Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

Degrees of nearness to God

There are different degrees of nearness to God, which the saints enjoy. One of these is essential to the very being of piety in the soul; namely, when the lost soul is brought near to God, through the blood of Jesus, and made a fellow-citizen with the saints, and of the household of God. But, another and higher step is the special indulgence of Heaven to some saints, and but at some times. In the nearness of faith, (for none that have true faith can be far from God,) I walk with God in the duties of religion. In the nearness of sense, he sometimes walks with me in special manifestation—of himself, of his love, and his glory.

The one is sure and satisfying; the other is sweet and comforting. Without the approaches of faith, I cannot expect sensible communion. But I may have the first, when the last is withheld from me. The one is my daily allowance from the King's table, without which I could not live. But the other is my sitting down at the table with the King, to the feast made by him, for the joy of his chosen ones. The one makes me obtain the victory over the world; the other makes me weary of the world.

The former is the King's highway to heaven; and in the latter, I walk on it in the sunshine of his presence. The one gives a continual relish of spiritual things; the other, a refreshful foretaste of heaven and of glory. In the first, I have access to God in all my perplexities, that I may not despair; but I am favored with the last only at times, that I may not presume. The joy of the first excels the worldling's gladness from all his abundance, as far as light excels darkness; but the joy of the last is a akin to the joy of saints in glory. In acts of lively faith, the world is to me but rubbish and loss, for the excellency of the glorious object; but in near access to, and communion with my Lord, I would gladly put off corruption, put on immortality, and become an inhabitant of the world above. O how does a beauty beam on my soul, in the few moments of communion, as if heaven opened before me, and eternal day shone full in my face! What sacred joy prevails within, and how am I refreshed in every power!

Though the Christian must not build on them, since without them his soul may live, yet they are not, as scoffers would affirm—delusion, enthusiasm, and such like. For always after this divine fellowship—Christ is dearer to me, self more loathsome, sin more odious, the world more vain, piety more pleasant, my affections more refined, my desires more on spiritual things, and heaven more desirable.

But now, if a pleasure so great, of which we can only conceive while we enjoy it—springs from a few moments communion in a more glorious way than usual, (for every has saint communion with God,) how divine is a pious life! And what a tragic scene is the most pleasant life of the most mirthful sinner, compared to this! And, in a word, what must the life of glory be, where communion, of a greater nature than ever known below, shall be the privilege of all the heavenly family! where God shall shine in all his glory, and shed abroad his love in every glowing heart! and where it shall be the ineffable bliss of every ardent adorer, to see more and more of God's goodness, and approach nearer and nearer to him, in the uninterrupted freedom of rapturous communion, through an endless evermore!