Martha Noyes Williams.

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

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that blessed state, towards which, while they were
here, they were still reaching forth and pressing


Park Benjamin.

The departed ! the departed !

They visit us in dreams.
And they glide above our memories

Like shadows over streams ;


But wlicre the cheerful lights of home

In constant lustre burn,
The departed, the departed

Can never more return!

The good, the brave, the beautiful.

How dreamless is their sleep,
Where rolls the dirge-like music

Of the ever-tossing deep !
Or where the surging night winds

Pale winter's robes have spread
Above the narrow palaces,

In the cities of the dead !

I look around, and feel the awe

Of one who walks alone
Among the wrecks of former days,

In mournful ruin strewn ;
I start to hear the stirring sounds

Among the cypress trees,
For the voice of the departed

Is borne upon the breeze.

That solemn voice ! it mingles with

Each free and careless strain ;
I scarce can think earth's minstrelsy

Will cheer my heart again.
The melody of summer waves.

The thrilling notes of birds.
Can never be so dear to me

As their remembered words.



I sometimes dream their pleasant smiles

Still on me sweetly fall,
Their tones of love I faintly hear

My name in sadness call.
I know that they are happy,

With their angel plumage on ;
But my heart is very desolate

To think that they are gone.


Archbishop Leighton.

In private, personal correctings, let us learn to be-
have ourselves meekly and humbly, as the children
of so great and good a Father ; whatsoever he in-
flicts, not to murmur, nor entertain a fretful thought
of it. Besides the undutifulness and unseemliness of
it, how vain is it ! What gain we by struggling, and
casting up our hand to cast off the rod, but the more
lashes ? Our only way is to kneel and fold under his
hands, and kiss his rod, and, even while he is smiting
us, to be blessing him, sending up confessions of his
righteousness, and goodness, and faithfulness, only
entreating for the turning away of his wrath, though
it should be with the continuing of our affliction.
That is here the style of the prophet's prayer — Cor-
rect me, Loi'd, hut not in anger. And according to
this suit, even where troubles arc chastisements for


sin, yet a child of God may find much sweetness, read-
ing much of God's love in so dealing with him, in not
suffering him to grow wanton and forget him, as, in
much ease, even his own children sometimes do. And
as they may find much of God's love to them in sharp
corrections, they may raise and act much of their love
to him in often-repeated resignments and submissions
of themselves, and ready consenting to, yea, rejoicing
in, his good pleasure, even in those things which to
their flesh and sense are most unpleasant.


N. P. Willis.

A SERVANT of the living God is dead I
His errand hath been well and early done,
And early hath he gone to his reward.
He shall come no more forth, but to his sleep
Hath silently lain down, and so shall rest.

Would you bewail our brother ? He hath gone
To Abraham's bosom. He shall no more thirst,
Nor hunger, but forever in the eye.
Holy and meek, of Jesus, he may look,
Unchided, and untempted, and unstained.
Would ye bewail our brother ? He hath gone
To sit down with the prophets by the clear
And crystal waters ; he hath gone to list



Isaiah's liarp and David's, and to walk

With Enoch, and Elijah, and the host

Of the just men made perfect. He shall bow

At Gabriel's hallelujah, and unfold

The scroll of the Apocalypse with John,

And talk of Christ with Mary, and go back

To the last supper, and the garden prayer

With the beloved disciple. He shall hear

The story of the Incarnation told

By Simeon, and the Triune mystery

Burning upon the fervent lips of Paul.

He shall have wings of glory, and shall soar

To the remoter firmaments, and read

The order and the harmony of stars ;

And, in the might of knowledge, he shall bow

In the deep pauses of archangel harps.

And, humble as the seraphim, shall cry.

Who, by his searching, finds thee out, God ?

There shall he meet his children who have gone
Before him ; and as other years roll on.
And his loved flock go up to him, his hand
Again shall lead them gently to the Lamb,
And bring them to the living waters there.

Is it so good to die ? and shall we mourn
That he is taken early to his rest ?
Tell me, — mourner for the man of God, —
Shall we bewail our brother — that he died ?

" As Christ's body, -when it was in the grave, did there rest in hope, so
shall the bodies of the saints, when they lay them down in the dnst : ' My


flesh, also, shall rest in hope,' saith Christ. (Ps. xvi. 9.) In like manner
the saints commit their bodies to the dust in hope : ' The righteous hath
hope in his death.' (Prov. xiv. 32.) And as Christ's hope was not a vain
hope, so neither shall their hope be vain." — Flavel.



As the roots, even of our choicest flowers, when
deposited in the ground, are rude and ungraceful,
but when they spring up into blooming life are most
elegant and splendid, so the flesh of a saint, when
committed to the dust, alas ! what is it ? A heap of
corruption, a mass of putrefying clay. But when it
obeys the great archangel's call, and starts into a new
existence, what an astonishing change ensues ! What
a most ennobling improvement takes place I That
which is sown in weakness was raised in all the
vivacity of power. That which was sown in deformity
is raised in the bloom of celestial beauty. Exalted,
refined, and glorified, it will shine "as the brightness
of the firmament," when it darts the inimitable blue
through the fleeces — the snowy fleeces ^— of some
cleaving cloud. Fear not, then, thou faithful Chris-
tian ; fear not, at the appointed time, to descend into
the tomb. The soul thou mayst trust with thy om-
nipotent Redeemer, who is Lord of the unseen world,
" who has the keys of hell and of death." Most safely



mayst thou trust thy better part in those beneficent
hands, which were pierced with nails, and fastened to
the ignominious tree, for thy salvation. With regard
to thy earthly tabernacle, be not dismayed. It is taken
down only to be rebuilt upon a diviner plan, and in a
more heavenly form. If it retires into the shadow of
death, and lies immured in the gloom of the grave,
it is only to return from a short confinement to endless
liberty. If it falls into dissolution, it is in order to
rise more illustrious from its ruins, and wear an infi-
nitely brighter face of perfection and of glory.



When the hours of day are numbered,
And the voices of the night

Wake the better soul, that slumbered,
To a holy, calm delight ;

Ere the evening lamps are lighted,
And, like phantoms grim and tall,

Shadows from the fitful firelight
Dance upon the parlor wall ;

Then the forms of the departed
Enter at the open door ;


The beloved, the true-hearted,
Come to visit me once more.

He, the young and strong, who cherished

Noble longings for the strife.
By the roadside fell and perished,

Weary with the march of life.

They, the holy ones and weakly.

Who the cross of suffering bore,
Folded their pale hands so meekly,

Spake with us on earth no more.

And with them the being beauteous,

Who unto my youth was given,
More than all things else, to love me,

And is now a saint in heaven.

With a slow and noiseless footstep

Comes that messenger divine.
Takes the vacant chair beside me,

Lays her gentle hand in mine.

And she sits and gazes at me

With those deep and tender eyes.

Like the stars so still and saint-like,
Looking downward from the skies.

Uttered not, yet comprehended,
• Is the spirit's voiceless prayer,
Soft rebukes, in blessings ended,
Breathing from her lips of air.


0, though oft depressed and lonely,
All my fears are laid aside,

If I but remember only

Such as these have lived and died.


S. Wells Williams.

If it be not all of life to live here, and this life be
rather a night than a life, as Paul calls it, then is your
brother alive rather than dead. He has gone through
l^^Hkm night, and now sees the day, the daystar, the sun,
the temple, and holy city, which needeth no sun or
moon — and we should rejoice. He has burst those
goodly walls in which he was so stoutly ensconced,
and is now at large in the plains and pastures, where
the good Shepherd, leading his flock beside the still
waters, gives them such aliment as we could not
stomach ; teaches them such mysteries as we could
not fathom ; rejoices them with such entertainments
as would make us heady, and rewards them with him-
self. I was greatly refreshed with your account of
his sickness and death ; for such testimonials cheer us
onward through the days appointed to us. That you

should mourn the departure of G is proper ; for

the sweet intercourse you had can be had no- more;
the mutual counsel and assistance can be no longer
afforded ; and all those grateful favors, which bind us


SO close to each other, are ended. Death is the worse
in such cases for the living ; and our loss seems the
greater for the vividness with which memory retouches
the incidents, places, and scenes connected with tlie
departed. Thus the recital you have given of your
brother's sickness has tinted the remembrance of the

past months, spent so sunnily in your house in ,

with a brighter halo than before, because now I can
hope, and do hope, to pass more joyous ones with him
and you where sins and doubts cannot come.


H. VV. Rockwell.

I KNOW thou art gone to the land of the blest ;

Thou art gone to heaven's beautiful shore,
Where the heavy laden of earth are at rest,

And the wicked shall trouble no more.
Thou art gone to a land more lovely than this,

By the footsteps of angel bands trod,
And the trials of life thou'st exchanged for the

That abides in the presence of God.

We have wept o'er the sod that grows green on thy
Where Morning, with eyes full of tears,


Weeps her dew in the wild flowers, whose beautiful

Seems most like the bloom of thy years.
A few days of sunshine, and then comes the blast

That fills the sad woods with its moan —
Tl>e bloom from the cheek and the blossom is past,

And the spirit forever is flown.

Thou art happy now. We would not call thee back

From thy home on that beautiful shore.
But patiently tread life's wearisome track.

Until life and its sorrows are o'er.
Then, this painful dream ended, we'll meet thee at

In the beautiful land of the blest,
And forget all the trials and woes of the past

In the pleasures of infinite rest.

The soft winds shall sigh o'er thy dreamless sleep.

And the chirp of the merry bird.
At the shut of day, 'mid the twilight deep,

By the place of thy rest shall be heard.
Sweet odors that breathe from yon forests of pine.

Shall waft in the breeze from the glen ;
But the love that once woke in that bosom of thine

Shall ne'er be awakened again !

We could not call thee back ! no ; soft be thy

And green be the turf o'er thy head !
'Twere better by far for the living to weep.

Than to mourn o'er the lot of the dead.


Thou art happy and blest 'mid that holy band
That look from heaven's beautiful shore.

Bear us, ye angels, to that sweet land,
When life and its sorrows are o'er.

" Christianity teaches us to moderate our passions ; to temper our
affections towards all things below ; to be thankful for the possession,
and patient under loss, whenever He who gave shall see fit to take away."
— Sir Wm. Temple.


Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

When some beloveds, 'neath whose eyelids lay
The sweet light of my childhood, one by one
Did leave me dark before the natural sun,

And I astonied fell, and could not pray,

A thought within me to myself did say,

" Is God less God that thou art mortal-sad ?
Rise, worship, bless him ! in this sackcloth clad

As in that purple I " — But I answer, Nay I
What child his filial heart in words conveys.

If him for very good his father choose

To smite ? What can he, but, with sobbing breath,
Embrace th' unwilling hand which chasteneth ? —

And my dear Father, thinking fit to bruise.
Discerns in silent tears both prayer and praise.

" If you be afflicted, join prayer with your correction, and beg by it
that God would join, his spirit with it. Seek this in earnest, else you
shall be not a whit the better, but shall still endure the smart, and not


reap the fruit thereof. Rejoice in Him who faUs not, who alters not. He
is still the same in himself, and to the sense of the soul that is knit to
him, is then sweetest when the world is bitterest. When other comforts
are withdrawn, the loss of them brings this great gain, so much the more
of God and his love imparted, to make all up. They that ever found
this could almost msh for things that others are afraid of. If we knew
how to improve them, his sharpest visits would be his sweetest: thou
wouldst be glad to catch a kiss of his hand while he is beating thee, or
pulUng away something from thee that thou lovest, and bless him while
he is doing so." — Leighton.


Willis Gaylord Clabk.

If it be sad to mark the bowed with age
Sink in the halls of the remorseless tomb,

Closing the changes of life's pilgrimage
In the still darkness of its mouldering gloom,

0, what a shadow o'er the heart is flung,

When peals the requiem of the loved and young !

They to whose bosoms, like the dawn of spring
To the unfolding bud and scented rose,

Comes the pure freshness age can never bring,
And fills the spirit with a rich repose, —

How shall we lay them in their final rest ?

How pile the clods upon their wasting breast ?

Life openeth brightly to their ardent gaze ;

A glorious pomp sits on the gorgeous sky ;
O'er the broad world Hope's smile incessant plays,

And scenes of beauty win th' enchanted eye :


How sad to break the vision, and to fold
Each lifeless form in earth's embracing mould !

Yet this is life ! — to mark, from day to day,
Youth, in the freshness of its morning prime,

Pass like the anthem of a breeze awav,

Sinking in waves of death ere chilled by time,

Ere yet dark years on the warm cheek had shed

Autumnal mildew o'er the rose-like red.

And yet what mourner, though the pensive eye
Be dimly thoughtful in its burning tears.

But should with rapture gaze upon the sky.

Through whose far depths the spirit's wing careers?

Thei'e gleams eternal o'er their ways are flung,

Who fade from earth while yet their years are young.


Rev. Robert Hall.

We should be more anxious that our afflictions
should benefit us than that they should be speedily
removed from us ; for they are intended to remove a far
greater evil than any which they can occasion. It is,
in reality, a most sparing and economical method
which the divine Being employs, when he uses these,
" our light afflictions," in order to remove our sins ;
for sin is the great disease of our nature, which must

82 MY mother's grave.

be removed if we are to be made happy. It is far
better that this disease should be expelled by the use
of means, however painful, then that, by the with-
holding of those means, it should be increased, inflamed,
and cause our destruction. We must be partakers of
his holiness, that we may be of his happiness ; and if
it is true that " tribulation worketh patience, and
patience experience, and experience hope, and hope
maketh not ashamed," then are our afflictions, duly
received, to be numbered among our greatest blessings.
This, then, is the light in which you should accustom
yourselves to view your afflictions — as commissioned
by God ; as merited by your sins ; as the effect of per-
fect parental care ; and with an earnest desire to de-
rive the benefit designed in your sanctification.


James Aldrich.

In beauty lingers on the hills

The death smile of the dying day ;
And twilight in my heart instils

The softness of its rosy ray.
I watch the river's peaceful flow,

Here, standing by my mother's grave,
And feel my dreams of glory go

Like weeds upon its sluggish wave.


God gives us ministers of love,

Which we regard not, being near :
Death takes them from us ; then we feel

That angels have been with us here.
As mother, sister, friend, or wife.

They guide us, cheer us, soothe our pain,
And when the grave has closed between

Our hearts %nd theirs, we love — in vain.

Would, Mother, thou couldst hear me tell

How oft, amid my brief career.
For sins and follies loved too well,

Hath fallen the free repentant tear ;
And in the waywardness of youth,

How better thoughts have given to me
Contempt for error, love for truth,

'Mid sweet remembrances of thee.

The harvest of my youth is done.

And manhood, come with all its cares.
Finds, garnered up within my heart.

For every flower a thousand tares.
Dear Mother, couldst thou know my thoughts,

Whilst bending o'er this holy shrine,
The depth of feeling in my breast.

Thou wouldst not blush to call me thine.




Friend after friend departs ;

Who hath not lost a friend ?
There is no union here of hearts

That finds not here an end :
Were this frail world our only rest,
Living or dying, none were blest.

Beyond the flight of time,

Beyond this vale of death.
There surely is some blessed clime

Where life is not a breath.
Nor life's affections transient fire,
Whose sparks fly upward to expire.

There is a world above.

Where parting is unknown —

A whole eternity of love.
Formed for the good alone ;

And faith beholds the dying here

Translated to that happier sphere.

Thus star by star declines.
Till all are passed away, —


As morning high and higher shines

To pure and perfect day :
Nor sink those stars in empty night ;
They hide themselves in heaven's own light.



Afflictions are God's most effectual means to keep
us from losing our way to our heavenly rest. Without
this hedge of thorns on the right hand and left, we
should hardly keep the way to heaven. If there be
but one gap open, how ready are we to find it, and
turn out at it ! When we grow wanton, or worldly,
or proud, how much doth sickness, or other affliction,
reduce us! Every Christian, as well as Luther, may
call affliction one of the best schoolmasters, and, with
David, may say, " Before I was afflicted, I went astray ;
but now have I kept thy word." Many thousand
recovered sinners may cry, " healthful sickness !
comfortable sorrows ! O gainful losses ! enriching
poverty! blessed day that ever I was afflicted!
Not only the "green pastures and still waters, but
the rod and staff, they comfort us." Though the
Word and Spirit do the main work, yet suffering so
unbolts the door of the heart, that the word hath
easier entrance. ... It were well if mere love
would prevail with us, and that we were rather drawn



to heaven than driven. But, seeing our hearts are so
bad that mercy will not do it, it is better to be put on
with the sharpest scourge than loiter like the foolish
virgins till the door is shut. 0, what a difference is
there betwixt our prayers in health and in sickness !
betwixt our repentings in prosperity and adversity !
Alas ! if we did not sometimes feel the spur, what a
slow pace would most of us hold toward heaven ! ,
Since our vile natures require it, why should we be
unwilling that God should do us good by sharp
means ? Judge, Christian, whether thou dost not go
more watchfully and speedily in the way to heaven
in thy sufferings than in thy more pleasant and pros-
perous state.



When the clouds of desolation

Gather o'er my naked head,
And my spirit's agitation

Knows not where to turn or tread ;
When life's gathering storms compel me

To submit to wants and woes, —
Who shall teach me, who shall tell me,

Where my heart may find repose ?

To the stars I fain would reach me ;
There the God of lidit must dwell ;


Sacred teachers, will ye teach me,

Blessed instructors, will ye tell,
How my voice may reach that portal

Where the seraphs crowd in throngs ?
How the lispings of a mortal

May be heard 'midst angel songs ?

God and Father, thou didst give me

Sorrow for my portion here ;
But thy mercy will not leave me

Helpless, struggling with despair ;
For to thee, when sad and lonely,

Unto thee, alone, I turn ;
And to thee, my Father, only

Look for comfort when I mourn ; —

Nor in vain — for light is breaking

'Midst the sorrows, 'midst the storms ;
And methinks I see awaking

Heavenly hopes and angel forms ;
And my spirit waxes stronger,

And my trembling heart is still,
And my bosom doubts no longer

Thine inexplicable will.

" It is a great tnitli, wonderful as it is undeniable, that all our happi-
ness — temporal, spiritual, and eternal — consists in one thing, namely,
in resigning ourselves to God, and in leaving ourselves veith him, to do
with us and in us just as he pleases. AVhen we arrive at this state of
entire and unrestricted dependence on God's spirit and providences, we
shall then fully realize that what we experience is just what we need, and
that, if God is truly good, he could not do otherwise than he does. All
that is wanting is, to leave ourselves faithfully in God's hands, submit-
ting always and fully to all his operations, whether painful or other-
wise." — Madame GUYON.



Charles Sprague.

I SEE thee still :
Eemembrance, faithful to her trust,
Calls thee in beauty from the dust ;
Thou comest in the morning light,
Thou'rt with me through the gloomy night ;
In dreams I meet thee as of old :
Then thy soft arms my neck infold,
And thy sweet voice is in my ear.
In every scene to memory dear

I see thee still.

I see thee still
In every hallowed token round :
This little ring thy finger bound ;
This lock of hair thy forehead shaded ;
This silken chain by thee was braided ;
These flowers, all withered now, like thee.
Sweet sister, thou didst cull for me ;
This book was thine — here didst thou read ;
This picture — ah, yes, here, indeed,

I see thee still.

I see thee still :
Here was thy summer noon's retreat ;
Here was thy favorite fireside seat j


This was thy chamber — here, each day,
I sat and watched thy sad decay ;
Here, on this bed, thou last didst lie ;
Here, on this pillow, thou didst die.
Dark hour ! once more its woes unfold —
As then I saw thee, pale and cold,
I see thee still.

I see thee still :
Thou art not in the grave confined —
Death cannot chain the immortal mind ;
Let earth close o'er its sacred trust,
But goodness dies not in the dust.
Thee, my sister ! 'tis not thee
Beneath the coffin's lid I see ;
Thou to a fairer land art gone ; —
There, let me hope, my journey done,

To see thee still.


Rev, Robert Hall.

You have learned, my dear friend, the terms on
V liich all earthly unions are formed ; the ties on
earth are not perpetual, and must be dissolved ; and
every enjoyment but that which is spiritual, every
life but that which is " hid with Christ in God," is of
short duration. Nothing here is given with an ulti-

8* "


mate view to enjoyment, but for tlie purpose of trial,
to prove us, and " to know what is in our hearts ; and
if we are upright before God, to do us good in the
latter end." You had, no doubt, often anticipated
such an event as the inevitable removal of one from
the other ; and I hope neither of you were wanting
in making a due improvement of the solemn reflection,
and laying up cordial for such an hour. Still I am

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Online LibraryMartha Noyes WilliamsVoices from the silent land; or, Leaves of consolation for the afflicted → online text (page 4 of 14)