Martha Noyes Williams.

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

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what is the strength of God in us, and what the aid of divine grace is,
which often bears us up under them to a surprising degree, and makes
us joyful by a happy exit ; so that we shall be able to say, My God, my
Strength, and my Deliverer." — Leighton.




Edward Paysox, D. D.

My dear brother and sister in Christ, and now
brother and sister in affliction, the letters which ac-
company this will inform you why I write. I see and
share in the poignant grief which those letters occa-
sion ; nor would I rudely interrupt it. I will sit down
and weep with you in silence for a while ; and when
the first gush of wounded affection is past, when the
tribute which nature demands, and which religion does
not forbid, has been paid to the memory of your dear
departed babe, I will attempt to whisper a word of
consolation. May the " God of all consolation " make
it such. Were I writing to parents who know nothing
of religion, I should indeed despair of affording you
any consolation. My task would be difi&cult indeed,
nor should I know what to say. I could only tell
them of a God whom they had never known, of a
Savior with whom they had formed no acquaintance,
of a Comforter whose consoling power they had never
experienced, of a Bible from whose rich treasures they
had never been taught to derive support. But in
writing to you, my only difficulty is of a very different

* This letter was addressed by Dr. Payson, to two of his flock, who,
in their absence from home, received with it the afflicting intelligence of
the death of their only child.


kind. It consists in selecting from the innumerable
topics of consolation contained in the Scriptures those
which are best adapted to your peculiar situation. So
numerous are they, that I know not which to mention
or which to omit. May God guide my choice and
direct my pen. It is needless, in writing to Christian
parents, to you, to enlarge on the common topics of
consolation. I need not tell you who has done this —
who it is that gives and takes away.

I need not tell you, that " whom the Lord loveth he
chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiv-
eth." I need not tell you of the great duties of
resignation and submission, for you have long been
learning them in a painful but salutary school. And
need I tell you that He who inflicts your sufferings
knows their number and weight, knows all the pain
you feel, and sympathizes with you, even as you once
sympathized with your dear babe? for "as a father
pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that
fear him." 0, think of this : the pity, the parental pity,
of a God ! Who would not willingly be afflicted, to
be thus pitied ? Go, then, my dear brother and sister,
and lean with sweet, confiding love upon the bosom
of this pitying, sympathizing Friend : there deposit all
3^our sorrows, and hear him saying. The cup which I
give you, my children, will you not drink it? Re-
member, he knows all its bitterness. He himself men-
tions the grief of parents mourning for a first-born
and only child as exceedingly great. Remember, too,
that taking this bitter cup with cheerfulness from your
Father's hand will be considered by him as an un-
equivocal token of your filial affection. " Now I know


that thou lovest me," said he to Abraham, " seeing thou
hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me."
It requires the same kind of grace, if not the same
degree of grace, to resign a child willingly to God,
as to sacrifice it on the altar ; and if you are en-
abled thus to resign your babe, God will say to you,
Now I know that ye love me, seeing ye withheld not
your child, your only child, from me.

If, at times when " all the parent rises in your
bosoms," these consolations should prove insufficient
to quiet your sorrows, think on what is the situation
and employment of your dear departed child. She
is, doubtless, praising God ; and, next to the gift of
Christ, she probably praises him for giving her par-
ents who prayed for her, and dedicated her to God.
She now knows all that you did for her, and loves
and thanks you for it, and will love and thank you
forever ; for though natural ties are dissolved by
death, yet those spiritual ties which unite you and
your child will last long as eternity. She has per-
formed all the work, and done all the good, for which
she was sent to us, and thus fulfilled the end of her
earthly existence ; and if you have been the means
of bringing into being a little immortal, who had
just lighted on these shores, and then took her flight
to heaven, you have reason to be thankful ; for it is
an honor and a favor. .Neither your existence nor
your union has been in vain, since you have been the
instruments of adding one more blessed voice to the
choirs above.




Mrs. Dana.

Mother, I've news for thee from heaven ;

Thy daughter boweth near the throne ;
0, canst thou not for her rejoice,

Though thou art left alone ?

Hast thou not seen her lovely eye

Gaze on thee through her glittering tears,

Though thou didst strive from every ill
To shield her tender years ?

Mother, thy daughter weeps no more ;

For all her tears are wiped away ;
Exhaled like dewdrops from the rose

Beneath the sun's bright ray.

Mother, thy daughter is in heaven ;

And pain can never reach her there ;
No sickness comes to those who breathe

That pure, delightful air.

Look up with Faith's observant eye.
And see thine angel daughter now ;

I would not wish to call her back
To this dark world — Avouldst thou ?


" 0, no, 0, no," I hear thee say ;

" My Savior hath his promise kept ;
He comforts me ; — and yet I must

Weep on, — for Jesus wept."


Bishop Doane.

•'Dear Sir: I am in some little disorder by reason of the death of a
little child of mine, a boy that lately made us very glad ; but now he re-
joices in his little orbe, ■yv-hile we thinke, and sigh, and long to be as safe
as he is." — Jeremy Taylor to Evelyn, 1656.

Beautiful thing, with thine eye of light,
And thy brow of cloudless beauty bright,
Gazing for aye on the sapphire throne
Of Him who dwelleth in light alone,
Art thou hasting now on that golden wing,
With the burning seraph choir to sing ?
Or stooping to earth, in thy gentleness,
Our darkling path to cheer and bless ?

Beautiful thing ! thou art come in love.
With gentle gales from the world above.
Breathing of pureness, breathing of bliss,
Bearing our spirits away from this
To the better thoughts, to the brighter skies,
Where heaven's eternal sunshine lies,

HOPE. 163

"Winning our hearts by a blessed guile,
With that infant look and angel smile.

Beautiful thing ! thou art come in joy,

With the look, with the voice, of our darling boy ;

Him .that was torn from the bleeding hearts

He had twined about with his infant arts,

To dwell from sin and sorrow far.

In the golden orb of his little star.

Here he rejoiceth in light, while we

Long to be happy and safe as he.

Beautiful thing ! thou art come in peace.
Bidding our doubts and our fears to cease,
Wiping the tears which unbidden start
From the bitter fount in the broken heart,
Cheering us still on our lonely way.
Lest our hearts should faint or our feet should stray,
Till risen with Christ we at last shall be.
Beautiful thing, with our boy and thee !


Bishop Hebee.

Heflected on the lake I love
To see the stars of evening glow.
So tranquil in the heaven above.
So restless in the wave below.


Thus heavenly hope is all serene ;

But earthly hope, how bright soe'er,
Still flutters o'er the changing scene

As false, as fleeting, as 'tis fair.



In all the troubles and afilictions that befall you, eye
Jesus Christ. Afflictions rise not out of the dust, nor
do they befall you casually ;" but he raises them up, and
gives them their commission : " Behold, I create evil,
and devise a device against you." (Jer. xviii. 11.) He
selects the instrument of your trouble ; he makes the
rod as afflictive as he plcaseth ; he orders the continu-
ance and end of your troubles ; and they will not
cease to be afflictive to you till Christ say, Leave off* ; it
is enough. His wisdom shines out many ways in them.
It is evident in choosing such kinds of trouble for you
as are best adapted to purge out the corruption that
predominates in you ; in the degree of your troubles,
suffering them to work to such a height as to reach
their end, but no higher, lest they overwhelm you.
0, think. If the devil had the mixing of my cup, how
much more bitter would he make it! There would
not be one drop of mercy in it ; but here is much
mercy mixed with my troubles. There is mercy in
this, that it is no worse. Am I afflicted ? It is of the

A mother's lament. 165

Lord's mercy I am not consumed, (Lam. iii. 22 ;) it
might have been hell instead of this chastisement.
There is mercy in his supports under it ; I might have
been left, as others have been, to sink and perish under
my burdens. Mercy in deliverance out of it ; this
might have been everlasting darkness, that should
never have had a morning. the tenderness of
Christ to his afflicted !




I LOVED thee, daughter of my heart ;

My child, I loved thee dearly ;
And though we only met to part,

How sweetly ! how severely I
Nor life nor death can sever
My soul from thine forever.

Thy days, my little one, were few ;

An angel's morning visit.
That came and vanished with the dew ;

'Twas here, 'tis gone — where is it?
Yet didst thou leave behind thee
A clew for love to find thee.

166 A mother's lament.

The eye, tlie lip, the cheek, the brow,
The hands stretched forth in gladness,

All life, joy, rapture, beauty now.
Then dashed with infant sadness ;

Till, brightening by transition,

Keturned the fairy vision.

Where are they now — those smiles, those tears,
Thy mother's darling treasure ?

She sees them still, and still she hears
Thy tones of pain or pleasure.

To her quick pulse revealing

Unutterable feeling.

Hushed in a moment on her breast,
Life at the wellspring drinking ;

Then cradled on her lap to rest.
In rosy slumber sinking :

Thy dreams — no thought can guess them ;

And mine^no tongue express them.

For then this waking eye could see,

In many a vain vagary.
The things that never were to be.

Imaginations airy.
Fond hopes that mothers cherish.
Like stillborn babes to perish.

Mine perished on thy early bier ;

No — changed to forms more glorious,
They flourish in a higher sphere.

O'er time and death victorious ;


Yet would tliese arms have chained thee,
And long from heaven detained thee.

Sarah, my last, my youngest love,

The crown of every other,
Though thou art born in heaven above,

I am thine only mother ;
Nor will affection let me
Believe thou canst forget me.

Then — thou in heaven and I on earth —

May this one hope delight us,
That thou wilt hail my second birth,

When death shall reunite us,
Where worlds no more can sever
Parent and child forever.



Thomas a Kemp is.

Possess thy soul in patience, and comfort will arrive
in its proper season. Wait for me ; and, if I come not,
wait ; for I will at length come, and " will not tarry."
That which afflicts thee is a trial for thy good ; and
that which terrifies thee is a false and groundless fear.
..." Let not thy heart be troubled, neither let it
be afraid." " Believe in me," whose redeeming power


has " overcome the world," and place all thy confidence
in my mercy. I am often nearest thee when thou
thinkest me at the greatest distance ; and when thou
hast given up all as lost in darkness, the light of peace
is ready to break upon thee. All is not lost when thy
situation happens to be contrary to thy own narrow
and selfish judgment. It is injurious to thy peace to
determine what will be thy future condition by argu-
ing from present perceptions, and it is sinful to suffer
thy spirit to be so overwhelmed by trouble, as if all
hope of emerging from it was utterly taken away.
Think not thyself condemned to total dereliction when
I permit tribulation to come upon thee for a season, or
suspend the consolations which thou art always fondly
desiring ; for this is the narrow way to the kingdom of
heaven ; and it is more expedient for my servants to
be exercised with many sufferings, than to enjoy that
perpetual rest and delight which they would choose for
themselves. I, who know the hidden thoughts of thy
heart, and the depth of the evil that is in it, know that
thy salvation depends upon thy being sometimes left in
the full perception of thy own impotence and wretch-
edness ; lest, in the undisturbed prosperity of the spir-
itual life, thou shouldst exalt thyself for what is not
thy own, and take complacence in vain conceit of per-
fection, to which man of himself cannot attain. The
good I bestow I can both take away and restore again.
When I have bestowed it, it is still mine ; and when I
resume it, I take not away that which is thine ; for there
is no good of which I am not the principle and centre.
When, therefore, I visit thee with adversity, murmur
not, neither let thy heart be troubled ; for I can soon


restore tliee to light and peace, and change thy heavi-
ness into joy ; but in all my dispensations, acknowl-
edge that I, the Lord, am righteous, and greatly to be
praised. If thou wert wise, and didst behold thyself
and thy fallen state by that light with which I, who
am the truth, enlighten thee, instead of grieving and
murmuring at the adversities which befall thee, thou
wouldst rejoice and give thanks ; nay, thou wouldst
" count it all joy thus to endure chastening.'' I once
said to the disciples whom I chose to attend my minis-
try upon earth, " As the Father hath loved me, so have
I loved you ; " and I sent them forth into the world,
not to luxury, but to conflict ; not to honor, but to con-
tempt ; not to amusement, but to labor ; not to take re-
pose, but to " bring forth much fruit with patience."


Thomas Ward.

Thou bright and star-like spirit,

That, in my visions wild,
I see, 'mid heaven's seraphic host,

0, canst thou be my child ?

My grief is quenched in wonder,
And pride arrests my sighs ;

A branch from this unworthy stock
Now blossoms in the skies.


Our hopes of thee were lofty ;

But have we cause to grieve ?
0, could our fondest, proudest wish

A nobler fate conceive ? —

The little weeper tearless,
The sinner snatched from sin,

The babe to more than manhood grown
Ere childhood did begin ?

And I, thy earthly teacher,

Would blush thy powers to see ;

Thou art to me a parent now,
And I a child to t'hee.

What bliss is born of sorrow !

'Tis never sent in vain ;
The heavenly Surgeon maims to save ;

He gives no useless pain.

Our God, to call us homeward.

His only Son sent down ;
And now, still more to tempt our hearts,

Has taken up our own.




The only source of all our consolation is GocVs gra-
cious promise to help us in time of need. Engrave in
the bottom of your hearts these divine sayings : When
he that hath set his love upon me shall call upon me,
I will answer him : I will be with him in trouble ; I will
deliver him, and honor him. The Lord knoweth how
to deliver the godly out of temptations. He is rich
unto all that call upon him. He is nigh unto all them
that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.
He fulfils the desires of the humble, he hears their cry.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous ; but the Lord
delivereth him out of them all. Call upon me, saith
he, in the day of trouble ; I will deliver thee, and thou
shalt glorify me. The tenderness of God's love accom-
panies the glory of his majesty. He is the Father of
mercies, and the God of all comfort, who comforteth us
in all our tribulation. He is that bosom Friend who loveth
at all times, as it were a brother who is born for ad-
versity. He is at once the King of kings, and our most
cordial Friend. He enters into the house of mourning,
and is nigh unto every broken heart and contrite spirit.
The lower our estate is, the more he remembereth us.
Shall thy God, who loves thee more cordially and with

172 god's kind care op us.

a more unalterable love than tlie best of fathers, or
the most tender-hearted mother, forsake thee in the
day of affliction ? This merciful and compassionate
Father, who took thee into his protection when thou
camest into the world, and hath administered to all
thy necessities, shall he refuse thee his gracious suc-
cor in this thy utmost extremity? He who hath
crowned thy youthful days with his divine blessings
will not cast thee off when thy strength faileth.


Francis Quarles.

Even as a nurse, whose child's imperfect pace
Can hardly lead his foot from place to place,
Leaves her fond kissing, sets him down to go,
Nor does uphold him for a step or two,
But when she finds that he begins to fall,
She holds him up, and kisses him withal, —
So God from man sometimes withdraws his hand
A while^ to teach his infant faith to stand ;
But when he sees his feeble strength begin
To fail, he gently takes him up again.



"Willis Gaylord Clark.

GoxE to the slumber which may know no waking

Till the loud requiem of the world shall swell ;
Gone where no sound thy still repose is breaking,

In a lone mansion through long years to dwell ;
Where the sweet gales that herald bud and blossom

Pour not their music nor their fragrant breath, —
A seal is set upon thy budding bosom,

A l3ond of loneliness — a spell of death.

Yet 'twas but yesterday that all before thee

Shone in the freshness of life's morning hours ;
Joy's radiant smile was playing briefly o'er thee,

And thy light feet impressed but vernal flowers.
The restless spirit charmed thy sweet existence,

Making all beauteous in Youth's pleasant maze,
"While gladsome Hope illumed the onward distance,

And lit with sunbeams thy expectant days.

How have the garlands of thy childhood withered,

And Hope's false anthem died upon the air !
Death's cloudy tempests o'er thy way have gathered,

And his stern bolts have burst in fury there.
On thy pale forehead sleeps the shade of even ;

Youth's braided wreath lies stained in sprinkled dust ;
Yet, looking upward in its grief to Heaven,

Love should not mourn thee, save in hope and trust.




"William Cullen Bryant.

The melanclioly days are come,

The saddest of the year,
Of wailing winds, and naked woods,

And meadows brown and sear.
Heaped in the hollows of the grove,

The withered leaves lie dead ;
They rustle to the eddying gust,

And to the rabbit's tread.
The robin and the wren are flown,

And from the shrubs the jay.
And from the wood top caws the crow,

Through all the gloomy day.

Where are the flowers, the fair young flowers,

That lately sprang and stood
In brighter light and softer airs,

A beauteous sisterhood ?
Alas ! they all are in their graves ;

The gentle race of flowers
Are lying in their lowly beds.

With the fair and good of ours.
The rain is falling where they lie,

But the cold November rain
Calls not from out the gloomy earth

The lonely ones again.


The windflower and the violet,

They perished long ago,
And the brierrose and the orchis died

Amid the summer glow ;
But on the hill the goldenrod,

And the aster in the wood,
And the yellow sunflower by the brook

In autumn beauty stood,
Till fell the frost from the clear, cold heaven,

As falls the plague on men,
And the brightness of their smile was gone,

From upland, glade, and glen.

And now, when comes the calm, mild day, —

As still such days will come, —
To call the squirrel and the bee

From out their winter home ;
When the sound of dropping nuts is heard,

Though all the trees are still,
And twinkle in the smoky light

The waters of the rill ;
The south wind searches for the flowers

"Whose fragrance late he bore.
And sighs to find them in the wood

And by the streams no more.

And then I think of one who in

Her youthful beauty died.
The fair, meek blossom that grew up

And faded by my side ;
In the cold, moist earth we laid her,

When the forest cast the leaf.

176 A DIRGE.

And we wept that one so lovely

Should have a life so brief :
Yet not unmeet it was that one

Like that young friend of ours,
So gentle and so beautiful,

Should perish with the flowers.

" There is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and
that the tender branches thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof
wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground, yet, through
the scent of water, it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant. But
man dieth, and wasteth away ! yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where
is he ? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and diieth
up, so man lieth down, and riseth not : till the heavens be no more, they
shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep." — Job xiv.

" I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which
are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if
we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in
Jesus will God bring with him. . . . For the Lord himself shall de-
scend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and ^vith
the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first." — 1 Thessa-
LONiANS, iv.


Mrs. Hemans.

Weep for the early lost ! —
How many flowers were mingled in the crown
Thus, with the lovely, to the grave gone down,

E'en when life promised most !
How many hopes have withered ! They that bow
To Heaven's dread will feel all its mysteries now.

A DIRGE. 177

Did the young motlier's eye
Beliold her child, and close upon the day,
Ere from its glance th' awakening spirit's ray

In sunshine could reply ?
— Then look for clouds to dim the fairest morn !
0, strong is faith, if woe like this be borne.

For there is hushed on earth
A voice of gladness — there is veiled a face,
AVhose parting leaves a dark and silent place

By the once joyous hearth.
A smile hath passed, which filled its home with light,
A soul, whose beauty made that smile so bright !

But there is power with faith !
Power, e'en though nature o'er th' untimely grave
Must weep, when God resumes the gem he gave ;

For sorrow comes of death,
And with a yearning heart we linger on,
When they whose glance unlocked its founts are

But glory from the dust.
And praise to Him, the merciful, for those
On whose bright memory love may still repose,

With an immortal trust ;
Praise for the dead, who leave us, when they part.
Such hope as she hath left — "the pure in heart."



Life of Madame Guyon.

There is a light in yonder skies,
A light unseen by outward eyes ;
But clear and bright to inward sense
It shines — the star of Providence.

The radiance of the central throne,
It comes from God, and God alone —
The ray that never yet grew pale.
The star that " shines within the veil."

And faith, unchecked by earthly fears.
Shall lift its eye, though filled with tears,
And while around 'tis dark as night,
Untired shall mark that heavenly light.



Rev. Thomas Brooks.

As the word hath a voice, the Spirit a voice, and
conscience a voice, so the rod hath a voice. Afflictions
are the rod of God's anger, the rod of his displeasure,
and his rod of revenge : he gives a commission to this
rod to awaken, to reform his people, or else to revenge
the quarrel of his covenant upon them, if they will
not hear, and kiss the rod, and sit mute and silent un-
der it. " The Lord's voice crieth unto the city, and
the man of wisdom shall see thy name ; hear ye the
rod, and who hath appointed it." (Mic. iv. 9.) God's

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