The time will come, when, to many a beloved survivor, a word or sign, breaking the silence of the departed spirit, and giving some assurance that it is happy, would, perhaps, be the means of dispelling a life-long sorrow—would lift a crushing burden from the heart. The time to prepare that assurance, so that it shall come with most effectual power, is now, in days of health, when the evidences of our piety shall not be attainted by a suspicion of constraint and insincerity, arising from late repentance and an apparently forced submission to God. Our recollections of a departed Christian friend, of whose salvation his pious life makes us perfectly assured, come over us like the soft pulsations of a west wind in summer, laden with the sweets of a new-mown field; or like the clear, streaming moonlight in the brief interval between the broken clouds; or like remembered music, which some accidental word of a song has startled from its place and diffused through the soul. Thus departed Christian friends are the means of unspeakable happiness to survivors; thus “their works do follow them;” and we should make large account of this when we are weighing the question whether we will now, or in the closing hours of life, so fearfully uncertain, begin to love and serve God.
The question which earth asks respecting one and another, “Where is he?” is no doubt repeated in heaven: Have you met him in any of these streets? Did you see him on yonder hills? Angels, returned from other happy worlds, have you heard of him? Where is he? He is conscious, intelligent, receiving sensations from objects around him as vividly as ever. But, Where is he?
Of others, the question could be answered by ten thousand happy voices, “All is well.” With regard to many, the silence of the dead, forbidding our inquiries, is the only thing which, in any measure, composes the grief of friends. But as to our Christian friends, we have no more reason to inquire with solicitude respecting them, than concerning the Saviour himself. “I go to prepare a place for you,”—“that where I am, there ye may be also.” The dying Christian may truly say to his friends, as the Saviour did to his: “Whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.”
The redemption of the body.
What though my body run to
Faith cleaves unto it, counting every grain
With an exact and most particular trust,
Reserving all for flesh again.
It is good to think of Michael, the archangel, disputing with the devil about the body of Moses. The dispute was over a grave. The Most High had himself performed the funeral rites of his servant; for, we read, “The Lord buried him.” We naturally think of the archangel as placed in charge of the precious dust.