Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

The company of the wicked corrupts

Under the law, one who touched any dead carcass was defiled. And one who had a running sore—even if he was to wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water—he would be unclean until the evening. Now, if thus that which only represented sin, defiled under the ceremonial law—how must sin itself, the source of all uncleanness, everywhere defile! Alas! As he was rendered unclean, if he had but touched, though unawares, the bed whereon one who had the running sore lay; so am I defiled, not only by sin rising in my own bosom—but by hearing and seeing the sin of others! For the corruption of my nature is so great, that I am ready to catch the contagion. And if I do not detest, hate, and abhor it, as I should—then am I polluted by it.

How pernicious, then, is the presence of the ungodly! How are these these fools to be avoided, whose companions are sure to be destroyed! How gloomy that company, and how disagreeable to enter into it, where God never comes, where his glory never shines! Surely grace rather needs oil to support its flame, than water to extinguish its fire; but water is all I can expect from the wicked. O! miserable man, who has no other to walk with you by day, no other to talk with by night, none else to deal with abroad, or to discourse with at home! Yet, out of the world we must go, unless we have dealings with the men of the world. Let that, however be only in the common affairs of life, let it be dispatched with little expense of precious time, and without contracting an intimate acquaintance with them—unless in view of doing good to their immortal souls. And still, may the saints, the excellent ones of the earth—be the chosen companions of my life.

Hitherto, alas! I have been ignorant of my danger; for the wicked are ever casting arrows, fire-brands, and death, in their sporting with true religion, and trifling with a world to come! Among such madmen must I not be wounded? Hence, let me every day beware that their filth may not cleave to me; and bathe myself in the righteousness of the Son of God by faith; and purge my daily walk, (which, like the flesh under the law, is apt to receive the infection,) by sincere repentance; that, at the evening of my life, I may not lie down polluted in the grave, and rise in the morning of eternity with the putrefaction of sin!