Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799


To God, who rules in heaven and earth—belongs a supreme power, and undisputed sovereignty over men and angels. He who is the Creator and Preserver of all, may certainly dispose of all as he pleases. And because we have a near and dear interest in some things, it can never supersede God's better right both to them and us. He bestows blessings on us, at that we do not quarrel; but he removes them, and at this we murmur; yet his right to take is the same as to give. We may be afflicted—but we can never suffer injustice under his hand.

Much of our pain, and most of our disappointments in the world—rise from our circumscribed views of heavenly sovereignty. We think that God should follow that plan of government that pleases us best. Yet he gives not account of any of his matters, and still he does all things well.

Moses begins to deliver his brethren, and smites an Egyptian; yet sovereignty sends him forty years to a strange country, and adds forty years heavy bondage to the Israelites. The kindness of God sends Joseph into Egypt, to preserve his father's family alive; yet sovereignty sends him in such a way, that old Jacob seems to go mourning to the grave, and he who had been favored with the most heavenly dreams, dreams not a word all this time of his beloved son. Jephthah conquers his foes—but Providence meets him with a sharp trial in his only daughter, who, at best, must never be married. The favor of Heaven enriches Job—but sovereignty permits Satan to spoil him of all. David is anointed king—but before he comes to the throne, he is sometimes driven almost to despair of his life. The Jews have liberty to rebuild their temple, and yet, through the malice of their foes, it is retarded a long time. John, our Savior's forerunner, after baptizing thousands, loses his head through the malice of a lecherous woman. Josiah, one of the best kings, is slain in battle in the prime of his life. Zechariah is stoned to death for reproving, in God's name, the transgression of his law. And the apostles, who were the salt of the world, were hungry, thirsty, naked, buffeted, without habitation, made as the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things! And all these things were ordered by divine sovereignty!

We allow that death must separate friends some time—but sovereignty will take from one parent the child of a span long; from another the weaned child; from a third a pretty boy; from another the promising youth; and from another the comfort of his hoary hairs. Into one family death never enters—but it flourishes up to manhood, and wholly survives the aged parents; into another family, death thrusts his iron hand, and carries one away; from a third family, he snatches a complete half of the dear little ones; and from a fourth family, he takes all but one; while from another family he takes one and all.

To give and take health and wealth, friends and relations, blessings and mercies—at his own time, and in his own way—is a part of the plan of God's government of the world. Therefore, we should always expect to be deprived of what we possess, in a moment; or to be showered with blessings suddenly. Could we commit all we have, all we are, and all we wish, into his sovereign hand, to do with them as he pleases, our concerns would be as secure, and our souls much more tranquil.

If in sovereignty God has passed by some—and chosen me to inherit a crown and kingdom, which in a few years I shall be possessed of forever. So what does it matter if he passes by me, and bestows the comforts of this present life on others—who in a few years must suffer eternal torments?

Though your providence should both perplex and pain me, I will never complain. I may sin in my desires—but you will not injure me in your wise determinations. It shall please me that you do all your good pleasure—and my will shall be swallowed up of yours.

I have forfeited every felicity; how then, can I expect to begin heaven on earth? The prospect of heaven may make me triumph over every trouble, every trial, every disappointment in time. In a little while, I shall be so happy that I shall almost forget that ever I had less felicity. Such is my confidence in your wisdom, such my dependence on your powerful arm, such my expectation from your fatherly kindness—that I acquiesce in all you do, and desire to be wholly at your disposal in all I am, in all I have, and in all I desire. What I know not now—why at such and such a time I lose a friend—why I meet with such and such a disappointment—why such and such a cross is laid on me—I shall know hereafter—that it was good for me that I have been afflicted. And when time is no more, I shall know that he has done all things well.