Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

The soul's growth

When I look back a few years, I recollect, that my thoughts about common things were much contracted to what they are now. "When I was a child, I thought as a child;" for though I heard surrounding sounds, and the speeches of all about me, yet they were too vast for me to comprehend; nor could I convey my ideas to them in articulate words. Yes, when I rose a little from this infantile state, I could not shake myself free of my ignorance, nor from any proper notion of the embelting oceans, opposite poles, and the earth hung upon nothing. Still I knew nothing of the heavenly bodies, of the glorious sun, splendid moon, or sparkling stars; of the beauteous rainbow, falling showers, and flashing thunders. These things, then too sublime for me to think on, are now, in some sense, both intelligible and familiar; and this arises, not from any addition of new powers—but from an increase of the faculties of my soul.

Now, let me turn the page, and let my meditation stretch its wings towards eternal bliss. It is a reviving thought, that this soul of mine, if united to the living Son of God, the life-giving Head, shall know divine things in the light of glory. Things which I have hardly heard of, and which, for the grossness of my ignorance now, cannot enter into my heart—shall then be my darling themes. Moreover, as sun, moon, and stars, appear more beautiful to me than formerly, not from any new addition of glory to them—but my clear knowledge of their nature and magnitude; so that I am convinced, that if the stars were as near us as the torch of day, they would all appear as so many flaming suns; and that, if the sun himself were as near as the moon, whether I looked east or west, south, or north, until my glance were terminated, still I should see nothing but one immense, insufferable, flaming sky of fire!

Just so, when translated to the paradise of God, how shall my soul be delighted with the knowledge of the Most High, and ravished with the prospect of growing wiser and wiser in the things of God! Though my soul shall then be perfect in comparison of what she is now, and perfect with respect to all the parts of knowledge, happiness, and bliss; yet as to the extent of the degree, that shall always be on the increase; for though the finite mind can never know all that is to be known of an infinite Being, who only comprehends himself—yet it will be the excellency, the delight, and employment of glorified saints, still to aspire after more and more of God.

Now, though no new perfections, attributes, excellences, or glories shall ever be found in God, being all eternally and essentially in him, yet the longer I am in his presence, the more glorious will he be to me, because I shall know him more and more. The more of him I know, the more shall I admire and love him. The more I admire and love him, I shall become the more like him. The more I become like him, the larger and more capacious will my soul become. The more the faculties of my soul are, the more shall I apprehend of God. The the more that God is apprehended and known, the more he is glorified. Thus, in an eternal progression of knowing, admiring, loving, and being assimilated to God, and of enlargement of the soul, whereby she will be enabled still the more to love, admire, and know, be assimilated to, approach, and participate of the communicable perfections of the Godhead—shall consist the uninterrupted employment, and entrancing felicity of the blessed, while, through the whole, God is all in all.

Again, if there be such a difference between my thoughts when I first attempted to speak—and when arrived at ten years of age; and between my thoughts at ten years old—and those which I am at present capable; what shall the divine increase of my soul be, when, in the beatific vision of Jehovah and the Lamb, I shall have been an astonished, ravished, ardent adorer for a thousand years—and add to that another thousand—until numbers fail, and computation is swallowed up in eternity itself? Shall I not kindle in his love, brighten in his flame, and be assimilated to him in his eternal irradiation?

Again, when I consider the vast disproportion there is among the mental faculties of the sons of men, so that one has the most absurd views of all things, while another has adequate conceptions of most things, and sublime though imperfect apprehensions of God himself—I stand amazed to find, not only that the lowest saint, who is united to Christ, far outshines the wisest men of the world—but that one saint differs greatly from another, not only in this world—but in the world to come. Star differs from star in glory, yet every star is glorious, and full of glory. Now, this difference of degrees in glory is begun below. "He who sows sparingly, shall also reap sparingly; but he who sows plentifully, shall reap plentifully"—forever! The soul that burns in the fire of love, shall come forth in immortal glory; and as beds of gold are said to ripen in the heaths of the sun, so shall they who lie most in the rays of the Sun of Righteousness, ripen into the brightest glory.

Now, when all are plunged into felicity and glory, every soul shall be perfect, and replenished with glory; yet every soul shall preserve its attainments, and retain its growth. Therefore, the larger and more capacious the soul is, in an higher manner is God known; and the more God is known, the more he is glorified; and this advantage is to be pursued after, even here on earth. This is the seed-time for a plenteous eternity. This is the ambition God allows, the avarice heaven commends. What are kingdoms, crowns, or titles; what are riches, glory, fame—in comparison of this—to get my soul enlarged and capacitated to receive much of God, by which he will be glorified the more, and in which will consist the quintessence of my felicity forever?