Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

The excellent happiness of the blessed

Time is short, and eternity is long! Yet, in this short time, I must prepare for long eternity! O! what a duration is before me! But what a foolish infatuation is within me—that I should mind the trifling things of time, and forget the great concerns of eternity! Truly, when I compare eternity and time, I am astonished that eternity does not swallow up time in my concerns and meditations. With what deceptive phantasies and delusive dreams—are we entertained here—in comparison to that divine understanding, intuitive knowledge, spiritual discoveries, vigor and activity of soul, we shall be possessed of, when we awake to immortality, from all the slumbers of a transitory life!

And yet, (woe is me!) am I not more anxious to grow in earthly things—than to grow for heaven? Will not the fear of temporal losses outweigh the joy I should have in believing? While God and glory have a passing meditation in my heart, have not the vanities of the world a permanent mansion? Does not worldly sorrow take deeper root in my soul, than spiritual joy? And, were my thoughts counted up—most would be spent on earthly vanities—while sacred things have scarcely a concern! Is this, alas! the behavior of a candidate for bliss—the practice of an expectant of glory?

One thinks least on what he loves least. O mournful conclusion! that I love God least, since he is least in my thoughts! But let me rise in my contemplation, and see the celestial multitudes, dwelling in the full display of his glory, possessed of pleasures as free as the fountain whence they flow, and full as their unlimited desire. Their souls are replenished with the most refined satisfaction, sacred delight, and substantial joy. What a magnificent assembly are the inhabitants of the better country! wearing crowns, holding scepters, reigning on thrones, walking in white, exalted in their natures, their conceptions bright, their visions cloudless, their thoughts elevated, their songs transporting, their happiness confirmed, their love burning—and all their powers entranced forever!

Seeing such, and much more, (for eye has not seen, ear has not heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man to conceive what God has laid up for those who love and fear him,) is the happiness of the triumphant throng, who have the substance, marrow, and essence of bliss—it is no wonder to see the saints setting their affections on the things above, and longing to join the happy company.

What, then, though it be a steep ascent to the mount of God, since verdant arbors, and a blooming paradise, are on the summit of the hill. A prospect of the heavenly state might make me lie, without repining, in the dungeon of a prison, until the very moment I were brought to the palace. What though I bear my cross until the day I wear the crown? What though I die daily, until Christ, with whom my life is hid in God, appears, and I appear with him in glory? Should anything below concern him, who has his eternal portion above? Should the pleasures of the world, which are but painted clouds, and airy appearances, entice him; or the troubles of the world terrify him, who is in a little while, to take his eternal farewell of both? Let adversities keep close at his heels, heaven has an open door for him, into which, while they must stand outside; he shall enter inside, and remember his misery no more. Hence let it be my daily study to walk in the view of a world to come, until that happy day when, (O wondrous word!) I shall enter into the joy of my Lord!