Bishop Turner Upon the Death of his Wife: November 9, 1889

Bishop Turner Upon the Death of his Wife
Christian Recorder: November 9, 1889


MR. EDITOR: -- Three months today, Oct. 19, my wife, my counselor, my staff, my prop, my light, my angel, my cherub, usually called “Hun,” threw off all that was mortal and mounted the skies to await the arrival of those for whom she lived and labored. It has been the darkest three months I ever passed through. Had God answered prayers, I too would have been numbered with the dead; for life to me has been a blank, a void, a deception, a cheat, a cheerless gloom, when viewed from the light of nature. True, when I would turn to God’s Word and read the promises of Holy Writ, a gloom of luster would throw a gloriole around the somber chambers of the tomb, and for a short time, the emotions of hope and faith would chase every melancholy sensation away. But when frail nature attempted to reason out and philosophy upon the problem of death, horror of horrors confronted me at every step. Never before has the impotence of philosophy, science, mathematics and all that constitutes human learning, being so visible, so patent and so transparent. I have studied some English, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, German and a bit of Spanish, read the history of the world, especially its ancient history. I have studied astronomy, geology, anatomy, physiology, chemistry, psychology, law, intellectual moral and natural philosophy. I have nibbled more or less at almost everything in the broad scope of pathology and for the last three years have been trying to overthrow, the gravitational theory of Sir Isaac Newton, and have been studying to show that the universe is run by positive and negative electricity, and therefore that the possible exhaustion of the man’s light and heat is a myth and that the sure will constitute the heaven of all the inhabitants of the solar system.

But I am prepared as ever before, to say that the man who has faith in God, believes the Bible, relies upon its promises and takes God at his word, is the giant of the earth. He is worth more than all the theorists and all that the world calls learned, for they are all dumb at the mouth of the tomb. The tongue of the Bible can only be heard at the grave.

When my wife was dying I laid prostate on the floor and from the death of my writing and anguished heart, I invoked heaven and earth for a word of comfort but none came save, “I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord or “I have the keys to death and to hell” or “Blessed, are the dead that die in the Lord or “I saw the dead small and great stand before God, “Devil and hell delivered up their dead,” and other kindred passages of God’s word. But when Rev. B.A. Hall, P.E., preached that masterly funeral sermon which is now being printed in memory of my wife, and which will be a model sermon of the kind for a generation to come, with supplementary remarks by Rev. S.H. Robertson, P.E., and O.L. Bradwell, I noticed that the Bible only furnished them with such weapons as stripped death of its terror and made the monster the messenger from heaven. How often since, however, has my heart sung within me and frail nature staggered beneath the load and tears would rush to my eyes, while my heart would almost burst. I have explained without due consideration a thousand times. O Lord, why treat me so cruel. But in an instant it would come to me like a flash, millions of wives have died before mine was born. Tears enough have been shed by the stroke of death to overflow the banks of the Mississippi River. Bones enough has been unfleshed by death by death to vie with the Rocky Mountains were they thrown in a heap. While I never expect to look at my wife’s likeness without weeping, nor do I care if I cannot, for her virtues and graces were worth a thousand years weep. And if I chose to take an occasional cry, thank God, it is nobody’s business but mine. I can cry as much as I please, and I bless God that I can weep tears by streams. If I had eyes that could not weep, I would regard myself a brute. It is mainly honorable and gallant to cry for a good wife. A man that is too mean-hearted to weep for his wife is a dog, and if he ever attempts to court another woman he ought to be hung. If I were a woman and a widower were to request my company to church, before I committed to walking with him, I should ask him if he wept for a month when his wife died, and if he said no, I should say, be gone, sir.

Yes, I ought to complain. We were married thirty-three years, she sixteen and I about twenty-two years of age. While she was small, never weighing a hundred pounds in her life, most of the time eighty-seven, she was nevertheless a power in spirit and influence.

I shall conclude this letter by saying that I refrain from writing up to this time (since the sad event) because I had no heart for such work. I shall forever contribute my par graphical notes especially, as I am urged to do so, both by the editor and others. Still, I know I am too busy to bother with them. But if your readers wish my off thrown thoughts, I will give them at later vale, however crudely they may be buried off. It is useless to stop work because I am a mourner, for I will be a mourner as long as I live. I shall never cease mourning the loss of that saintly wife till I meet her on the other shore. God be with me till we meet again.