Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799


What a wicked world do we live in! If happy and successful—we are envied; if miserable—we are despised; and in every condition—slandered. With the psalmist of old, I may say, "the mouth of the slanderer is opened against me." With him I may add, "They have spoken against me without a cause." O that, with him, I could also say, "But I gave myself to prayer!"

I am not the first man who has suffered innocently. The man after God's own heart, in the darkest day of his distress; (for slander has no pity,) is attacked by a subject, and has the most virulent speeches thrown out against him, accompanied with dust; and the most bitter reproaches, sent home with vollies of stones! David, you were never more like a king, nor more like the King of heaven, than now, who makes his sun to shine on the good and the evil, and sends rain on the just and unjust. I read, I admire, and would imitate: "Let him alone, let him curse, for the Lord has bidden him." Such patience under such ill usage, at any other time, would not have been prudent; but now it is like a king, like a saint, like an angel, like God.

From David, I cast my eye to David's Lord, the God of angels, who, by his own creatures, and to his very face is called a devil. He whose miracles set his divinity above doubt, is accused as a deceiver, condemned as an impostor, and executed as a malefactor; yet hear his prayer; "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." The patience of the type, and the prayer of the antitype, let me study to imitate.

How cautious should we be in believing detracting stories, since nothing can be more like truth, yet nothing more untrue—than slander. But O how sweet is the testimony of a good conscience! It is an impenetrable shield against all the poisoned arrows of reproach. When the soul can call in the heart-searching God to witness its innocency, well may it triumph, knowing that "the curse causeless shall not come." But how difficult is it to be of a meek and forgiving spirit, when despitefully slandered! To love an enemy, and forgive an evil-speaker, is a higher attainment than is commonly believed. Christianity in theory, and Christianity in practice, are very different things! It is easy to talk of Christian forgiveness among neighbors—but to practice it ourselves, proves us to be Christians indeed.

The evil language of evil times need not greatly disturb me, since in the day of judgment "my judgment shall be brought forth as the noon-day." While I pray for pardon to my slanderers, I also plead, that their evil speeches may not be established in the earth.

My passion runs in a wrong channel; for my grief should be greater that the malicious slanderer sins against God, against his own soul, and against the truth, in his elaborate lies—than for all the mischief his bitter reproaches can do to me.

Every time the military man enters the field of battle, he must either stand his ground, or come off with disgrace; so under every trial my graces either must reap advantage, or suffer loss. Therefore, my present duty is not to slander my slanderers, not to meditate revenge, or rejoice when evil finds them. But, first, to justify God in all things; then, to forgive, pray for, and love my enemies; thirdly to study what I may be reproved in, chastised for, or instructed about; and, lastly, that every grace, (faith in God, patience under the rod, humility of mind, and meekness towards all,) may improve under the present providences.