Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

A prospect of Death

A dispute has long subsisted between my mortal frame and death; and though I have long maintained the struggle with a body subject to disease and pain, I must at last yield to the universal conqueror, and be led to the house appointed for all living. In a little while, the king of terrors will advance toward me, harnessed to slay, and I shall not be able to escape the keen destroyer. But here is the comfort of a Christian—that he may die, and yet not be hurt of the second death. Yes he may go undismayed with him who is the terror of kings—as with a conquered foe—and with cheerfulness view the silent grave. For though his dust rots, yet his hope shall flourish forever. O what an unspeakable privilege is a saving interest in the Son of God, whereby death—which sets the world a trembling—fills the believer's mouth with songs of triumph! Happy would the wicked be—if they were freed from the fears of approaching death. But this advancing day, when he departs, to be with Jesus, kindles joy in the believer's bosom.

Reluctant nature, indeed, may struggle in the last pangs—but opening glories shall scatter every gloom. My relatives may weep about me—but my soul shall be all harmony within. My body may toss and tumble on a death bed—but my hope shall be fixed within the veil. Mourning and weeping may attend my decease—but my departed soul shall soar to everlasting song. And, while my sad friends inter my lifeless clay, my immortality shall enter into the joy of my Lord.

Such views as these refresh the expectant of glory; and whatever clouds may darken his evening sky, yet his state is secure, and he shall never walk alone, through the dark shadow, the solitary valley of death. The same divine Savior, who has been a cloud and a shadow to him all the days of his life, will also be the shining of a flaming fire to him in the night of his death. Hence death itself, like the cloud of old, when kindly interposed between fleeing Israel and pursuing Egypt, though it be terror and darkness to depraved mortals—yet it is joy, light, and transport to adopted sons.

If, on the approach of the decisive moments, fierce disease will allow my soul so much tranquility as to think; with what delight will I bid the world adieu, how will my joys swell to see myself on the brink of an eternity of glory! And, if I can use my tongue, how shall my dying breath speak of the excellences of my divine Redeemer, and commend religion to the sons of men! How shall I expatiate on the bliss, the entrancing joys found in his presence, even below, when the soul dwells with great delight under his shadow, and eats his fruits, while paradise blooms around him! How shall I also endeavor to set forth a little of that triumphant state that is before the throne!

Then, taking my last, my eternal farewell of all created things, I shall fix my soul on all the boundless bliss, and everlasting glory, that is in his presence; and, while he graciously begins to shed eternal noon about me, shall breathe my soul out among his beams, and rise in his irradiation to the very throne!