Samuel Johnson’s wife Elizabeth (1689-1752)
(After 27 days) Almighty and most merciful Father… look down with pity upon my sorrows, and grant that the affliction which it has pleased thee to bring upon me may awaken my conscience, enforce my resolutions of a better life, and impress upon me such conviction of thy power and goodness, that I may place in thee my only happiness, and endeavor to please thee in all my thoughts, words, and actions. Grant, O Lord, that I may not languish in fruitless and unavailing sorrow, but that I may consider from whose hand all good and evil is received… Grant, O merciful God, that by the assistance of thy Holy Spirit I may be comforted, obtain that peace which the world cannot give, pass the residue of my life in humble resignation and cheerful obedience; and when it shall please thee to call me from this mortal state, resign myself into thy hands with faith and confidence, and finally obtain mercy and everlasting happiness, for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen.
(After 28 days) O Lord, our heavenly Father, in whose hands are life and death, who givest and takest away, castest down and raisest up, look with mercy on the affliction of thy unworthy servant… and speak peace to my troubled soul. Grant me the assistance and comfort of thy Holy Spirit, that I may remember with thankfulness the blessings so long enjoyed by me in the company of my departed wife; make me so to think on her precepts and example, that I may imitate whatever was in her life acceptable in thy sight, and avoid all by which she offended thee… And now, O Lord, release me from my sorrow; fill me with just hopes, true faith, and holy consolations; and enable me to do my duty in that state of life to which Thou hast been pleased to call me, without disturbance from fruitless grief, or tumultuous imaginations; that in all my thoughts, words, and actions, I may glorify thy Holy Name, and finally obtain, what I hope thou hast granted to thy departed servant, everlasting joy and bliss, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
(After 39 days) O Lord God, our heavenly Father, without whom all purposes are frustrated and all efforts are vain, grant me the assistance of thy Holy Spirit so that I may not sorrow as one without hope. May I now return to the duties of my present state with humble confidence in thy protection. I pray that you so govern my thoughts and actions, that neither business may withdraw my mind from Thee, nor idleness lay me open to vain imaginations; that neither praise may fill me with pride, nor censure with discontent; but that in the changes of this life, I may fix my heart upon the reward which Thou hast promised them that serve Thee. And that whatever things are true, whatever are pure, whatever are lovely, whatever are of good report, wherein there is virtue and praise, I may think upon and do, and obtain mercy and everlasting happiness. Grant this, O Lord, for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen.
(After two years…four years…six years) Almighty God, sanctify unto me the reflections and resolutions of this day. Let not my sorrow be unprofitable; let not my resolutions be in vain. Grant that my grief may produce true repentance, so that I may live and please thee… Grant me that the loss of my wife may teach me the true use of the blessings which are yet left me, and that however bereft of worldly comforts, I may find peace and refuge in thy service… May my affliction be sanctified, and that remembering how much every day brings me nearer to the grave, I may every day purify my mind and amend my life, by the assistance of thy Holy Spirit, till at last I shall be accepted by Thee, for Jesus sake. Amen.
John 16:20 — (Jesus said), “I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.”
I Thessalonians 4:13-18 — Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.
PRAYER AFTER THE DEATH OF A GOOD FRIEND by Samuel Johnson:
O Lord God, almighty disposer of all things, in whose hands are life and death, who givest comforts and takest them away, I return Thee thanks for the good example of H. Boothby, whom Thou hast now taken away. I implore thy grace, that I may improve the opportunity of instruction which Thou hast afforded me, by the knowledge of her life, and by the sense of her death; that I may consider the uncertainty of my present state, and apply myself earnestly to the duties which Thou hast set before me; that living in Thy fear, I may die in thy favor, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.