Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

The Bible a storehouse of instructions

Man is not only a worm as to his origen—but a beast as to his knowledge. Hence the most sagacious of Adam's sons would be but fools in things that concern them most, without this divine monitor, the Scripture. Here I am informed when the world began, and who was my first parent, the grand representative and federal head of all his offspring; how sin and death entered into the world, and how both are done away. Hence the mystery of a three-one God shines with solemn effulgence; while the glorious, amiable, and divine work of redemption, darts comfort and surprise on the enraptured inquirer. By the scriptures of truth, the concerns of a future world are clearly presented to me. Would I be a member of Christ, and have his righteousness made mine? Well, the Scriptures tell me how I may become the one, and be clothed with the other. Would I flee from the wrath to come? Here the way lies plain, and the place where I can be safe. If sin presses hard upon me, they show me where to cast my sins. If short-comings and weakness vex me, the Scriptures shows me whence to draw my strength, and in whom I am complete. They counsel me in my doubts, and shine upon my darkness. Not a calamity can I be in—but they can cheer. Not a step I need to take—but they can direct.

Am I a son of Zion? Then I am to seek her peace, her welfare, and prosperity. Is the church in distress? I am to give God no rest until he establishes her, and makes her a praise through the whole earth. Does he hide his face from me? Then I am to seek, nor cease to seek him, until I find the Beloved of my soul. Do I pine by his blow? Yet at the work of his hand I am to be silent. Does he remove my relations by death? Still I am to hold my peace, and even subscribe 'Amen'. Am I injured? That I am to forgive. Am I reproached? This I am to pass by. Do men despitefully use me? For them I am to pray. Must I leave from this world? Then I am to pass my time only as a sojourner, not a fixed inhabitant. Do I enjoy human friendship? That is to be improved in speaking on divine things. Am I among sinners—Then I am to reprove. Among saints? These I am to imitate. Have I a house? It is to be a place of righteousness. Have I a family? They and I, are to serve the Lord—whatever others may do.

Again, am I sorrowful? I am to pray. Am I in severe afflictions? Yet then in patience I am to possess my soul. Am I in a warfare? I am to take to myself the whole armor of God. Have I tribulations? In and under them I am still to rejoice. Am I poor? I am to seek for my riches that treasure that is eternal in the heavens. Have I riches? In them I am not to trust—but in the living God, who gives me all things richly to enjoy. Do I rejoice? It is to be only in the Lord. Am I merry? I am to sing psalms. Have I affections? They are to be set on things above. My conversation is to be in heaven, and my soul a temple for the Holy Spirit to dwell in.

In Scripture, parents and children, masters and servants, and every relation, are clearly instructed in their relative duties to one another. Here the king is taught how to reign, and the subject how to obey; the judge how to conduct every trial, and how to pass sentence; the sinner how to become a saint, and the saint how to grow in every grace.

Here I am instructed what company to choose—and what to shun; whom to esteem and delight in, whom to pity, and for whom to pray. Here I am admonished how to behave as a public or private person towards men of every rank, in peace or war, as victor or vanquished.

Here are the infallible rules whereby I may know the state of my soul, and if my claim for future bliss is well grounded, or founded on delusive dreams. Here I learn what things I should be concerned about; and how to estimate created things, and all the gaudy pomp of time. In a word, here I am taught how to have my heart in heaven—while living on earth; how to ripen for glory, and bring glory to God.