Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

The joy of salvation

What must the joy of the benighted traveler be—who has lost his way, and walks every step in terror of his life, through the roaring of lions, and shrieks of wild beasts around him—when the light of the morning scatters his fears, and the rising sun sends the beasts of prey back to their dens?

What must the joy of the mariner be—who is caught in a terrible tempest, while the heavens above roared in thunder and lightning, and the ocean raged around in high swelling surges—until his vessel was a very wreck, and he expected to be buried in every returning billow—when at once the storm is changed into a calm, his native country appears in sight, and he arrives safe at his desired harbor?

What must the joy of that person be—who banished into cruel exile, has a long time dwelt with savages, or beasts of prey—when recalled by a royal edict, and invited to dwell among his brethren, and in his father's house?

What must the joy of an indigent man be—who, oppressed with poverty, could never call anything his own—when he finds a treasure so rich, so immense, that thenceforth he shall be accounted the most opulent man in the country?

What must the joy of the rebel be—who, being outlawed, and a price set upon his head, skulked in continual fear, and trembled at every breath of wind—when the royal pardon gives him his life, restores him to favor, and admits him to his sovereign's presence?

What must the joy of the valiant soldier be—who, having stood long in the field of battle, engaged troop after troop, until faint and fatigued almost to death—yet conquers all his foes at last, wins the field, and returns in safety to the reward?

What must the joy of that man be—who has been chained to strife and contention for many years—when blessed with peace around, peace in his own house, and peace in his own mind?

What must the joy of those affectionate parents be—whose only son is delivered from the jaws of death?

What must the joy of that loving husband—whose kind, loving wife is as it were restored to him from the dead?

What must the joy of the prisoner be—who has long been confined to a loathsome dungeon, a stranger to the light of day, the sweets of society, and the visits of his friends—when set at perfect liberty, to walk in the light, and enjoy himself with his friends?

What must the joy of the stranger be—who has walked whole days over burning mountains, around terrible craters of thundering volcanoes, trembling, lest he sink amidst the devouring flames, or perish by some sudden eruption—when he finds himself safe on the fragrant plain, and charmed with the vineyards that spread around him?

What must the joy of the bankrupt be—whose generous friend pays all his debts, brings him out of jail, and allows him a fund that he shall never lack again?

What must the joy of the infirm, bed-ridden patient be—who has long turned his face from the world, and toward the wall, beheld the grave as his solitary lodging, and taken his farewell of the children of men—when raised from his bed of languishing, his health recovered, and his youth renewed as the eagle's?

What must the joy of the criminal be—who, guilty of some atrocious crime, has been condemned to lose his life, and on the appointed day, amidst assembled thousands, is led forth to execution—when lo! a messenger, swift as the wings of the wind, arrives with a royal pardon, which swells his bosom with transport and surprise, and saves him from death?

What must the joy be of people besieged, and so straitened, and reduced to famine—who are compelled almost to eat the flesh of one another, or their own—when the siege is finished, and plenitude pours in at every gate?

What must the joy be of one journeying over burning sands, scorched with the sun, and parching with raging thirst, until likely to fall down dead—when a crystal fountain, or flowing stream appears before him?

What must the joy of a beggar be—when he becomes the heir to a wealthy prince?

What must the joy of a slave be—who, though loaded with chains, has often felt the cruel rod of his brutal taskmaster—when he sees his fetters knocked off, his vile clothing taken away, himself clothed in scarlet, a crown put upon his head, a scepter in his hand, and himself proclaimed a king?

Such, and much more, is the joy of salvation—where sinners are made saints—where worms rise into angels—and where sinful men are made like Christ!