That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death;
The letter of condolence written by Sulpicius to his friend Cicero who was mourning the loss of his beloved daughter, beautiful as it is, shows us that the best comfort which sentiment and philosophy can offer, is utterly powerless to bind up the broken heart. "Why grieve?" asks the sympathizing Roman, doing all that kindness and ingenuity could suggest to comfort his afflicted friend. "Surely after seeing your country enslaved, your heart should be indifferent to so small a matter as the loss of a poor, weak, tender woman." And then Sulpicius gravely adds, as if such considerations could console the afflicted, "Do not forget that you are Cicero — the wise, the philosophical Cicero, who was wont to give advice to others. Remember those judicious counsels now, and let it not be said that fortitude is the single virtue to which my friend is a stranger." Philosophy had not quite expended itself in these vapid platitudes, but the chief ground of comfort was reserved for the last. "In my return out of Asia," the well-meaning Sulpicius goes on to say, "as I was sailing from AEgina towards Megara, I amused myself with contemplating the circumjacent countries. Behind me lay AEgina, before me Megara; on my right I saw Piraeus, and on my left Corinth. These cities, once so flourishing and magnificent, now presented nothing to my view but a sad spectacle of desolation. Alas, I said to myself, shall such a short-lived creature as man complain, when one of his race falls either by the hand of violence, or by the common cause of nature, while in this narrow compass so many great and glorious cities, formed for a much longer duration, thus lie extended in ruins?" Cold comfort, this! Would such reasoning help you to dry your scalding tears? Does it not seem like a hollow mockery of the heart's great grief? When, however, "the power of Christ's resurrection" is known and felt, with what different eyes we look upon the grassy mounds which cover the remains of the departed! The dismal spot is changed at once into a field sown with the seeds of immortality. The Saviour's blood-stained banner, emblazoned with the cross, which is carried before His people, in their triumphal march, bears the cheering inscription, "I am the resurrection and the life!"
(J. N. Norton.)
Parallel VersesKJV: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;