The sorrow of the sea

(The item below is an abbreviated version of a sermon preached on the Sunday evening after the sinking of the Titanic, by the Scottish preacher, George H. Morrison, and published in his book of sermons, ‘The Afterglow of God’. The text he chose was ‘There is sorrow on the sea’(Jeremiah 49; 23))

There is a sorrow of the hills, where men have died battling for liberty. There is a sorrow of the plains, where the mighty battles of history have been fought. There is a sorrow peculiar to the valleys, where flood and avalanche have wrought their havoc; and there is also a sorrow of the sea. Everything else has been dwarfed for us these days by the appalling disaster which has happened; and to-night I shall try to unfold to you some of the features of the sorrow of the sea.

The sorrow of the sea is a sudden sorrow. One moment everything is usual; the next there is horror and dismay. One moment men are busy with their duties, or are playing, or are peacefully asleep; the next they are face to face with death. It is this element of tragic swiftness that makes the ocean sorrow so appalling.

Another mark of the sorrow of the sea is that it is inaccessible. When some great grief is falling on our home, there is a summoning of the members of the home. In an hour or two, or in a day or two, sons and daughters are gathered by the bed. Loving faces look on one they love. But of all this , in the sorrow of the sea, there is not, and there can never be, anything. Tidings may be flashed of what is happening, but will they bring the others who are dear?

The sorrow of he sea, as a third element, has the power of purifying. I know no sorrow that has made men so noble as he dark and terrible sorrow of the sea. The sorrow of the sea has been a trumpet call to all that is noblest in the heart of man. Men for whom life was sweet have laid down their lives down. They have remembered the women and the children. They have had compassion for the weak. And all this, mark you, on the part of men whom you and I yesterday might have called worldly. It is a lesson to us against judging.

Once more, the sorrow of the sea is a sorrow that makes no distinction. There is a sorrow which only the poor know in their unceasing struggle with adversity. There is a sorrow which only the rich know, for riches carry their own harassments. But in the peculiar sorrow of the sea there is something which runs deeper than distinctions. One hour, this man a millionaire, and that man with five pounds in his pocket. And then the crash and the upheaval, and the facing of death and eternity.

Finally, the sorrow of the sea is one which unites the whole world in sympathy. It is common ground where the deeps roll. Where the icebergs float is universal territory. In these past days, we have experienced that. There is scarce a parliament, scarce a municipality in the civilised world but has expressed its grief. In the mysterious ways of God, such tragedies may be helping on that coming day when the world will have wakened in the Lord Jesus Christ to the glory of the brotherhood of man.’