Timothy Shay Arthur, 1856
When she changed worlds — what was she to others? A small old, feeble woman. 'What was she to us?' A radiant, smiling angel, upon whose brow, the sunshine of the eternal world had fallen. We looked into her large, tender eyes, and saw not as others did, that her mortal garment had waxed old and feeble; or if we saw, this, it was no symbol of decay, for beyond and within, we recognized 'her' in all her beauty. Oh! how heavy and bitter would have been her long and slow decline, if we had seen her grow old instead of young! The days that hastened to give her birth into eternity, grow brighter and brighter, until when memory wandered back, it had no experiences so sweet as those through which she was passing. The long life, with its youthful romance, its prosaic cares, its quiet sunshine, and deep tragedies — was culminating to its earthly close; and, like some blessed story that appeals to the heart in its great pathos, the end was drawing near, all clouds were rolling away, and she was stepping forth into the brilliance of prosperity.
Selfishness ceased to weep under the light of her cheerful glance, and grew to be congratulation. Beside her couch we sat, and traced with loving imagination the new life soon to open before her; with tears and smiles we traced it. Doubts never mingled, for from earliest childhood we had no memories of her, which were inconsistent with the expectations of a Christian. Deep in our souls there lay gratitude that her morning drew near; beautiful and amazing it seemed that she would never more bow to the stroke of the chastener; fresh courage descended from on high, as we realized that there was an end to suffering.
It was difficult to believe that her discipline was nearly over — how brief it had been, compared with the glorious existence it had won her. How passing sweet were her assurances that she should leave us awhile longer on earth with childlike trust, knowing that our own souls needed to stay, and that the destiny of others needed it! But the future in her everlasting home seemed very near to her, and she saw us gathered around her. She grew weaker, and said her last words to us. Throughout the last day she said but little — but often her tender eyes were riveted upon us; they said "Farewell! farewell!"
In the hush of the chamber, a faint, harp-like strain came from her dying lips; it sounded as if it came from afar; 'then' the angels were taking her to their companionship. She softly fell asleep, resigning her worn-out body to us — and 'she' entered Heaven.
Ah! do we apprehend what a glorious event it is for the "pure in heart" to die? We look upon the bride's beauty, and see in the vista before her, anguish and tears, and but transient sunshine. The beauty fades, the splendor of life declines to the worldly eyes that gaze upon her. Deaf and blind are such gazers, for the bride may daily be winning imperishable beauty — yet it is not for this world.
A most sad and melancholy thing it seems, when older children judge their parents by their frail and decaying bodies — rather than by their spirits. And more deeply sad still is it, when the aged learn through the young — to feel that the freshness of existence has gone by with them. Gone by? when they are waiting to be born into a new and vast existence that shall roll on in increasing majesty, and never reach an end! Gone by? when they have just entered life, as it were! The glory and sweetness of living is 'going by' only with those who are turning away their faces from the Prince of Peace.
Sweet mother! she is breathing spring airs now, and with every breath a spring-like life and joy are wafted through her being. Mother beautiful and beloved! some sweet, embryo joy fills the chambers of my heart as I contemplate the scenes with which she is becoming familiar. Dead and dreary winter robes the earth, and autumn leaves lie under the snow like past hopes — but what of them? I see only the smile of God's sunshine. I see in the advancing future, love and peace — only infinite peace!