Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

Mercies abused

Many are the mercies we receive from heaven. It is shocking to think how we convert these mercies into an occasion of sin, and make them the cause of awful miseries. By the senses of the body the soul is wounded. Our eyes, which should look straight on, and by which we may search the scriptures of truth—are full of adultery, and used only in conveying vain objects to our mind. Our ears, which should hear the sound of the everlasting gospel, the words of life—take in only blasphemies, backbitings, evil reports, impure discourse, vain blasphemies, and contentions; and, alas! are entertained with these evil things! Our lips and tongues, which should move only to mutual edification—are employed in detraction and slander, and dwell on profane and trifling themes. Our feet, that should carry us to the house of God, and about our lawful affairs—run only to mischief, and are swift in the ways of wickedness.

Moreover, we abuse common mercies also, turning—a full table into gluttony and drunkenness; God's bounty into luxury; plenty into extravagance; apparel into pride; prestige into vain show; riches into presumption; honor into haughtiness; and power into oppression! Yes, we also abuse mercies of a more noble nature, while we employ—our wisdom in wrangling, our minds in worthless disputings, our attainments in ostentation, and our knowledge in pride.

Finally, in everything we offend God. While under afflictions—we are faithless; in trials—we distrust his promise; and when disappointed—we despond. Of God's deliverance—we are forgetful; in prosperity—we are carnally secure; in sickness—we are sullen; in health—we are full of levity, and a delight in earthly things. Thus, by the abuse of mercies, we turn the grace of God into sinfulness.

Surely the mercies of the Most High are above all his works, and fill the earth. He continues to bestow those very mercies on us, which we so much abuse—when he might at once strike us blind, dumb, and deaf; when he might at once blow upon our blessings, and cause our table-comforts to decay; when he might tread us in the mire of adversity, and cause the waters of affliction to flow over our heads; when he might blast our mind, sense, and reason, and turn us into pitiful idiots; and when he might hide his countenance, and make us go mourning without the sun.

To him whose mercies know no bound—let our praises know no end!