Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

After sickness

What shall I render unto the Lord for all his kindness unto me! The sorrows of death compassed me about, the pains of the grave took hold on me; my feeble joints were made to smite together; disease attacked every part, and rapidly prevailed. My eyes, with languid looks, spoke forth my inward trouble. My throbbing heart spread sense of pain through every member, and vexing dreams disturbed my night's repose. But what was all this to that confusion my sympathizing soul was in? No composure there. I could not meditate with calmness on my final change—which seemed to await me; nor could I enquire aright into the case of my soul—which I thought would soon be dislodged from this body, and brought before the bar of God.

Hence I learn, that health is the proper time to prepare for sickness, death, eternity. The new, the spiritual life, is too late in beginning, when the lamp of natural life is about to be blown out. Yet the men of the world postpone the most momentous business to their last moments. O! my soul, come not into their assembly; with their procrastination—be not united!

But what shall I render to the Lord for adding to my days! I yet live, yes, and am well. The canopy of the heavens might have been converted into the crumbling clods or covering worms; the light of the world into the shadow of death, and time into eternity; and my broken strains of praise into perpetual silence; the living only can praise you, as I do this day. By how many ties am I yours? I am yours to all eternity, because redeemed from everlasting wrath; and yours while I dwell below, because redeemed from temporal death. Many times, before I could expect it, deliverance came, and your mercy preserved me. Shall your goodness be forgotten, or your love seem little in my eye? No, for should not that life be spent to your praise, which is preserved by your power, restored in your pitying mercy, lengthened out in your love, and covered with your protection?

Death, with his malignant troops, is now gone, and I almost a prisoner of the grave, am set at liberty, before I was fast locked in the irons of corruption. Was my life precious in your eyes, who am of so little importance among so many millions of beings, which are dependent on your sustenance? Would I have been missed among them, if removed? No; yet your never-failing kindness would not, as yet, let me drop among the congregation of the dead! How should my love live to you, whose love to me is so active, exuberant, and full!

With the recovery of my health, let every grace revive: and let my soul, as a watered garden, be put into a flourishing condition. And, if spared to old age, when others fade, may I bring forth fruit, be fat and flourishing. Yes, in the last decline of nature, when my outward man decays, let my inward man be renewed day by day; may my views of his glory be more bright, my faith more active, my hope more fixed, my heart more established, my affections more purified, my desires more heavenly, my longing after complete fruition, and uninterrupted communion with God, increased; and my soul set on fire with love, and filled with heaven; until I, at last, am taken into that land, where the inhabitant shall not say, 'I am sick', because the people who dwell there are forgiven their iniquity.