Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

Against murmuring at misfortunes

If Providence is pleased to crush my comforts of any kind—shall I make my situation less comfortable by complaining? If God chastises me as a son—shall I make myself an enemy, by rebelling against the wise discipline of my Father? If the Almighty sends affliction on me, shall I make the sad addition of sin to my sorrow—by quarreling at my sufferings? If I am not so happy as I would choose to be, I should still study to be holy, humble, and content—and then I shall never be very miserable. It is only in the things of time that I am disappointed; and what else can I expect where infinite wisdom has pronounced all earthly pleasures to be vanity and vexation of spirit?

He who lets God go for worldly vanities, may well expect storms and tempests to blow around him. He who promises to himself happiness in anything under the sun, shall every day of his life have one lesson or other to rectify his mistake. He who seeks not God in all things, and prefers not God above all things, and is not satisfied with God in the stead of all things—may expect vexation in everything, and shall be happy in nothing!

To earthly fathers we have given obedience, even when their own selfish pleasure was the rule of their conduct. And shall we be less submissive to the Father of our spirits—when our profit is always in his heavenly plan?

In our choice of good things, in our requests for blessings—we may be mistaken. But in his bounty he cannot err, whether he gives much or little—this or that—anything or nothing. Surely, I can never think or say that my wisdom could have made the world—or even myself. How, then, can I think that my wisdom could best rule the world—or even myself?

That cannot be called a misfortune—which makes me wiser; or an affliction—which makes me better; or a loss—which makes me richer in heaven; or a disappointment—which makes me unsatisfied with every creature, and cleave to God alone. If a burden is tied on my back, which I must carry to such a place, the more I try to fling it from me—the more it falls down with the greater weight; and instead of getting free from it, it becomes a greater burden still. But, if I go on calmly, my burden grows gradually lighter, by my patience and submission, until at last I get rid of it altogether.

Not insensible—but submissive; not dejected—but resigned; not combating the means, nor quarreling the instrument—but confessing the first cause, and adoring the sovereignty of Heaven; is my present duty, and will be my peace both now and in time to come.

There is not an angel in heaven, nor a saint in glory—but approves of the whole conduct of God's Providence. And therefore, though so imperfect in comparison of angels and glorious saints, yet, through grace, I would wish to say "May your will be done on earth—as it is in Heaven!" And to all that you have done—are doing—and will do—concerning me—I heartily say, "Amen!"