Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799


Faith is a divine grace, and the very life of the soul below. Hence we are said to "walk by faith;" and if our lives are spiritual, it is by faith in the Son of God that we live the spiritual life.

It is a strange definition of faith given by the apostle to the Hebrews, yet divinely true; "Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for—the evidence of things not seen." That is, though we can only hope for those felicities and glories which are future; yet faith, in its glorious acts, can suck the honey and marrow out of them, so as to supply the soul even in the present time, with the substance of that which is still future; and by refreshful foretastes of bliss, bring the brightest evidences of celestial excellences, which are not visible to flesh and blood. Thus by the first-fruits of glory, the soul is ascertained of entering into the land of promise. Faith is begun vision, or seeing things at a distance, and through a glass—Vision is faith finished or perfected, and seeing things at hand, and with the naked eye. Faith is the bond of union between God and the soul, which can never be broken by all that can befall us in the world; "for this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith." He who believes in God endures all things, as seeing him who is invisible, and waits for the brighter, the diviner views of glory.

Faith is a mutual inhabitation. It is Christ in the soul; hence says the apostle, "I live, yet not I—but Christ lives in me." Faith is also the soul in Christ; hence we are said to "put on Christ," and, being dead to the world and to sin, to have our spiritual life hidden with Christ in God. Faith brings to God the greatest honor—and to the soul the greatest happiness; as unbelief does the opposite of both. Faith accounts him faithful who has promised, and composes all within. While unbelief makes the God of truth a liar, and sets the whole soul, in all her powers and faculties, in an uproar. Faith has won its victories, wrought its miracles, and done wonders in the world; "for to him who believes, all things are possible."

A 'warrantable faith' never fell short of its expectation; yes, often has the goodness of God gone beyond the faith of his saints. Everything for which I pray in faith shall be granted, and mountains shall become a plain, and seeming impossibilities disappear. Yet I am not to pray for impossibilities; for though to God all things are possible, yet I could not pray in faith, (and whatever is not of faith is sin,) for things I am convinced I have no warrant in the word of God to seek or expect; such as, for the sun to stand still, water to flow out of a rock, seas to divide, and rivers to part asunder; though all these things have been done.

Again, I am not to pray for or expect things to be done in a miraculous manner for me, when in the common course of providence, whatever I need can be bestowed on me. I am not to expect the heavens to drop down manna to supply my daily necessity, or that my clothes should wear forty years without waxing old; but I am to believe, in the midst of my needs, that I shall be every day supplied in a greater or lesser degree, as seems good to God, by the same liberal hand that showered down the manna in the wilderness; and perhaps in a manner that shall convince me of his special care, and confirm my belief of his singular favor, as much as if the drops of rain were turned into bread for me. His exercising his providence in providing me with clothing, should be as endearing to me, as if he exerted his power in keeping what I had from waxing old. But, if I am shut up in some circumstances, where, as far as I can see nothing less than a miracle can deliver—then faith is to believe the miracle, rather than doubt the promise, or distrust the power of God—as if anything were too hard for him.

But, how comfortable is it, that when I pray, with submission to the divine disposal, only for warrantable things, in faith. Then I may be assured that I shall both be heard and answered! But, if I doubt, then unbelief overturns all—and this is the reason why I cannot prevail. How terrible, amidst my petitions, to doubt if God is able and willing to perform my request, when he has declared himself in the affirmative in both! When I do so, I turn the great God into a mere feeble creature—in denying his power; and (O horrid!) into a liar—thinking that he has no intention to perform his promise. I see, then, that I should make my petitions with submission, leaving it wholly to God, what he will refuse, what he will choose for me. But that to doubt his love, his power, his faithfulness, is a heinous sin—his power to perform to the extent of the promise, either as to spiritual or temporal things—his faithfulness, that he will perform whatever he has promised—or his love, which, so to speak, waits and longs for the fittest opportunities when his glory and my good may be most advanced in performing the promise for me. Now, as his glory rises, so should my felicity—as I should count it all my happiness to have his glory set on high.

Faith, then, is a triumphant grace. By faith, wrestling Jacob prevailed; and Jacob's wrestling sons still prevail with God. Faith always wins the day, secures the blessing, and is never sent away empty. Faith will not, cannot be denied. And by this boldness and confidence of faith, which is the gift of God, God is greatly glorified. Faith looks above created opposition, dwells in eternity, and hangs on the omnipotent arm of God. It wraps itself up in the promise, and cannot be divided from it until it is performed in every respect. Faith is not terrified at storms, nor disquieted by disappointments—but looks beyond the storm; above the disappointment; rests on the compassion of God; and fastens on the faithfulness of its glorious Author and Finisher.

Faith stretches beyond the narrow confines of time, and takes broad views of the world to come. Faith takes a tour through the land of bliss, the Canaan above, and converses with eternal ages. Faith, looking to the Promiser, sees the way of duty plain; while fear cries out, "There is a lion in the streets—I shall be slain! There is danger and difficulty in the way—I cannot go." Surely, to him who believes, all things are possible! But to him that doubts, a mole-hill becomes a mountain! In after ages, I shall be ashamed of my fears and unbelief—but never of my faith. Henceforth let me be strong in the faith—with submission; make my requests—with resignation; pray in the confidence of being heard; and believe all things—with patience and composure.