“WHOSE sorrow is like unto my sorrow?”
Such is the language of the stricken soul, such the outbreak of feeling, when affliction darkens the horizon of man’s sunny hopes, and dashes the full cup of blessings suddenly from the expectant lips.
“Console me not; you have not felt this pang,” cries the spirit in agony, to the kind friend who is striving to pour the balm of consolation in the wounded heart.
“But I have known worse,” is the reply.
“Worse! never, never; no one could suffer more keenly than I now do, and live.”
In vain the friend reasons; sorrow is always more or less selfish; it absorbs all other passions; it consecrates itself to tears and lamentations, and the bereaved one feels alone; utterly alone in the world, and of all mankind the most forsaken. Every heart knoweth its own bitterness, and there is a canker spot on every human plant in God’s garden. Some are blighted and withered, ready to fall from the stalk; others are blooming while a blight is at the root.
What right have you to say, because you droop and languish, that your neighbour, with a fair exterior and upright mien, is all that his appearance indicates? What evidence have you that because you suffer from want, and your neighbour rides in his carriage, that he is, therefore, more abundantly blessed, more contentedly happy than you?
As you walk through the streets of costly and beautiful mansions, you feel vaguely, that, associated with so much of beauty, of magnificence and ease, there must be absolute content, enviable freedom, unmixed pleasure, and constant happiness. How deplorably mistaken. Here, where gold and crimson drape the windows, is mortal sickness; there, where the heavy shutters fold over the rich plate glass, lies shrouded death. Here, is blasted reputation, there, is an untold and hideous grief. Here, is blighted love, striving to look and be brave, but with a bosom corroded and full of bitterness; there the sad conduct of a wayward child. Here is the terrible neglect of an unkind and perhaps idolized husband; there the wilful and repeated faults of an unfaithful wife. Here is dread of bankruptcy, there dread of dishonour or exposure. Here is bitter hatred, lacking only the nerve to prove another Cain. There silent and hidden disease, working its skilful fangs about the heart, while it paints the cheek with the very hue of health. Here is undying remorse in the breast of one who has wronged the widow and the fatherless; there the suffering being the victim of foul slander; here is imbecility, there smothered revenge. The bride and the belle, both so seemingly blessed, have each their sacred but poignant sorrow.
Have you a worse grief than your neighbour? You think you have; you have buried your only child–he has laid seven in the tomb. Seven times has his heart been rent open; and the wounds are yet fresh; he has no hope to sustain him; he is a miserable man, and you are a Christian.
Have you more trouble than your neighbour? You have lost your all–no, no, say not so; your neighbour has lost houses and lands, but his health has gone also; and while you are robust, he lies on the uneasy pillow of sickness, and watches some faithful menial prepare his scanty meal, and then waits till a trusty hand bears the food to his parched lips.
Do you suffer more than your neighbour? True; Saturday night tests your poverty; you have but money enough for the bare necessaries of life; your children dress meagerly, and your house is scantily furnished; you do not know whether or not work will be forthcoming the following week. Your neighbour sees not, nor did he ever see, want. House, wife and children are sumptuously provided for; his barn is a palace to your kitchen. Step into his parlour and look at him for a moment; papers surround him, blazing Lehigh floods the grate, velvet carpets yield to the step; luxurious chairs invite to rest–check the sigh of envy; there is a ring at the bell–hurrying footsteps on the stairs–a jarring sound against the polished door, and in bursts the rich man’s son, his brow haggard, his eyes fierce and red. He is a notorious profligate; gambling is his food and drink, debauchery his glory and his ruin. Would you be that father? Go back to your honest sons and look in their faces; throw the bright locks from their brows, and bless God that there the angel triumphs over the brute; be even thankful that you are not burdened with corrupt gold, for their sakes; say not again that you suffer more than your neighbour.