Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

The necessity of afflictions while we live


I expect afflictions of one kind or other while in the body. Our afflictions may put on different appearances, according to the different periods of our life—but they will attend us as close as the shadow does the body. As long as I dwell in Mesech—I may expect wars; as long as I attend on sin and vanity—vexation and trouble will attend me. As I cannot be perfect in holiness while out of heaven—so I cannot be perfect in happiness while absent from God. My sufferings and afflictions are painful; but that I should sin before I suffer, offend God before I am afflicted, should grieve my inmost soul.

I have reason to fear that I am a very stubborn son—that I need so much correction. But it affords me comfort that I endure chastisement as God's son. He who has no long journey before him—but sits still in his own house, may escape the tempest, and hide himself from the storm; but he who sets out for another country, cannot expect always to walk on the flowery path, or in the pleasant sunshine—but shall find a river to cross, and a mountain to climb; shall have darkness around him, and thunders roaring above him, the tempest attending his steps, and the storm dashing upon him; and perhaps enemies waylaying him. So it is with the traveler heavenward, for through much affliction, and many tribulations—we shall enter into the kingdom.

Again, affliction is as necessary for the health of the soul—as exercise for the health of the body. Lay a man down upon his bed, and let him never lift his head but to eat and to drink, how soon would he become good for nothing, yes, and lose his own health? Just so, let the saint have no afflictions, and his graces shall soon grow languid, and his soul sick and feeble. But affliction—raises us from our sloth—makes us run to God—call in the divine assistance—see the vanity of the creature—and long for the heavenly state. "The wicked have no changes." Well, is their heart filled with glowing gratitude to the God of their mercies? No! "therefore they do not fear God!" On the other hand, the saints are afflicted, and they cleave to God, and keep his statutes better than before.

Corruption is so interwoven with our frame, that in every station, and toward every relation, we may offend; but Providence has so ordered it, that, in every station, and from every relation, afflictions of one kind or other will come; and if they correct us where we err, and mortify our corruption—we ought to welcome them.

The school of the cross is the school of Christ; and there must all the children of God be taught, to fit them for the perfect state of glory. An ignorant person who sees the mariner heaving such a weight of ballast aboard his ship, would suppose he intended to sink her at sea; just so, whatever the world may think, the troubles and trials of the saints shall never sink them—but keep them from being overturned by every squall, that they may arrive with safety at the haven of rest, having their anchor fixed within the veil.