Directions for Grief at the Death of Friends

How practical were the Puritans! Here is an excerpt from Richard Baxter’s (1615 – 1691) Directions for Grief at the Death of Friends:

To overcome your inordinate grief for the death of your relations, consider these things following.

1. That excess of sorrow is your sin: and sinning is an ill use to be made of your affliction.

2. That it tends to a great deal more: it unfits you for many duties which you are bound to, as to rejoice in God, and to be thankful for mercies, and cheerful in his love, and praise, and service: and is it a small sin to unfit yourselves for the greatest duties?

3. If you are so troubled at God’s disposal of his own, what does your will but rise up against the will of God; as if you grudged at the exercise of his dominion and government, that is, that he is God! Who is wisest, and best, and fittest to dispose of all men’s lives? Is it God or you? Would you not have God to be the Lord of all, and to dispose of heaven and earth, and of the lives and crowns of the greatest princes? If you would not, you would not have him to be God. If you would, is it not unreasonable that you or your friends only should be excepted from his disposal?

4. If your friends are in heaven, how unsuitable is it, for you to be overmuch mourning for them, when they are rapt into the highest joys with Christ; and love should teach you to rejoice with them that rejoice, and not to mourn as those that have no hope.

5. You know not what mercy God showed to your friends, in taking them away from the evil to come, you know not what suffering the land or church is falling into; or at least might have fallen upon themselves; nor what sins they might have been tempted to. But you are sure that heaven is better than earth, and that it is far better for them to be with Christ.

6. You always knew that your friends must die; to grieve that they were mortal, is but to grieve that they were but men.

7. If their mortality or death be grievous to you, you should rejoice that they are arrived at the state of immortality, where they must live indeed and die no more.

8. Remember how quickly you must be with them again. The expectation of living on yourselves, is the cause of your excessive grief for the death of friends. If you looked yourselves to die to-morrow, or within a few weeks, you would less grieve that your friends are gone before you.

9. Remember that the world is not for one generation only; others must have our places when we are gone; God will be served by successive generations, and not only by one.

10. If you are christians indeed, it is the highest of all your desires and hopes to be in heaven; and will you so grieve that your friends are gone thither, where you most desire and hope to be?

Baxter concludes by answering how we are to be comforted if we believe our loved one died without Christ. Go read it!

2 Replies to “Directions for Grief at the Death of Friends”

  1. And to think that the Puritans have been accused of being unsympathetic, and more concerned about how people behaved than they were about the people themselves.

    It’s a wonder why Jesus bothered to heal people, when he had compassion on them, instead of just sending them on to “the state of immortality”.

    I’ll be the first to agree that Christians have a hope in death. But show me a Christian who does not cry over the death of a loved one, and I’ll show you a Lord who did.

    God forbid that the day will ever come when my heart is not grieved over the earthly loss of a brother or sister in Christ. Amen

  2. Paul,
    In response to your twitter entry,(8 hours ago); very few ever come as close to the exact point as you just did here.~~~~Entered below is one of the greatest pictures in all of the sacred page.

    “If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account;

    I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it:”

    Thank you Lord for the sacrifice of Calvary!

    What can wash away my sin?
    Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

    It is enough that Jesus died, and that he died for me!

    It still remains the “sweetest story” I have ever been told; and thus, I cry out with the poet of old; Tell me the old old story, of Jesus and his love.

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