The loss of a child is perhaps the most heart-wrenching of all losses. From a centuries-old letter, we read the words of a bereaved father, grieving the loss of his son but steadfast in faith in his Saviour.
A letter from William Romaine (1714-1795) to an unidentified friend.
My good friend,
I never was more obliged to you than for your Christian sympathy with us in this time of need. It is a great trial, but it is the Lord who has a right to do what He will with His own. It is my Lord, my old Friend, who never alters His love to me. He has acted for His own glory, and has done the best–what more would I wish? Nothing, but only for His grace to make me submit to His sovereign will.
I could wish He would have spared my son–my soul delighted in him. He was a sweet youth. The remembrance of his person and manners and behavior, his dutifulness (for he never offended me but once in his life), his upright conduct–these draw tears from my eyes while I am writing. I do feel as a parent; I am no stoic.
But thanks be to my good God, His grace conquers nature. The struggle is hard, but God is with me–and through Him, I conquer myself.
He forces me to go to Him every moment for His support and His comforts. I have no stock of resignation. It is outside of myself, laid up in the fullness of Jesus; and while I live upon Him for it,
He helps me to kiss His chastening rod. He keeps my rebel will under control, and teaches me to say from my heart, “Not my will, Lord, but may Your will be done.”
Such is the kindness of my Jesus, for which I adore and worship Him.
“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away.”
He has a right to do what He will with His own. He has enabled me to reply, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” And I do praise Him for giving me some of Job’s resignation, that I could use his words with the same spirit.
About William Romaine (1714-1795)
William Romaine was an evangelical priest of the AnglicanChurch, and the author of an acclaimed three-part treatise on faith, The Life, the Walk, and the Triumph of Faith. Romaine was ordained in 1734, after receiving his BA from Oxford. After serving in a church for a short time, he returned to Oxford to begin studies for his MA (1737). In a letter written in 1766, Romaine told of his entering into a deeper, truer, relationship with Jesus in 1745. Written in third person, Romain declared his spiritual conditon prior to 1745 when he received Jesus (probably circa 1745):
“He was a very vain, proud man, who knew almost everything but himself, and therefore was very fond of himself. He met with many disappointments to his pride, which only made him prouder, till the Lord was pleased to let him see the plague of his own heart. He tried every method that can be tried to find peace, but found none. In his despair of all things else, he betook himself to Jesus and was most kindly received.”
Bishop JC Ryle worte of William Romaine after his death:
“[Romaine] stood alone with almost no backers, supporters or fellow labourers. He stood in the same place constantly preaching to the same hearers and was not able, like Whitefield, Wesley, Grimshaw and other itinerant brethren, to preach old sermons. And he witnessed to truths which were most unpopular and brought upon him opposition, persecution and scorn. He stood in a public post, continually observed by unfriendly eyes, ready to detect faults in a moment if he committed them. Yet during all these years he maintained a blameless character, firmly held to his principles to the last and died at length like a good soldier at his post.”
Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith...
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