Three letters to a mother and her daughter.
J. N. Darby.
Yes, doubtless, the loss of your dear daughter will be a sorrowful blow and a great gap in your family; but in one way or another I have for a long time accustomed myself to death in Christ; and, as far as Christians are concerned, to my mind it comes with smiles — in itself a terrible thing, I fully own, but now a gain. God will have us in the perfect light. For Christ, because of us, the way of life was through death. It is not necessarily so for us, because death is completely overcome; but Christ, who has overcome, is there with us, if we have to take that way to get out of evil and defilement, to enter into the light and perfect joy of His presence. If there is something that has not been settled with God, there may be a painful moment; for the soul must respond to the joy which is prepared for us. But in itself death is only the unclothing of that which is mortal and the passing of the soul into the light, into the presence of Jesus. One leaves that which is defiled and in disorder: what a joy that is? Later on the body will be found again in power and in incorruptible and immortal glory: we have but to wait a little while.
Salute with much affection all your children. I feel truly for them the loss that they are about to sustain. Your dear daughter would have been the joy of any family where she might have been found; she is going to be the joy of that of Christ, for we are entitled to say this. It is a comfort for those who are still journeying here below. God prepares us for heaven by cutting little by little the ties that still attach us, as children of Adam, to earth. Christ takes the place of everything; and thus all goes on well and for the better. May God deign to bless to the whole family this so real sorrow of heart, in which God ever good has mingled with the bitterness of the cup so much of that which is compassionately sparing and gracious.
374 I send this short letter for your daughter; I have been afraid it might be too long; but I feel sure that through the goodness of God she will enjoy this little word, reading it at leisure and when her strength allows of it. She will think of Christ and be refreshed. May God bless you and make you feel His goodness even in this loss.
I would have much liked to see you once down here before your departure; but He who directs all things with perfect love has ordered it otherwise. You go to heaven before me. Death is not an accident that happens without the will of God; it has no more dominion over us: the risen One holds the keys of it. How immensely blessed to know that He has won a complete and final victory over death and over all that was against us, so that there is entire deliverance! We are delivered, save as to the body, out of the scene where evil has its power, and transported where the brightness of God's countenance ever shines in love, where there is light and love only, where God fills the scene according to the favour that He bears to Christ as to the One who has glorified Him in accomplishing redemption, according to the perfections which were shewn forth through that work.
There was a needs be for God to be manifested in these perfections in answer to the work of Christ; it was due that He should respond to the work of Christ in love, in glory, in the expression of the delight that He found in it. The name of His God and Father in love was unfolded in all its splendour; "Thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns." He was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. He then declares that name to His brethren, and Christ praises Him in the midst of the congregation.
This is where I wanted to bring you by these remarks that might otherwise appear somewhat abstract. All this favour shines upon you: what God has been for Christ as man, because Christ glorified God as regards sin that dishonoured Him — what God has been in bringing Christ into His presence in glory, that He is for you, who are the fruit of the travail of His soul. Think of that, dear sister. Moreover, Christ has become infinitely dear to us because of what He has done for us. He gave Himself because He loved unboundedly. There is nothing in Christ that is not yours; He cannot give more than Himself, and what a gift this is!
375 I wrote to you, some time ago, that it is in thinking of Him — of Himself — that one has joy. You are not a joyful Christian. I understand it, I know it: there is discipline in that! Christ has not had the place He ought to have had in your soul. You see, I hide nothing from you. But that is not all: you have not confidence enough in His grace. Own all that might be a cloud between your soul and His love. You do it, I know; but the grace, the deep perfect love of Jesus, the love which is above all our faults, and gave itself for all our sins, the love which took occasion of our very weaknesses to shew its own perfections — of it you do not think enough. That love divine but also personal of the Saviour will fill your heart: Jesus will fill it; and you will be then not only in peace but joyful. I attach more importance to peace than to joy. I would wish to see you habitually in a joy more deep than demonstrative; but if Jesus is in the bottom of your heart, that Jesus who has blotted out all trace of evil in us, in whom we live before God, then your joy will be deep. May it be so.
Oh! that your heart may be filled with Jesus Himself and with His love, and with the sense of His grace. He has saved you, He has washed you, He has become your life, in order that you may enjoy God. What could you have more than Himself? You can see His goodness in the peace that He gives you and in the way in which He surrounds you with such care and affection.
For me, it is only a member of the family going a little before where the whole family will soon dwell. Anywhere else one is only en passage. Soon all will be over for us. How blessed, when every trace of that which has kept us bound in some way or other to this world of misery and evil will have completely disappeared, and when we find ourselves in that light where all is perfect! Therefore trust yourself to His love. I repeat, that He has completely overcome all that is between us and the pure light, as He has perfectly blotted out in us all that which did not suit that light. How good He is! What grace! And you are going to be with Him! How blessed!
Rejoice therefore, dear sister; soon we shall all be there. Yet a little labour and all will be over in the pure glory and in love. You go before us, and in heaven you will have to wait, while the others wait and fulfil their task upon earth.
376 God be with you. May the presence of that faithful and all good Jesus sustain you and rejoice your heart; I trust that such a long letter will not have tired you. I could say many more things yet to you: soon you will know them better than I do; it is a great cause of joy and an immense grace. Peace be unto you. I ask God to bless you, and that does good to one's heart.
So your dear daughter is already in heaven! I thank you, dear sister, for having given me these particulars. Not only did I love her very sincerely, but I also see in her so true a picture of the work of the Spirit in connection with her whole life. When I say "true," I mean that it was not feelings only, such as friends reproduce to enhance the piety of a deceased person, but just what shews a genuine work of God, such as He produces in a soul with the real experiences of that soul. That is worth much more than a few artificial flowers spread over a grave. I feel indeed that the death of your dear daughter will make a great gap in her family, for you and for all. But God disposes of all, and He does all things well. And she is going to be laid (at least, her mortal remains) by her father. Well, they will be raised together. We shall not go much before one another in leaving this world: we shall all be together, blessed be God, when we are raised from the dust. With pleasure I think of that dear brother, that he will awake where there is no care and no pain. He will be near his Saviour, then his daughter with him, and then all the rest, on whom the grave has closed and who have disappeared from this troubled scene.
It seems to me that there is a certain change in my way of feeling touching those who die younger perhaps than I am. There was a time when I used to say to myself, Why, it ought to be your turn, since these go. Now I have more the sense of being dead and of seeing them file off before me to reach the Lord's presence; young or old, what matters it? And I remain here to serve, perhaps until the Lord comes, poor in service (I own), but giving my life to it, and to it alone. Immense privilege! if one only knew how to realize it, a privilege which makes us to be strangers everywhere, and that is, on the whole, a true gain even for the time being.
[END OF DOCTRINAL — VOL. 7]