This morning I shuffled into my study at the little white Church, and grabbed a green volume of Spurgeon’s Sermons (ubiquitous in most Reformed folk’s libraries I imagine). I was looking for something tweetable that would make me look spiritual and what have you.
I randomly opened the volume to the end of a sermon on Ecclesiastes 7:2, a verse that has perplexed many over the years.
It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.
This is what I read:
“Again; the wise man says: “It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting; for that is the end of all men, and the living will lay it to his heart.” If you go to the “house of feasting,” there is nothing to lay to heart; it is all froth; it is lighter than vanity; it is a bubble; touch it, and it vanishes. But in “the house of mourning,” there is something solemn, which will bear the touch and still endure. In darkness there seems to be something more solid than in sunshine. I feel that when I go to “the house of mourning,” I get something to bring away, and lay to my heart. I wear a garb of feasting; I put on those things that are necessary on such occasions, and there it ends. I have got nothing to lay to heart.
Yet again, the wise man says; “By the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.” It is positively a good thing for us to be sad. When the strings are cut that bind heart to earth, then we can soar. We are chained earth; but there is water in these eyes, which, like aquafortis, can eat away the iron, and set us free. The heart is made better by sorrow, because it is made more free from earth. It is made better by sorrow, again, because it becomes more sensitive, more impressed with the lessons of God’s word. We can shut our ears to the voice of God in mirth; but in “the house of mourning,” we can hear every whisper. It is better to hear of him in this “house of mourning.” The noise of the song doth drown the sill small voice of God; but in the “house of mourning,” you can hear every foot-fall, even the voice of time- that ticking of the clock, which tells now, now, now! “By the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.”
~ Charles Spurgeon “The House Of Mourning, And The House Of Feasting” Volume II Spurgeon’s Sermons p. 101
My Resplendent Bride went home to be with the Lord eight months ago. My home, “The Hermitage” has been the house of mourning. The Lord is at work in delicate and deliberate ways in my life. Not that people who have gone through loss are automatically spiritually sensitive and compassionate. Sometimes searing loss serves to cauterize the heart.
At any rate, I think I know what Ecclesiastes is talking about now, and I think Spurgeon was going somewhere true and deep.