The path of sorrow
(William Bacon Stevens, "The Rainbow in the Cloud" 1856)
"Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows." John 16:33
We live in a world of sin, and hence in a world of sorrow — for "man is born to sorrow, as the sparks fly upward." The apostle Paul tells us that "We must go through much tribulation to enter the kingdom of God." Thus it is true that . . .
"The path of sorrow, and that path alone —
leads to the land where sorrow is unknown!"
That being so, it befits us to learn . . .
how to transmute tribulations into blessings;
how to turn God's chastening rod into a supporting staff;
how to discern the rainbow in the cloud — while we are still wet with with raindrops of sorrow!
It is the design of this volume to aid in doing this comforting work. It seeks to ameliorate sorrow — not by a kind of moral anesthetic, deadening the sensibility of grief, and making the heart less susceptible to woe — but rather by showing to the afflicted, that chastenings are the sure evidence of God's fatherly love.
The furnace of affliction is but the purifying agent to purge away our dross — that the great Refiner may see His own image reflected in purified souls.
In furnishing the strongest and most Scriptural consolation which can be offered to the sorrowful and stricken-hearted, we believe . . .
that all our springs of comfort are in Jesus Christ,
that they are applied to the soul by the Holy Spirit,
that they are to be sought for by the prayer of faith, and
that they result from the overflowing grace of our Heavenly Father.
We are unwilling to lead the reader to any of the "broken cisterns of earth" for consolation, when the well-spring of Divine comfort, which can alone staunch his bleeding heart, is pouring forth its free and life-giving waters!
It is the lot of all, to be visited with sorrow. There is "a time to mourn" marked out in every man's life; and when that time comes, and the fainting spirit turns away from the "miserable comforters" of earth — may all who consult these pages find in God a refuge from every storm, and "a very present help" in every time of trouble. And may they be enabled so to look at their sorrows, with the clear-sighted eye of faith, that they shall discern "a rainbow" in every cloud of affliction; and "covenant mercy'' in every shower of grief!