Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

A caution against excess of joy in any earthly good

Such is the corruption of human nature, even in the best Christian, that while we receive the good things of this life—we forget the Giver, and idolize the gift. We are apt to think too highly of every blessing. We ought to receive every favor from God, with humble gratitude. We are always to bear in our mind these few following reflections, which will help us to rejoice with moderation—in the blessings of this present life.

1. Created good is always greater in the prospect—than in the possession. While the heavenly bliss, like Solomon's glory and wisdom—is the greater the nearer it is approached.

2. No worldly felicity can enrich the soul. Many a time the happiest men, with respect to the world, have the greatest leanness in their soul, and, as their outward man flourishes, their inward man decays.

3. Nothing that we receive in the world can keep us a moment longer in it. Many things which we may possess, as riches and relations, make us both unwilling and unfit to leave the world.

4. There is always a deficiency in the most perfect of earthly enjoyments—and a thorn in the most pleasant of earthly enjoyments.

5. Have we a good name? Lying tongues may ruin it. Have we riches? These, however well secured—may make themselves wings—and fly away. Have we relations, beloved, kind, and endearing? Death may deprive us of them all, and leave us to mourn alone. Have we children? They may die young, and set our hearts a bleeding. Or they may live long, and by their wicked life—break our very hearts, when we are bowed down with years.

6. He makes a poor exchange, who prefers the creature before God; or gives God less room in his mind, in his meditations, in his affections—that his earthly enjoyments may have the more.

7. Tranquility of mind, and a smiling conscience, are the gift of God. No earthly enjoyment can bestow them, or compensate their loss when gone.

8. Carnality will spring up at every corner—and come in with every good thing. Carnality will intrude itself amidst all the graces of the Spirit—so that we have need to be always on our guard.

9. The brevity and uncertainty of human life—as it should dry the tears of the mourner—so it should moderate our earthly joys.

10. According to the talents put into our hand, according to the gifts of God to us—so must we give account to the sovereign Judge of all. Our aptness to misuse all God's blessings—should keep us humble at all times, and in all places.

11. Since infinite wisdom has seen fit to bestow very little worldly good, or earthly felicity, on the greater part of his people—this should teach us to possess the good things of this life with fear, and to rejoice in them with trembling.

12. To be dispossessed of our possessions, to lose our loving relations, to be dismissed from our posts and employments, and to be bereft of all our enjoyments—is more galling and irksome, than never to have had possession, relation, post, or employment.

13. Earthly good things we can neither carry with us to the eternal world; draw comfort from in the hour of death; nor secure to our heirs in this world, when we are no more. Therefore it is only our vitiated imagination that pictures out such scenes of pleasure—in earthly vanities.

14. Confidence in the earthly things, too often accompanies the possession of them—yet this is the canker-worm at the root of all our enjoyments. For it is in God, the Giver of all—that all our confidence should rest.

15. The favor of God is our best inheritance, the providence of God is our richest possession. The favor of God can make us happy, in spite of all misfortunes, while we live. The providence of God can attend to our posterity, when we are no more.

16. Finally, our wisdom is—to seek to enjoy God in all things—to see him in all things—to glorify him in all things—to prefer him above all things—and to be fully satisfied with him alone, in the room of all created things—relations, riches, good name, peace, prosperity, health, and life—or whatever we enjoy below.