Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

Grace in the blush, sin not ashamed

It is one of the most surprising things that I have ever observed, that sanctity should be ashamed—but iniquity not ashamed to display itself. Hence it is one of the greatest blessings promised to the lower world, that "iniquity, as ashamed, shall stop her mouth;" which supposes, that in bad times she has an impudent loquacity, both a whore's forehead in refusing to be ashamed, and the tongue of a strumpet in scorning to be silenced. Hence the company of dissolute people over their bottle, are not shy to open to another the mystery of iniquity in their most abandoned actions, and to boast in their shame.

But when do the saints of God in private conversations, to the praise of glorious grace, tell one another what the Lord has done for their souls and rejoice in his goodness? O deplorable degeneracy! shall iniquity not only rage—but reign? And shall righteousness, like the natives of a conquered kingdom, who dare not show their face, lurk in secret? Is this, professors of piety, your kindness to your friend? Shall open rebellion against heaven be winked at, by those that are maintained at the King's table? Shall the words of sinners be stout against God, and your words not stout against them? Who should be ashamed, if the sons of darkness are not? Who should face the evil day, if the abettors of virtue do not? Yet the one will proclaim the very practice of iniquity, the other hardly the profession of piety! The ambassador of Jesus is ashamed to own his office, or avow his message, in reproving the open breach of heaven's eternal law.

It is the most impolite thing one can say in company now-a-days—to speak anything of true religion, or let it be known that you are a Christian. They have no problem speaking of their vile abominations; but we are ashamed to speak of the necessity of regeneration. If we speak one sentence in favor of godliness, the spiritual life or heavenly-mindedness—it is hardly pardonable by the free-thinkers of the day.

If you adventure to say anything against the more prevailing and fashionable follies—you will be set up as a scare-crow in the table-discourse of all your acquaintances, who will pity your frenzy, and pronounce you delirious. And if it comes abroad that you live near God, and above the vanities of time, you will forthwith be a laughing-stock to all, who will stare at you as if you were come from another world, and were not a fellow human. But if you keep silence at sin, smile at their peccadillos, and live in concert with the world, you will be the best company, and the most social man alive. Thus by continual scoffing, sin is grown brazen-faced, and true religion wears the blush. Yes, some well-meaning men are sinful temporizers, by keeping silence, when they ought to speak—because of the fear of man, which brings a snare.

But remember, that those who are ashamed of the Son of man before this adulterous and sinful generation, of them shall the Son of man be ashamed before his holy angels. Be bold, you sons of virtue, then; maintain the rights of heaven against the troops of hell. Take courage to yourselves; the cause is good, and conquest shall crown the stout contender in the battle for God. Wherever sin, in the discourse of any, vilely vaunts itself—expose to shame the ugly monster. A consciousness of guilt is in it, and guilt is always interwoven with fear and shame so that it must surely blush. And if their seared consciences flout at you; pity them, and warn them of the fearful awakening that awaits the long and thoughtless slumberer. If you live near God, live undisturbed, though the lips of malice exclaim against you as an hypocrite, as one full of ostentation, or a brain-sick fanatic.

I know the cause of 'silence' in many a pious soul is, lest they should be left to fall away from what they have so zealously espoused, to the dishonor of religion, and opening the mouths of enemies to blaspheme. But beware of circumscribing the grace of God, lest he measure to you according to your opinion of him. Never let the fear of falling into sin in some future time, drive you from your present duty; for, to neglect present duty is present sin. If you shall fall from the support of his declarative glory, he may cut off from you the supplies of his grace, and make that which you unjustly fear, justly come upon you. Be for God in your day of integrity, and God shall be for you in the day of temptation. Exercise your grace for his praise, and his grace shall always be sufficient for you.

Alas! after all that can be said, there is still room to complain; for, if this detestable silence which prevails in our day, increases as it has done for some time past—it will not be long until there will not be a word about true religion in the mouths of the inhabitants of this country. But, may this spiritual captivity be turned as suddenly as streams come rushing from the south hills, when there falls a heavy rain.

Such is the deplorable indifference about divine things among the sons of men at this day. O! when will matters mend? when shall religion be openly avowed as an honor to the rational soul, and everyone speak of God, and for his glory? Let the Spirit be poured out from on high, and the wilderness turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field rise into a statelier forest. And let Israel take root downward, and fill the world with fruit. Then shall iniquity, as ashamed, stop its month, and hide its head; then shall righteousness remain in the fruitful field. Such, (O to see them!) should surely be some of the glorious days of the Son of man.