My dear sister,
I thank you and dear M- much for having thought of sending me the account of the accident to your dear babe. It is indeed a sore trial to see one who is a part of ourselves thus taken off at one blow, and unexpectedly. Still, what a difference, to have the Lord's love to look to, and to believe one's babe - as I surely do - the object of it. It is a consolation which changes everything, because everything is changed. The knowledge of the love of God, which is come into this place of death, has brightened with the most blessed rays all its darkness; and the darkness even only serves to shew what a comfort it is to have such a light. There is nothing in the heart but light: nothing can make darkness when we have it. It is a world of sorrow; and the longer we know it, and the nearer even we walk to the Lord, the better we shall know it to be such. I do not mean that none of our sorrows are chastenings: we know that they often are such to His most beloved ones, as we see in Job. By all, save Christ, there is all grace to be learned by them; and even He entered into the sorrows of others, as arising from their faults and foolishness; for His sympathies were perfect, and, blessed be God, they are.
He suffered for righteousness, and He suffered for sin; but, besides this, He entered, as taking by grace a place among the godly remnant in Israel, into all which that remnant would feel as seeing the state of Israel (of which they were actually part) under the chastening hand of God for sin. All this He felt as none else could feel. His sympathy is as perfect now, though no longer passing through the sorrows by which He gained the experience of it. Besides, it is only in the part which has to be broken and corrected that we suffer; a touched affection, when Christ is with us in the grief, is of infinite sweetness, though the sweetness of sorrow. It is only when the will mixes itself up with the sorrow that there is any bitterness in it, or pain in which Christ is not. But then this is all useful and what we need. The Lord takes your dear babe to heaven (certainly he has no loss): what is the rest of God's dealings in it with us - with one's heart? He who has made a mother's feelings knows what they are - knows what He has wounded, and knows why - has a purpose of love in it. There is a mass of things in the sincerest of us of which we are not aware, which are not brought into subjection to God, which work and shew themselves unsuspected. God breaks in upon us; how many things He shews - how many cords He cuts at one blow! A whole system of affections is touched: we feel that death has its place and part in them. I never saw a family the same thing after the first death that it was before. There was a breach in the circle. What belonged to the whole body of affections and life of this world was touched, was found to be - mortal: it was struck in its very nature. The course of life went on; the wave had closed over that which had been cast into it; but death, and the affections which belong to this world, had been found to meet. But all this is well; for death is come in. Besides we live in these things; our will lives in them; and when the will is broken, so far as it is so, it is broken for everything. We learn much more to lean on what never breaks - not to lose our affections, but to have them more in connection with Christ, less with this will of our own nature; for nature must now die as well as sin. But then Christ never makes a breach, except to come in and connect the soul and heart more with Himself; and it is worth all the sorrow that ever was, and more, to learn the least atom more of His love and of Himself; and there is nothing like that, nothing like Him; and it lasts.
402 But, besides, there is a useful work by it in our own hearts; and so more capacity to know, and enjoy, and learn communion with, Him; more capacity to delight in and understand God; to know, and to know the value of, what He delights in; more moral capacity to delight in what is excellent. We little know what high and blessed things we are called to. Oh that the saints knew it better! to be with, and have common joy and communion with, God!
Some have much of it down here. It is opened out to them. But all that is of nature and will can have no part in this; and often the saints, though not directly dishonouring the Lord, are living in nature. Then the Lord deals with them, "turns man from his purpose, and hides pride from man." Oh what a profitable thing it is to have that hidden from us! And how completely it is, when God deals with us, and brings us into His presence, whatever means He may employ, for He knows the springs of our hearts and how to touch them. But oh what grace is this daily, constant care! - "He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous." What a God to have to do with! and all in love! And when the storm is all passed, the brightness for which He is preparing us will shine out unclouded, and it will be Himself - Him we have known in all this tender care. Yet in the brightness of His glory, the glory of God will lighten it, and the Lamb will be its light. We shall be with the Son, with Jesus, enjoying as and with Him the brightness and divine favour which shine out on Him. And oh! how blessed the love, Jesus' love, that has brought us there for ever with Him, in virtue of it, and now in the full blessed enjoyment of it with Himself.
403 I do earnestly pray that this sorrow may be blessed to you and to all your dear children, that they may see how near death is, but the Lord still nearer. Assure dear M - how truly I sympathise with him. A father's sorrow, though of another character, is not less deep than a mother's. You must expect that, as time passes on, the present feeling of loss will diminish, and, in a certain sense, pass away too. Not that the affectionate remembrance of your poor little babe will be at all gone; but its character will be changed, and your living children and daily occupation will make it less absorbing. This is natural, and, in one sense, right. Living duties have their place, which cannot be rightly yielded to absorbing affections. What I would earnestly recommend to you is to profit by the moments when the impression and present effect of it is strong; to place yourself before God, and reap all the fruit of His dispensations and tender grace. It is a time when He searches and manifests His love to the heart at the same time. May you grow much by this - surely to a mother's heart - painful occurrence.
Ever faithfully yours in Christ,
[END OF PRACTICAL - VOL. 1]