Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

How to be rich in Heaven

If it is prudent to provide for the time to come—how much more so to provide for eternity! While to be rich in this world is the passion of thousands—to be rich in eternity should be my passion. An appetite after earthly grandeur, betrays a sordid heart, and a base soul—but an ambition to be great in heaven, is worthy of an heir of God, of an expectant of glory. For it is to the honor of the supreme Potentate, that all his subjects be nobles, be priests, be kings.

In this short lifetime is the foundation laid of things of eternal consequence—and true wisdom will teach me to send all my treasures there. It deserves little or no pity to be poor in this world—but poverty in in eternity is deplorable beyond the reach of compassion. Temporal losses may distress me; but such is the brevity of life, that while I complain I expire, and then I am possessed of all the treasures of glory, of all the fullness of God. And yet, according to the capacity of glorified saints, shall that same undiminished fullness be possessed in greater or lesser degree.

"How rich did he die?" is the speech of fools at the decease of an acquaintance or friend. But none ever die rich but true Christians; for, how can that man be said to die rich, when the very moment of his dissolution robs him of his all.

"Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven," is the admonition of the dear Redeemer. Let me, then, lay down a plan for myself—how to be rich for eternity.

1. Then, presupposing that I am in a gracious state, I must have a godly contempt of the world. No man ever filled his coffers with sand; no monarch ever wore a pebble in his crown; so the soul that lays up his treasures in heaven, will not concern himself with perishing trifles. If my affections are not weaned from the creature, and set on things above—I shall be but poor in the eternal world.

2. I must be watchful in all things. The man who is anxious to be rich will not waste a penny; so must I watch my actions, my thoughts, my words. Again, I must against all my secret sins, and also to reprove the transgressor. A bold and sincere reproof of sin, is a stroke against the enemies of the King, from which a palm of victory shall spring in the world of glory. I must also speak in commendation of the land of glory—that others may be encouraged to set out for the land of promise. And could I bring many with me, I would be the more welcome to the seats of bliss.

Again, I must watch against worldly sorrow. Should the heir of a crown lament the loss of a feather? What can death do in a godly family? It may separate them a little while—but it is only to meet again forever. Worldly riches give their owners joy—but joy in the Lord increases spiritual riches. So I must guard against carnal delight; none of the mirthful things of time must be objects of my affection. It would be contemptible for a noble personage to be charmed with a hut, who has a palace prepared for him. It would be contemptible for an heir of God to sit down and feed on the refuse of worldly vanities. Again, I must beware of carnal company. These are bankrupts that will spend at my expense, and whatever loss I make by them, yet in their company I shall never be able to add a mite to my celestial treasure. How can I be safe among robbers? They may rob me of a holy frame of mind, wound my conscience, and at last leave me with a bleeding heart—which may pain me many days.

3. To grow rich for the world to come, I must study to be heavenly-minded, not by fits and starts—but in one constant, steady, holy frame of spirit. Thus every duty will be my delight; prayer and praise, like my daily food, always pleasant; attendance on the public ordinances, like walking in the King's palace-garden; reading the Scriptures, like conferring with the dearest friend; and self-examination, like the merchant from a far country, counting over his rich jewels and precious gems, inspecting his gold and silver, that it has the king's stamp, and so be sterling money; that his graces, his duties, his attainments, are approved by Scripture and conscience.

4. Holy meditations will mightily augment the spiritual riches. To find God in all things, and at all times, in all places, and in all providences—will enrich my soul for eternity. To find his power in this, his wisdom in that, and his goodness in all—will greatly improve my inquiring, my admiring soul. Meditating much, meditating often, meditating with delight, on him in whom are hidden the treasures of wisdom—is a noble way to enrich me for a future world.

5. To be rich in the better country, I must heartily study to approve of all the dispensations of Providence; though not insensible when God frowns, or when he smiles. When the soul of the Christian, with a filial resignation, acquiesces in the conduct of his Almighty Father, however adverse to flesh and blood; and, in the midst of all commotions, reposes himself on God's unchangeable love—he takes deep root for eternity. Fear and unbelief toss the unstable person, like a rolling thing before the whirlwind. It is proper only to children, not to men, to be peevish for toys and trifles; so let the men of this world lament the loss of worldly vanities—but let the heirs of God, the joint-heirs with Christ, rejoice that the treasures of eternity are theirs.

6. To be rich unto God, and for eternity, I must act strong faith on the Rock of ages; for it is from the spoils of battles won by faith, that I amass riches for the invisible world. Faith relying on a reconciled God in all his attributes and perfections, on Jesus in all his offices and relations, on the Holy Spirit in all his graces and operations—must remove mountains of difficulty, pluck up trees of corruption, pull down strong-holds of sin, wrestle against principalities and powers, and be more than conqueror at last—through her all glorious Author and Finisher.

7. I must also redeem time, and improve time; redeem time from this world, and improve it for the world to come. The man of business will be reluctant to lose an hour for any trifling amusement; and the soul that would be busy for eternity, should look on every hour as his last hour, and should avoid excess of sloth and slumber. Foolish amusements and vain diversions are cruel moths of time! Our time is to be economized, though worlds should be squandered away by others. As the jeweler deals with gold--so must I deal with time. He is careful about the filings, and loses nothing; so should I be careful about the smallest divisions of time--the hour, the minute, the moment. It never made a dying person's bed thorny, that by a bad bargain, he lost such and such a sum; but misspent time has made the dying moments of many dismal beyond expression.

8. To be rich in the world to come, I must have an intense love towards God and heavenly things. The men that love the world, pant after the dust of the world, and spare no pains to be rich in the world. A man will never toil to gather what he despises; so, unless I prefer heavenly things to earthly, I shall never seek to fill my treasure with invisible excellences. "He who loves silver," says the wise man, "shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance with increase." But he who loves God shall be satisfied with God, and entranced with the exuberant fullness of eternal excellencies.

9. To be rich indeed at last, I must endeavor to maintain communion with God now. To have fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ, in all his divine fullness, his glorious perfections, and his gracious ways—is the most enriching course that I can carry on below. Every moment of divine fellowship is adding another sum in the bank of heaven, so that I should be wondrously rich at last. He who leaves the Indies for Europe, sends his treasures before him; then, though he is poor at his departure from the one country—yet he is rich on his arrival at the other. So, well were it with me, if I could detach my thoughts and meditations, my cares and affections, my joys and delights, my hopes and expectations—from this perishing world, and center them on the invisible world!

10. In a word, to abound in all things in the better country, I must make God my all in all, and just sit down and wonder at the overflowing treasure, until my moldering clay lets my immortal soul fly hence—to enjoy immense riches in heaven—in the possession of his infinite self—world without end!