Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

The excellency of true religion


The world may say as it will of the Christian religion—but it is only by it that the human mind is exalted, and men rise into eternal glory. The pleasures of piety sweeten my acid griefs, and blunt my acute pains. In this I triumph over my troubles, defy my enemies; and outrun my woes. Here I relish unseen realities, taste spiritual joys, and eat of the hidden manna. Here, in the chariot of the covenant, seated in the promise, Elijah-like, I leave the whole creation, and wing to the inheritance above, where at once I am possessed of the divine plenitude of the Eternal, bathe in life's crystal streams, bask in his meridian ray—Where I shall drink, (and the time is not far distant) the immortalizing draught, and eat the bread of life in the kingdom of God—Where my raptured tongue shall join its anthem with the harpers around the throne, and never cease, and never tire—Where I shall see him who is altogether lovely, in the brightest displays of his glory, and hear the tenderest expressions of his everlasting love—Where I shall share of his excellences, participate of his divine nature, and put on his amazing similitude—Where I shall enjoy an ineffable union with my living Head, and know, in the largest meaning of the word, that "he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit,"—Where communion between the well-beloved and his spouse shall be full and free, to the ecstasy of every power of the mind—Where I shall be allowed an access so near, that it shall astonish me in my very approaches—Where I shall sit before his throne, walk with him in white, and in his temple speak of his glory—Where I shall launch out into the unfathomable ocean of his infinite perfections, and be eternally lost in the divine glory—Where I shall no more be vexed with an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God, but have my soul immovably fixed on the unchangeable God—Where my body in all its members, my soul in all her faculties, shall be holy and pure, and go unweariedly out to God—Where the least temptation shall not whisper in my ear, nor the carnal speech, nor profaning tongue, (O happy days!) grate the sanctified ear—but loud praises to him who loved us, from all the multitudes around the throne, convey the harmony of eternal song, to soothe my every power into the profoundest ecstasy, and to excite my song to confess his essential glories in sublimest anthems—Where I shall see the King eternal in his immaculate beauty, worship him without hypocrisy, serve him without wearying, behold him and not die, approach his throne without terror, know him as he is, see him in all his greatness, yet not, Daniel-like, be weakened—but strengthened by the vision; delight in him without slavish fear, love him without reserve, and be like him without contradiction—Where I shall see him in his resplendent robes, in his essential glories, dwelling with redeemed men, though the heaven of heavens cannot contain him, and showing them his beauties, his majestic steps in the highest sanctuary, the holy of holies, and making all his goodness to pass eternally before their wondering, their adoring, their ravished eyes!

With such endearing prospects, such reviving expectations, as these, my soul is refreshed in true religion!

But what is on the other hand? What have the ungodly, who relish none of these things, to expect—but gulfs of horror, pits of despair, seas of fire, oceans of vengeance, chains of wrath, floods of indignation, unutterable anguish, utter darkness, eternal torments—and such a scene of agonies as chills my thoughts!