by James Meikle, 1730-1799
Sovereign Lord, what I most desired you have denied, yet
I praise you! On what account, I know not, yet I praise you. You have done
it; that silences me. Your will makes it indisputable, and renders it my
indispensable duty to your wise determinations. Hitherto I have had no
complaint on the conduct of providence; nor shall I complain until all the
mazes are explained. Do, then, all your counsel, though all my counsels
should come to nothing. Can a person expect favors from God--who will not
wait for God's way and time?
But what does it matter how the affairs of a present
world go, if the interests of the next world are secured? The weather-vane
is whirled about with every blast, but the iron spire is still at rest,
because it cannot be displaced. So, what does it matter though the outward
man decays--if the inner man grows? What does it matter though the temporal
condition be perplexed--if the conscience is possessed of spiritual peace? I
praise you that you interpose your providence, even in disappointing my
dearest plans; and do not give me up to the blind desires of my own heart,
and to wander at random in counsels of mine own. I can resolve the present
case into nothing but your will; yet I rejoice more to resign your will, and
to be submissive to your disposal, than to have my will in every point
performed. This is the only way in my private capacity that I can glorify
If all things went as I would have them, I could not
positively learn the care of God. But when providence, beyond all human
probability, twists enterprises out of my hands, and well-resolved designs
out of my heart--this clearly shows to me your condescending concern about
my lot and life. Thus you take the wise in their own craftiness; for when
all my schemes were so well laid, that human policy approved of, and wit
itself commended; yet, when you did blow upon them, how did they like
rainbows painted on the watery clouds, when thunders break, or boisterous
winds attack--scatter into disappointments and pain!
Hence, in the school of providence I am taught
1. Not to look to the appearance of things, but to the
power of God, who brings light out of darkness, and calls the things that
are not, as though they were.
2. That from probabilities, impossibilities may spring;
while apparent impossibilities dissolve into easy escapes. As for the first,
it was very probable that the Egyptians might overtake and put Israel to the
sword, yet it became impossible for them to do it. And as for the second it
seemed impossible that Israel could escape ruin, when enclosed with
insurmountable hills, and swelling seas, and pursued by enraged foes; yet,
in what an easy way did they walk to their deliverance!
3. I am taught to believe, and to give glory to the
almighty power of God, when impossibilities throng thick before me.
4. To see my own finite wisdom to be but folly, that I
can neither prevent nor foresee those events which I do not desire.
5. To hold all my mercies, all my privileges from God,
and not from the certainty in which they seem to stand.
6. Not to think that things are lost, when so they seem
to be. When I think I am most sure of some things, they are all on a sudden
taken from me; so when lost, they can all of a sudden be restored.
7. And, lastly, to see the mutable and fickle state of
temporal things, and therefore to hold a loose grip on the creature, however
dear, however near--and to set my affections on things that are above.