Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799


If there is a time to rejoice, there is also a time, yes, many a time to mourn. And God has set the one over against the other, that men may not forget eternal realities. This day I have attended the funeral of a friend, who is carried away from his weeping widow, and fatherless children, who all bewail him; yes, sighs may be heard, and sorrow seen in the countenances of his loved ones.

With all the pomp of woe we attend him to the tomb; friends gaze wistfully as the casket conceals him from their sight. The ceremonies are concluded, and all retire as concerned with him no more. Though sea and land cannot separate between living friends, yet six feet of dirt—separates between the dead and the living, unties bonds, dissolves relations and perpetuates the separation.

Poor woman! why do you weep? Your godly husband is not dead—but sleeps in Jesus! His weary dust is not carried to gloomy confinement—but laid to rest on a bed of undisturbed repose. He is delivered from toil, from trouble and from sin! The sword of the foe cannot affright him; the tongue of the slanderer cannot disturb him; the envy of hell cannot distress him. Fire may consume his lifeless ashes—but cannot consume his hope. Earthquakes may cast his body out of the grave—but cannot awake him out of his sleep.

While thus his body rests, his soul triumphant reigns; and having dropped his frail mortality, he is now in the presence of God. Reserve your tears for more mournful times, nor grieve for him who is happier than you can conceive. Do you weep for his sake? Would you have him less happy, that you may be less miserable? Though you may be drowned in sorrow, he is all song. And not the deepest anguish of his dearest friends, though placed in his eye, could give him one moment's pain, interrupt the anthem, or mar the heavenly melody!

Why should you emotionally suffer in the tempest of your soul, because the gracious Pilot of souls from storms and tempests, darkness and distress, raging seas and roaring winds—has landed your friend safe on life's peaceful shore? In a little while—a friendly gale shall blow you after him. Do not spend the short interval, (who can tell how short?) in repining at his death—but in preparing for your own.

Indeed, it is a sad word—you are a 'widow'. Well, God is the widow's judge, and can be better to you than ten husbands. If your faith is strong, your refuge is not weak. Have you fatherless children? leave them to God, he will preserve them alive. Happy are the orphans, whose God is the Lord!

But what instructions should arise from his departure into glory? Why, I should live above this present slate, because I am shortly to pass from it. Neither should I envy the worldling's heaps of wealth, or the increase of his fame, which cannot descend after him to illuminate his solitary cell. The inside of the royal casket is as dark to the interred king, as the wooden coffin is to the poorest corpse; and mortality is preached alike from both. None have a glorious passage through the valley of the shadow of death—but such as walk in the light of his countenance—whose beams dispel the glooms of death, and guide them through the darksome step to bright eternal day!

However fond our friends may be of us when alive, yet when we breathe our last, we must be buried out of their sight. O to have an interest in that best of friends, in that sweetest love, who, when the whole world casts us out, will receive us to himself!