The Grave Visited
James Smith, 1859
It was said of Mary the sister of Lazarus, "She has gone to the grave to weep there." And I have just been to the village graveyard, to stand by the newly opened grave of one of the lambs of my flock. He had been an interesting child, a scholar in our Sunday School, and the pride of his father's heart. But death pays no attention to any of these things. When it once gets its commission signed, it soon strikes the blow! The surgeon's skill, the parents' attention, and the teacher's prayers are powerless to avert the stroke. The tree marked must fall. My young friend fell, and fell rather suddenly too. But there was hope in his death, a hope founded on God's most blessed word.
He died at the age of twelve. A considerable time before his last illness, he came to me in deep distress of mind. He had been filled with alarm by a distressing dream about the end of the world. He wept and trembled greatly. I persuaded him not to trouble himself about the end of the world—but to seek the Lord at once, that so he may be prepared for that event, or any other. His convictions deepened, and the boards where he knelt to pray were often wet with his tears. He felt his need of a Savior, he sought the pardon of sin, he prayed for peace with God; but for a season he seemed to seek and pray in vain. But God is faithful, and the promises He has made to simple faith and earnest prayer, must be answered. He may delay for a time—but He will never refuse to fulfill His own word.
About six or eight months before his death, his teacher gave him a small book, entitled, "Sins Forgiven;" this he read with deep interest, and was enabled to believe for the pardon of his own sins. Prior to this, he often appeared very gloomy at home—but now his countenance was changed, and he said to his mother, "I am happy now!" "Are you, my boy," she said, "what makes you happy?" "Because my sins are forgiven," he replied. "My teacher told me that Christ was willing to forgive, and now I feel He has forgiven me."
It appeared evident to those about him, that a work of grace was begun in his heart, and that he was trusting in the Lord Jesus for the salvation of his soul. When prevented from attending the Lord's house, he would take his brother and sister into a room by themselves, and read and explain God's word, and pray with them; showing that he felt a concern for their salvation. He was at length seized with a cold which brought on a fever; for three or four weeks he suffered very patiently, and then fell asleep in Jesus.
During his illness, his mother thinking (as he never complained), that he might not be aware of his danger, said to him, "My boy, you are very ill." "Never mind, mother," said he, "I am thankful that I can say what thousands cannot, that if I die I shall not go to hell." At another time, when his mother was expressing her sorrow at the idea of parting with him, he said, "Better to part for a short time—than forever." His teacher visited him the day before his death, and found him suffering very much—but very patiently; his mind was calm and happy. He asked him, if the will of God were so, would he rather die than live, and he emphatically answered, "yes." The next morning, being turned on his pillow—he sighed three times and was gone—gone to be forever with the Lord.
How many of His lambs the Great Shepherd gathers in His arms, and carries them to His fold above! To how many young people our Sunday Schools have been made a blessing. Our dear Redeemer still takes the little ones in His arms and blesses them. How sweet the peace He gives them. How simple the faith He bestows upon them. How patiently He enables them to suffer, and how calmly and quietly they die.
Precious Lord Jesus, we bless You for Your love to Your children, for the grace You give them, and the happiness they find in You! O bring us into a child-like, humble, and dependent state of mind; let us rest in You, trust to You, and glorify Your holy and ever blessed name! Blessed Spirit, attend our teaching and preaching with Your grace and power, that many from our schools, families, and congregations, may rise up to serve You; and dying, bear witness to the efficacy of Your blood, and the preciousness of Your salvation!