Monday, July 06, 2009

On the Death of Children

My last post of Chalmers' letter to Mrs. M'Corquodale reminded me of this excerpt from a new book that the Founders Ministry has put out. Below is the chapter by Basil Manly, Sr.

Reflections on the uncertainty of human prospects, and the brevity of life chasten our worldly attachments.

As pilgrims we are reminded that this is not our rest, and are forbidden to love the world or the things of it...

Whith regard to children, particularly, as so large a portion of their lives is spent in helplessness, and so much of their future well-being depends on the care which is bestowed on their infancy and youth, God has opened two abundant fountains in nature to supply the streams of affection.

They are a part of our selves. They take our names, wear our features, and our blood runs in their veins...

The care and attention bestowed on their helpless years endear and strengthen affection - and for the same reason that benevolence is a stronger affection than gratitude...the love of a parent to a child is greater than that of a child to a parent.

Bereavement of children therefore is on this account more poignant and at the same time, the disparity of grief is further increased by the fact that parents have fewer mitigations than children for the most part have.

As to the death of parents, the course of nature leads us to anticipate their departure and the expectation diminishes the shock of this final fall.

But that of children is unexpected. We did not think to survive them, had hoped to be proffered in declining years to live again [with] them, and thus to mingle...with future generations.

Add to this, that in almost every instance there is some peculiarly touching circumstance which is affecting to a parent's mind, more than to that of any other relation...

We are not surprised therefore at the feelings which some have manifested - David for Absalom; Jacob for Joseph - It is what many feel.

This however was immoderate - Jacob afterwards was brought to a better mind. Under more complicated evils of the same kind he said, "If I be bereaved, etc."

Let it be so - explained by Esther 4:16; Acts 21:14.

How shall we hope to arrive at such a state of mind?

Passing by those considerations which are a common relief to all the afflicted, we shall notice those which seem to have contributed to Jacob's resignation.

1. A perception of the hadn of God as our Father in it. In the supposed of loss of Joseph, the peculiar circumstances turned his mind more to the immediate causes. Now he sees the hand of God. Wise, good, merciful, all-sufficient, etc. "I was dumb, etc."

2. The subduing affect of repeated affliction. At first he was like a bullock unaccustomed. What could have persuaded him when he said, "My son shall not go," that he could be brought to consent? The Lord knows how to make us bow to receive the yoke.

3. The conviction that in dismissing Benjamin he was acting out of a sense of duty, as pointed out by Providence. It would seem Jacob had a view to the welfare of them all and probably might not have been without some expectation that the promise of Abraham was now to be fulfilled. Genesis 15:13-14. It is true to some as Joseph said, God sends our children before to save life... They go before to people the new celestial country, and wait to welcome us to our final home.

Let us cease to weep.

1. Moderate attachment - make not food for grief.
2. As Joseph said to Rachel, God with more propriety may say to us, "Am not I better than 10 sons?"
[Marginal note: Preached on Sabbath after the death of my dear little John, who died November 6, 1830 at 1/4 past 6 of Saturday evening. I was absent at the time. This was preached Sabbath, November 14, 1830]

[Marginal note: To this sermon Mrs. Ker Boyce (mother of Dr. J. P. Boyce) referred her conversion. (Sarah Manly)]

[Basil Manly, Sr., "Bereavement of Children," sermon preached on November 14, 1830, Basil Manly Manuscripts Sermons and Notes, James P. Boyce Centenniel Library Archives, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky. Manly based this sermon for John Waldo Manly (see prior chapter in Soldiers of Christ ed. Haykin, Duke, Fuller), on Genesis 43:14, "If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved."]

Manly Sr., Basil Soldiers of Christ: Selections from the Writings of Basil Manly, Sr., & Basil Manly, Jr. (Cape Coral: Founders Press, 2009), 79-81.


Kimberly Rose Carolan said...

This is true that parents do not expect to see their children die, but, at the same time, a young child does not expect to bury a parent. Of course, it will eventually happen, but a, say 5-year-old child does not expect to never see their father again. We expect to bury our parents when we ourselves are more like 40, 50 or 60-years old. That's just my thoughts, anyway, burying my dad when I was 20-years-old.

I think death catches all unawares.

Kim Carolan

Noah Braymen said...


Thanks for balancing out the quote.