere long my dwelling? How
can I regard pleasure and gratification as my chief
good? How can I be anxious to adorn the body
with fashion and finery ? I think on the grave, and
I am compelled to own that I act a most unworthy
part if I allow, for a moment, the lust of the flesh,
and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, to be
my masters.

Is the grave to be ere long my dwelling ? Then
let me look to things that survive the desolation of
the grave. The immaterial soul is to act its part in
an imperishable world, where it will be rich or poor,
glorious or degraded, happy or miserable, forever.
The body shall slumber in the grave for a season,
but the soul is immortal. It is, then, my wisdom to
love, and seek, and esteem, and pursue those things
which will never decay ; over which death and the
grave have no dominion ; that I may be rich, and
happy, yea, blessed forevermore.

• • • • •

my soul ! let me often meditate on the grave.
There, indeed, thou wilt not enter ; for when the frail
dust lodges there, thou wilt be in another world. Let
thy attention, then, be faithfully given to the gospel
of Christ, to the great things of religion, that it may
be well with thee. Strive to live more and more as
one who is to live here only for a little time, and
who is to live in another state forever. In the
strength of divine grace rise more above the world ;


rise more above the hostile power of flesh and blood ;
rise higher towards thy God and Savior, and things
invisible ; press nearer to them. Then thou mayst
view the brevity of time, the decay of nature, and the
triumph of the grave, with dignified serenity ; for
eternal life is thy inheritance.

O blessed and glorious God, the Author of all good,
enable me not only to meditate on serious things, but
also to profit by my meditations on them. Enable
me, by the grace of thy Holy Spirit, so to believe
and live, that I may go down to the grave in sure and
certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life, through
the mediation and intercession of Jesus Christ, our
only Lord and Savior. Amen.


Charlotte Elizabeth.

" Stop," says the crumbling monument of by-gone
generations, — "stop, passenger, and mark me. Here
lies a brother of your race ; I show you precisely
where he was laid under the sod. Pig, now, even
to the centre, in quest of the frame so fearfully and
wonderfully made. Search, sift every handful of earth
as you cast it forth, you shall not find a vestige of my
charge. All is resolved into the parent element, be-
yond the power of your keenest investigation to sep-
arate or discern the one from the other. Yet read


me again. Here lies tliat mortal ; and hence lie shall
again come forth, in a moment, in the twinkling of an
eye, at the last trump. What you toss around you is
the corruptible that must put on incorruption ; the
mortal that must put on immortality. Go learn from
my defaced surface a lesson of faith : ' Blessed are
they which believe, yet see not.'"


John Bethune.

Ah me ! this is a sad and silent city :
Let me walk softly o'er it, and survey

Its grassy streets with melancholy pity.

Where are its children? where their gleesome

Alas ! their cradled rest is cold and deep, —

Their playthings are thrown by, and they asleep.

This is pale beauty's bourn : but where the beautiful
Whom I have seen come forth at evening's hours,

Leading their aged friends, with feelings dutiful,
Amid the wreaths of spring, to gather flowers ?

Alas ! no flowers are here but flowers of death.

And those who once were sweetest sleep beneath.

This is a populous place : but where the bustling, —
The crowded buyers of the noisy mart, —



The lookers on, — the snowy garments rustling, —

The money changers, — and the men of art ?
Business, alas ! hath stopped in mid career,
And none are anxious to resume it here.

This is the home of grandeur : where are they —
The rich, the great, the glorious, and the wise ?

Where are the trappings of the proud, the gay —
The gaudy guise of human butterflies ?

Alas ! all lowly lies each lofty brow.

And the green sod dizens their beauty now.

This is a place of refuge and repose :

Where are the poor, the old, the weary Avight,

The scorned, the humble, and the man of woes,
Who wept for morn, and sighed again for night ?

Their sighs at last have ceased, and here they sleep

Beside their scorners, *and forget to weep.

This is a place of gloom : where are the gloomy ?

The gloomy are not citizens of death :
Approach and look where the long grass is plumy ;

See them above ; they are not found beneath ;
For these low denizens, with artful wiles,
Nature, in flowers, contrives her mimic smiles.

This is a place of sorrow : friends have met

And mingled tears o'er those who answered not.

And where are they whose eyelids then were wet ?
Alas ! their griefs, their tears, are all forgot :

They, too, are landed in this silent city,

Where there is neither love, nor tears, nor pity.


This is a place of fear : the firmest eye

Hath quailed to see its shadowy dreariness ;

But Christian hope, and heavenly prospects high,
And earthly cares, and nature's weariness,

Have made the timid pilgrim cease to fear,

And long to end his painful journey here.


Rev. Henry Melvill.

It is not a Christian thing to die manifesting indif-
ference as to what is done with the body. That body
is redeemed : not a particle of its dust but was bought
with drops of Christ's precious blood. That body is
appointed to a glorious condition : not a particle of
the corruptible but what shall put on incorruption ; of
the mortal that shall not assume immortality. The
Christian knows this ; it is not the part of a Christian
to seem unmindful of this. He may, therefore, as he
departs, speak of the place where he would wish to
be laid. " Let me sleep," he may say, " with my father
and my mother, with my wife and my children : lay
me not here, in this distant land, where my dust can-
not mingle with its kindred. I would be chimed to
my grave by my own village bell, and have my
requiem sung where I was baptized in Christ." Mar-
vel ye at such last words? Wonder ye that one
whose spirit is just entering the separate state should

62 G0I)'S-ACRE.

have this care for tlie body which he is about to
leave to the worms ? Nay, he is a believer in Jesus
as " the resurrection and the life ; " this belief prompts
his dying words ; and it shall have to be said of him,
as of Joseph, that " by faith " yea, " by faith," he " gave
commandment concerning his bones."


H. W. Longfellow.

I LIKE the ancient Saxon phrase, which calls
The burial ground God's-Acre. It is just ;

It consecrates each grave within its walls,
And breathes a benison o'er the sleeping dust.

God's- Acre ! Yes, that blessed name imparts
Comfort to those who in the grave have sown

The seed that they had garnered in their hearts,
Their bread of life, alas ! no more their own.

Into its furrows shall we all be cast,

In the sure faith that we shall rise again

At the great harvest, when th' archangel's blast
Shall winnow, like a fan, the chaff and grain.

Then shall the good stand in immortal bloom
In the fair gardens of that second birth ;

And each bright blossom mingle its perfume
With that of flowers which never bloomed on earth.


With tliy rude ploughshare, Death, turn up the sod,
And spread the furrow for the seed we sow ;

This is the field and Acre of our God —

This is the place where human harvests grow.


Henry Vaughan.

They are all gone into a world of light,

And I alone sit lingering here ;
Their very memory is fair and bright,

And my sad thoughts doth clear.

It glows and glitters in my cloudy breast
Like stars upon some gloomy grove,

Or those faint beams in which the hill is dressed
After the sun's remove.

I see them walking in an air of glor}^,

"Whose light doth trample on my days —

My days which are at best but dull and hoary,
Mere glimmerings and decays.

O, holy hope, and high humility —

High as the heavens above !
These are your walks, and ye have showed them me,

To kindle my cold love.



Dear, "beauteous Death — the jewel of the just —

Shining nowhere but in the dark ;
What mysteries do lie beyond thy dust,

Could man outlook that mark !

He that hath found some fledged bird's nest may

At first sight if the bird be flown ;
But what fair field or grove he sings in now,

That is to him unknown.

And yet as angels, in some brighter dreams,
Call to the soul, when man doth sleep,

So some strange thoughts transcend our wonted
And into glory peep.



In each season of affliction, to whom can we more
appropriately look than to Jesus? He was preem-
inently the man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.
If you would tell your grief to one who knew grief
as none ever knew it ; if you would weep upon the
bosom of one who wept as none ever wept ; if you
would disclose your sorrow to one who sorrowed as


none ever sorrowed ; if you would bare your wound
to one who was wounded as none ever was wounded,
— then, in your affliction, turn from all creature sympa-
thy and succor, and look to Jesus: to a kinder nature,
to a tenderer bosom, to a deeper love, to a more pow-
erful arm, to a more sympathizing friend, you could
not take your trial, your affliction, and your sorrow.
He is prepared to imbosom himself in your deepest
grief, and to make your circumstances all his own.
So completely and personally is he one with you, that
nothing can affect you that does not instantly touch
him. . . . God's family is a sorrowing family. " I
have chosen thee," he says, " in the furnace of afflic-
tion." " I will leave in the midst of thee a poor and
an afflicted people." The history of the church finds
its fittest emblem in the burning, yet unconsumed,
bush which Moses saw. Man is " born to sorrow ; "
but the believer is ^^ appointed thereunto." It would
seem to be a condition inseparable from his high call-
ing. If he is a " chosen vessel," it is in the " furnace
of affliction." If he is an adopted child, " chastening "
is the mark. If he is journeying to the heavenly
kingdom, his path lies through "much tribulation."
But if his sufferings abound, much more so do his
consolations. To be comforted by God may well
reconcile us to any sorrow with which it may
please our heavenly Father to invest us. . . .
Go and breathe your sorrows into God's heart, and
he will comfort you. Blessed sorrow if, in the time
of your bereavement, your grief, and your solitude,
you are led to Jesus, making him your Savior, your
Friend, your Counsellor, and your Shield. Blessed


loss, if it be compensated by a knowledge of God, if
you find in him a Father now, to whom you will
transfer your ardent affections, upon whom you will
repose your bleeding heart, and in whom you will


Home Journal.

'Tis something very sad
To place our hand in Memory's, and retrace
With her the paths that trailing years have worn,
And, in green spots which she shall point us out,
Pause to recount who sat beside us there,
And listen while she tells us of the Hours
That trooped before us, hand in hand with Joy,
When we, too, joined the mirthful revellers,
And thought — if thought, indeed, would sometimes

come —
Of life as all one sunbright holiday.
How vividly they seem to stand again —
Those dear companions of my morning time —
In the familiar places ! How I hear
Their silvery laughter, like the chime of bells,
Ringing the harmonies of happy hearts !
The youth, with flushing cheek, and kindling eye,
And form and mien of manliest dignity ;
The graceful girl, with brow most eloquent
Of love and beauty ; pensive womanhood,


And buoyant, bright-haired children. Eagerly
I turn to clasp them, but they melt away,
And, phantom-like, all vanish ; and I find
'Twas but a mirage memory had evoked.
To taunt my longing vision. Deeper, then,
And with an aching sense too real, comes
Back to my heart that saddest consciousness,
That rnily thus can I behold again
The sweet-remembered faces that are gone.

Mysteriously a dread and unseen hand

Cuts at a blow the thousand golden cords

Whose twisting Love had labored at for years.

And they who seemed a portion of ourselves —

Who sat with us beside the household hearth.

And at the cheerful board, — who had no joy

Or sorrow that we knew not of, — are snatched

Forever from our sight ; and we are left,

Amid our blinding tears, to gather up

The shattered threads that were so powerless

To fasten down to earth the subtile soul.

They have no room for grief, regret, or pain j

Seraph capacity of thought is theirs,

And God and glory overwhelm it all.

The rupture and the agony are ours,

Who, in our human weakness, oft forget.

Or fail to follow, with an eye of faith.

The joyous spirit in its skyward flight ;

But weep with an absorbing grief around

The empty cage of clay. Yet even then

Gleams forth, with iris beauty, through the storm,

This blessed hope — that all these broken ties


Shall be rejoined again ; that we shall meet,
And have the seal of immortality
Set to our love by God's own sovereign hand,
Who thus shall weave these golden, earthly threads
Into the garments that we wear above.

*' Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what
it is ; that I may know how frail I am. Behold, thou hast made my days
as a hand breadth, and mine age is as nothing before thee." — Psalm

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there
is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor -s^isdom, in the grave whither
thou goest."— ECCLESIASTES is.


Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

All are not taken ; there are left behind

Living beloveds, tender looks to bring,

And make the daylight still a blessed thing,

And tender voices, to make soft the wind ;

But if it were not so, — if I could find

No love in all the world to answer me,

Nor any pathway but rang hollowly,

Where " dust to dust " the love from life disjoined,

And if with parched lips, as in a dearth

Of water springs the very deserts claim,

I uttered to those sepulchres unmoving

The bitter cry, " Where are ye, my loving ? "

I know a voice would sound, Daughter, I am !

Can I suffice for Heaven, and not for earth ?



St. Basil.

It is the command of God not to lament the dead,
in the faith of Christ, because of the hope of the
resurrection, and that there are great crowns laid up
for great patience. If we suffer reason to sing these
things in our ears, we may find some moderate end
of this evil ; and therefore I exhort thee, as a gen-
erous combatant, to fortify thyself against the heav-
iness of this stroke, and not lie down under the
weight of sorrow. Being persuaded, that though the
reason of God's dispensations are out of our reach,
yet we ought entirely to accept that which is ordered
by one so wise and loving, although it be heavy and
grievous to be borne ; for he knows how to appoint
to every one what is profitable, and why he hath set
unequal terms to our life. The cause is incomprehen-
sible by us, why some are carried away sooner, and
others tarry longer in this toilsome and miserable life ;
so that we ought, in all things, to adore his loving
kindness, and not to take any thing ill at his hands,
remembering the great and famous voice of Job, who,
when he heard that his ten children were all struck
dead in one moment, said, " The Lord gave, the Lord
hath taken away : as it pleased the Lord, so it is come
to pass." Let us make this admirable language our


own. They are rewarded, with an equal recompense,
by the just Judge, who perform the same worthy ac-
tions. We are not robbed of a friend, but only have
restored him to the Lender ; nor is his life extinct, but
only translated to a better. The earth doth not cover
our beloved, but heaven hath received him : let us
tarry a while, and we shall be in his company.

" But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord : he is their strength
in the time of trouble. And the Lord shall help them ; he shall deliver
them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him." —
Psalm xxxvii.


Mary E. Lee,

" O LA vita ! la morte !
Belle e dolce morir, fee certo allora,
Che amante in vita, amato in morte.


The dead ! the much-loved dead !

Who doth not yearn to know
The secret of their dwelling-place,

And to what land they go ?
What heart but asks, with ceaseless tone,
For some sure knowledge of its own ?

We cannot blot them out

From memory's written page ;


We cannot count them strangers ; but,

As birds in prison cage,
We beat against the iron bar
That keeps us from these friends afar.

Oblivion may not hang

Its curtain o'er their grave ;
There is no water we can sip,

Like Lethe's lulling wave.
But fond affection's moaning wail
Breaks from us like the autumn gale.

Grkf cannot win them back ;

And yet, with frequent tear,
We question of their hidden lot,

And list, with throbbing ear.
For some low answer that may roll
Through the hushed temple of the soul.

We love them — love them yet !

But is our love returned ?
Is memory's hearth now cold and dark

Where once the heart-fire burned ?
Nor do the laborers now gone home
Look for the wearv ones to come ?

We wrong them by the thought.

Affections cannot die :
Man is still man, where'er he goes —

And 0, how strong the tie
Which links us, as with fetters fast,
Unto the future and the past !


Death would be dark indeed,
If, with this mortal shroud,

We threw off all the sympathies
That in our being crowd.

And entered on the spirit land

A stranger, 'mid a stranger band.

Far pleasanter to think

That each familiar face
JYow gazes on us, as of old,

From its mysterious place.
With love that neither death nor change
Hath power to sever or estrange.

0, who will dare to say,

" This is an idle dream " ?
Who, that hath given one captive dove

To soar by its own stream,
But fancies that its breathings low
Float round them wheresoe'er they go ?

Mother ! couldst thou endure

To think thyself forgot
By her, who was thy life, thy air.

The sunbeam of thy lot ?
Wouldst thou not live in doubt and fear,
If all thy bright hopes perished here ?

And brother ! sister ! child !

Ye all have loved the light
Of many a dearly-cherished one,

Now taken from your sight ;


And can ye deem that, when ye meet,
Hearts will not hold communion sweet ?

Alas ! if it be so,

That in the burial urn
The soul must garner up the love

That once did in it burn —
Better to know not of the worth
Of true affection on this earth ;

Better to live alone,

Unblessing and unblest,
Than thus to meet and mingle thought —

Than from the immortal breast
Shut out the memory of the past.
Like daybeams from a forest vast.

0, no ; it cannot be !

Ye, the long lost of years,
'Mid all the changes of this life,

Its thousand joys and fears.
We love to think that round ye move,
Making an atmosphere of love.

Ye are not dead to us ;

But as bright stars unseen.
We hold that ye are ever near,

Though death intrudes between,
Like some thin cloud, that veils from

The countless spangles of the night.


Your influence is still felt

In many a varied hour ;
The dewy morn brings thoughts of you ;

Ye give the twilight power ;
And when the Sabbath sunshine rests
On your white tombs, ye fill our breasts.

No apathy hath struck

Its ice bolt through our hearts ;

Yours are among our household names ;
Your memory ne'er departs ;

And far, far sweeter are the flowers

Ye planted in our favored bowers.

" When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee ; and
through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee : when thou Avalkest
through the fire, thou shalt not be burned ; neither shall the flame kin-
dle upon thee." — Isaiah xliii.



Even the days of tribulation have their sweet and
pleasing intervals, which they bring disguised under
the gloomy mantle of sorrow, whilst other days pre-
sent them to us openly and in festive attire ; and al-
though such seasons cause distress, yet they are like
vernal storms, which open the springs and cause them

THE spirit's land. 65

to flow. They are the days in which the spices of
the divine promises yield their perfume ; and when
a resurrection breath pervades the graves of the
prophets of God, then these ancient and hoary com-
forters express themselves audibly to us, and their feet
are beautiful upon the mountains. A number of pas-
sages, which in brighter days were either unheeded or
unappreciated, burn now in our hemisphere, as blissful
and wondrous luminaries. Openings and peaceful
retreats are discovered in the temple of the Scriptures,
of which we had previously no idea. The spirit cele-
brates blissful and paradisiacal festivities ; and often
while the soul is lying in profound sorrow, or the flesh
writhing in the glowing crucible, the mind rejoices
that the refiner is near.


Author of Selwin.

0, BEAUTEOUS are the forms that stand
Beyond death's dusky wave,

And beckon to the spirit's land,
Across the narrow grave !

No damp is on the freed one's brow,

No dimness in his eye ;
The dews of heaven refresh him now,

The fount of light is nigh.

66 THE spirit's land.

The parent souls that o'er our bed
Oft poured the midnight prayer,

Now wonder where their cares are fled,
And calmly wait us there.

The dearer still — the close intwined

With bands of roseate hue ;
"We thought them fair ; but now we find

Twas but their shade we knew.

'Tis sweet, when o'er the earth unfurled
Spring's verdant banners wave,

To think how fair yon upper world,
Which knows no wintry grave.

'Tis sweet, when tempests earth deform,
And whirlwinds sweep the sky,

To know a haven from the storm
When worlds themselves must die ;

To know that they in safety rest.

The tranquil barks of those
Who, soaring on life's billowy crest.

Attained to heaven's repose ;

To know that brethren fondly wait

Our mansion to prepare ;
That death but opes that mansion's gate,

And lo ! our souls are there !



J. Aldrich.

Her sufferings ended with the day ;

Yet lived she at its close,
And breathed the long, long night away,

In statue-like repose.

But when the sun, in all his state,

Illumed the eastern skies,
She passed through Glory's morning gate,

And walked in paradise !


Rev. M. Henry.

Our friends who have left us — where are they?
Not lost, not perished. We are sure that to them,
to whom to live it was Christ, to die will be gain.
Where are they? They are where they are perpet-
ually and perfectly blessed in the immediate vision
and enjoyment of God, within the veil ; infinitely
more happy where they are than where they were.


Where are they ? Why, they are in the mansions of light
and bliss, that are in our Father's house above, in the
paradise of God, where they hunger no more, nor thirst
any more. They are in the best company, employed
in the best work, and enjoying a complete satisfaction.
Where are they ? AVhy, they are where there are no
complaints ; nothing to interrupt their communion with
God, or cast a damp upon their spirits. Death has
done that for them which ordinances could not do ;
has perfectly freed them from that, body of sin and
death which was here their constant burden, and hath
set them forever out of the reach of temptation.
The spirits of the just are there made perfect, beyond
the perfection of Adam in innocency, for they are
immutably confirmed in it. Where are they? Why,
they are where they would be — in their centre, in
their element. They are where they longed to be — in

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Online LibraryMartha Noyes WilliamsVoices from the silent land; or, Leaves of consolation for the afflicted → online text (page 3 of 14)