One other question concerning the future with which, as by an instinct, we turn to Christ for answer is suggested by the following touching little poem:
“I can recall so well how she would look—
How at the very murmur of her dress
On entering the room, the whole room took
An air of gentleness.
That was so long ago, and yet his eyes
Had always afterwards the look that waits
And yearns, and waits again, nor can disguise
Something it contemplates.
May we imagine it? The sob, the tears,
The long, sweet, shuddering breath; then on her breast
The great, full, flooding sense of endless years,
Of heaven, and her, and rest.”
Can we quote the authority of Jesus for thoughts like these? The point is, let it be noted, not whether we shall know each other again beyond death, but whether we shall be to each other what we were here. At the foot of the white marble cross which his wife placed upon the grave of Charles Kingsley are graven these three words: Amavimus, Amamus, Amabimus ("We have loved, we love, we shall love"). After Mrs. Browning’s death her husband wrote these lines from Dante in her Testament: “Thus I believe, thus I affirm, thus I am certain it is, that from this life I shall pass to another better, there, where that lady lives, of whom my soul was enamoured.” Will Christ counter-sign a hope like this? I do not know any “proof-text” that can be quoted, yet it were profanation to think otherwise. There are many flowers of time, we know, which cannot be transplanted; but “love never faileth,” love is the true immortelle. And whatever changes death may bring, those who have been our nearest here shall be our nearest there. And though, as I say, we can quote no “proof-text,” our faith may find its guarantee in the great word of Jesus: “If it were not so, I would have told you.” This is one of the instincts of the Christian heart, as pure and good as it is firm and strong. Since Christ let it pass unchallenged, may we not claim His sanction for it? If it were not so, He would have told us.
I turn now to the reverse side of Christ’s teaching concerning the future. And let us not seek to hide from ourselves the fact that there is a reverse side. For, ignore it as we may, the fact remains: those same holy lips which spoke of a place, “where neither moth nor rust doth consume,” spoke likewise of another place, “where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”