Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

The Threefold State

Three changes go over the NATURAL world:
1. the black and dark night;
2. the fair and beauteous moon-shine;
3. the bright and noon-day beams.

The same also prevail in the RATIONAL world: There is the black and dark night of a natural state, in which the unconverted nations sit. There is the fair moon-light of grace, in which the saints walk until admitted into the eternal sunshine of glory in the highest heavens.

Night sat on the face of the deep at first, until God said, "Let there be light," and scattered the eternal darkness with his manifesting ray. So every soul is not only in darkness—but darkness itself, until made light in the Lord. This darkness would be eternal—did not the divine beams break in upon the soul, and dispel the awful gloom.

There is a vast disproportion between those nights which are overcast with thick and heavy clouds, when the moon shines not, and not a star appears—but the angry heavens open in tremendous thunders, as if about to convey our destruction from the chambers of the sky, while the glaring lightnings, only like so many torches—flash, to make our funeral more solemnly dismal.

And there are also those nights when not a star is hidden—but in the beauty of the full-faced moon, which sheds a day in comparison of the former night, through the serene skies, on the silent earth, where not the least breath of wind is felt, nor the least confusion heard.

But the disproportion is still greater between those that remain in their natural state, and those that are renewed in the spirit of their mind. For the poor sinner is in perpetual fear of being consumed by the angry thunders, and devoured by the wrath of the Almighty; nor is his case less deplorable by his insensibility, for he shall at last be awakened with a vengeance, when he shall find his misery consummate, without any possibility of redemption! But the happy saint has a whole heaven shining on him, all the divine perfections smiling in his face, everything around him quiet, and everything within tranquil. Nor can afflictions of any kind, or of any quantity, or any continuance, deprive him of this peace which passes understanding.

Now, we have this pleasant moon-light properly from the sun, being part of his emanations received by her, and reflected on us—So all the beauties and excellences of grace are like so much divine glory seen through a glass, or reflected on us from the word of truth—by the operation and blessing of the Spirit of all grace.

Again, if we only enjoyed nights, beauteous by the unclouded moon and transparent sky, and knew that this light was from the sun, how would we long for day—to be lighted with beholding that bright orb! Yet I very much question if we could conceive of the sun according to that transcendent brightness whereby he illuminates the extensive sky. We might conceive him to be beauteous like the moon; and a vast deal larger—but could never form any just idea of his fiery beams, insufferable rays, and sparkling effulgence—too bright to be beheld by our weak eyes.

Even so, while so many excellences, and so much beauty, are to be found in sacred things, in true piety, here in this day of grace, which is all but a part of Immanuel's glory reflected; how divinely bright must the Sun of righteousness shine above! What amiable beauty! What assimilating beams! What adorable perfections! What magnificent emanations! What entrancing delights! What majesty and splendor shall pour from him above! Our thoughts recoil on us, and our apprehensions fail—when we think on his infinite glory. This created sun, which we so much admire, would disappear in the presence of one of his remotest rays, as happened when Paul was converted.

What brightness, what effulgence, what emanations—where he sheds around all his glory! No cloud, no eclipse, no mist, no decline, no setting—to lessen his eternal blaze! Surely, now our thoughts are in the dark about this Sun of righteousness, and Fountain of glory. When admitted to perfect vision, we shall find that our clearest apprehensions and brightest uptakings of him below, differed but a small degree from ignorance. How ineffably, how inconceivably glorious must he shine above! when on the blessed beholders around the throne, life descends in every ray, assimilation in every beam, transport and delight in the eternal emanations of all his divine perfections!

How is it, then, that when I have seen something of the beauty of grace, I have not more desire to see all the excellences of glory? How is it, that I have not more desire to turn about from the reflective glass, and see him face to face? How is it, that I have not more desire to scale the wall behind which he stands, and see him as he is? How is it, that I have not more desire to change the transient glance into an eternal beholding of him in his glory? How is it that I do not watch with more concern for the morning-light and look out more eagerly for the dawning of eternal day? Is night to be preferred—to noon? or created joys—to the pleasures that overflow in the divine presence? Finish, then, your work with me, and glorify yourself by me, before I go hence and be no more. Then, through the same grace shall I say, and with the same sincerity as it was at first spoken, "I have a desire to be depart, and to be with Christ—which is far better!"