Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

From the depths of afflictions we see stupendous things

Christians, when shut up in the depths of afflictions, "when set in dark places as the dead, when hedged about that they cannot get out," have their eyes on God alone, who can bring them out of the horrible pit, out of the miry clay. Then their thoughts ascend to heaven, and heaven shines down into their souls; while the world, in all its glittering vanities that strike the carnal eye, is cut off on every side. A communication is opened between God and the soul: "To this man will I look, even to him who is poor, and of a contrite spirit," a spirit broken with affliction; yes, with such he will dwell, to revive the hearts of the contrite ones.

Again, in the dark night of adversity, there are beauties seen, that were never seen in the broad day of prosperity. Manasseh, all the time he reigned in Judah, though it was a land of light, never knew God until he was taken among the thorns, bound in fetters, and carried to Babylon, where he prayed, was heard, pardoned, and liberated; and "then Manasseh knew that the Lord, he was God." Thus, in the depths of affliction, he learned maxims more sublime, and of higher consequence, than he could attain to when seated on a throne. O desirable distress! that discloses and magnifies heavenly excellences, and diminishes earthly vanities!

When much of the world gets into the mind, then little of God is there; for "if any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him;" but when little of the world, then much of God. Affliction is also a time of solitude, for the man sits alone; but God sets the solitary in a family, even in the family of heaven, and comforts him with his own children. In no place better than in the profound depth of affliction, does the heir of future glory see the love, the goodness, the mercy, and the wisdom of God; the excellency of true religion, the beauty of divine things, the danger of prosperity, the deceitfulness of riches, the vanity of created things, and the happiness of the world to come!