Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

Going to a Fair

The heavenly mind has this advantage, that it can spiritualize every business, and moralize all occurrences of life. As, then, I am this day going to a fair, let me call to mind the comparisons, or the similitude between this market and the market of grace.

1. From all quarters men come hither; so is it in the market of grace.

2. None are hindered to come here to merchandise; so is it in the market of grace.

3. All kinds of goods are to be found here; so is it in the market of grace.

4. Parties meet here, bargains are made, and business done; so is it in the market of grace.

5. Numbers are to be found here, who cannot tell what brought them hither; so many attend the ordinances from custom, to see, or to be seen.

6. The fair is by public authority; so is the market of grace.

7. Some stand all day idle; so is it in the market of grace.

8. Some go home with large profits; so do all they who rightly improve the market of grace.

9. But some return immense losers; so must they, who slight the market of grace.

10. Thieves and pick-pockets, attend here to ruin honest folk; so Satan, sin, and worldly cares often rob us of spiritual things in the market of grace.

11. Dealers, returning home, converse wholly on the course of the business through the day; so they who have found the true riches, the pearl of great price, in the market of grace, will speak, think, and meditate much thereon ever after.

12. This fair is but of one day; so the market of grace comes to an end, and people may outlive the day of grace; therefore, everyone should embrace the present offer.

But how great the excellency of the one above the other!

1. All things here are for the body; there all things are for the soul.

2. Nothing here goes without money; but all things in the glorious market of grace are without money, and without price.

3. If I sit my market today, I shall repent tomorrow; but the market of grace is continued to many poor souls many years.

4. Without the one we may live; but lacking the other we must die.

5. It is indifferent whether we buy or not here; but in the market of grace, we must participate, or we dishonor God, and sin against our own souls.

6. To take goods here without money, is dishonesty; but, to offer our pelf for the merchandise of heaven, is damnable.

7. We plead and press for commodities at a low price here; but God importunes, and presses us to buy the gold tried in the fire, that we may be eternally rich.

But O how are the men of the world assiduous about the affairs of life, while they neglect the great concern! Well do we know what makes for our happiness, as to the things of time; but how careless are we with respect to the things of eternity! A shower will excuse from walking two miles to a sermon; but a very rainy day will not deter us from this place of business, though three times the distance. O corrupt nature! that counts it a great deal of happiness to meet with merry companions, to drink, rove, ramble, see, and be seen. But how far beneath the dignity of the human soul, to forget itself amidst the hurry of trifling concerns, for a transitory life!

It is, indeed, the duty of all men to attend to their business, and guide their affairs with discretion. They may meet, therefore, on days appointed for that purpose. But, when the mind gets a wrong bias, by the vanities that are to be seen there; is infected with a roving disposition; and can trifle away time that is so precious—how far is this beneath the Christian character? It should be our constant care, then, wherever we go, whatever we do, to keep the omniscience of God in our mind, that while we manage our business with discretion, we may serve our God with undistracted devotion.