Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

This life a valley of tears


Why have I mistaken this thorny wilderness—for a garden of flowers? Why have I mistaken this place of danger—for a palace of delight? Why have I mistaken this howling desert—for an enchanting grove? If the world has joys, it has none for me—they are carnal or unlawful. My joys must be pure and spiritual. If the creature affords pleasures, they cannot suit my soul—its honey is mixed with gall, its sweet with wormwood, its wine with water, its gold with dross—and all are mixed with poison. The pleasures I should seek are such as my soul may feed on without danger, feast on without excess, and rejoice in without sin.

Again, why do I expect comfort in this world? Can I hope, or even desire, to go through the valley of tears—with singing? Can I hope to dwell in the house of mourning—with joy? Would I fare better than my best Friend? While here, he was a man of sorrows—and shall I not taste the briny cup? He was acquainted with grief—and shall I be a stranger to it? Would I be kindly entertained in that very place where he had not where to lay his head? Would I fare like the kings of the earth—when the King of kings fared not so well as the fowls of heaven, or the foxes of the field? Would I go another way to glory—than the saints ever trod? Would I go through 'an earthly heaven' to the celestial heaven—when it is through much tribulation I must enter into the heavenly kingdom? Can the the bride be glad when the Bridegroom is not with her? Can I be easy, can I be quiet, among the enemies of my Lord the King, where the general voice is, "Shall this man reign over us? We will not have him for our king!"

Oh! that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears—that I might weep day and night for the sins of my fellow-creatures, for the slain of my fellow-sinners! Let sorrow seize on my heart, and grief fix her iron talons there—it is all I can do for the honor of my Lord.

I shall know no grief but for you—no joy but in you! I shall know no grief but in you—wounded in your glory, blasphemed in your name, disbelieved in your promises, defamed in your holiness, abused in your saints, despised in your threatenings, slighted in your love, and contradicted in your truth! I shall know no joy but in you—as my only portion, my exceeding great reward! I shall know no comfort but in you—conquering in the everlasting gospel, and worshiped from the rising to the setting sun.

This is the night of weeping; and though weeping endures through the night of time, yet joy comes in the morning of eternity. I must fight while on the field of battle; and it is enough to get the crown after the battle. I am worker, and I must not lie down to rest until the evening shadows cover my weary limbs. The world is too barren a soil to bear true joy; for where sin within and round about abounds, how can consolation triumph, which rises only as sin falls, and falls as sin rises? But in this my comfort lies—that though in the world I shall have trouble, yet in him I may be of good cheer, because he has overcome the world. Moreover, in midst of all the sorrow that now surrounds me, I have an inward joy that causes my heart to sing and blossom with the beautiful prospect of eternal joy coming from its divine fountain—which, without the least fear of returning sorrow, shall be the strength of my soul forever!