Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

The world deeply rooted in the affections

How often, when reading the history of the children of Israel going up out of Egypt, have I condemned their longing for their flesh-pots, and other things with which they had been entertained in the land of their bondage, when they had Canaan before them! But now I may turn from them, and leave my complaint upon myself, since I am guilty of the same sin. If my hopes are fixed in eternity, why do I take pleasure in the things of time! Will I by profession seek after immortality, yet practically pursue dying vanities? O! when shall the world cease to allure me, cease to find reception in my soul?

When shall the beautiful field, while I behold the better country, become as a barren wilderness to me; and the fine flower garden, as the top of a rock that is neither plowed nor sown? When shall honor be to me as disagreeable as the din and confusion of great cities; and fame as the tumultuous noise of an enraged mob, when the most part know not why they have come together? When shall my well-informed judgment esteem riches no better than wild brier, whose single flower on the top, is attended with innumerable prickles round about below? When shall I possess unenvied solitude, and retire into my own bosom, counting it a happiness neither to much know, or to be known, in a vain, a transitory world? Can an old man, who is half blind, and half deaf, be delighted with the harmony of sounds, the neatness and richness of attire, and the frolicsome amusements of youth? And should not the mature believer, (how sad my condition!) give a greater disrelish to the pleasures of the world, than the decays of nature? Henceforth, may I use the world as not abusing either it or myself!

How would it look in one sent expressly from his prince, on matters of the greatest importance, to sit down by the first pleasant grove he came to, and forget his mission, until the night had enrapt him up in darkness, when he could not pursue his journey? So I am on the journey of salvation, by order of the Prince of the kings of the earth, who has commanded me to run while I have the light, and work while I have the day; not to cast off my pilgrim-staff, ungird my armor, or forego my traveling posture; nor to let my affections settle on anything below, lest the shadows of the everlasting evening be stretched out, and thickest darkness cover me! As men look on children, in all their mirthful imaginations and sportive jollity, with pity and disdain; so should I look on the grandeur of the world, which is more so in comparison of diviner glories, of sublimer bliss.

But, when Israel came near the promised land, the pleasant inheritance—there was not one word of Egypt and all its dainties. So, as a sign that I am drawing near the better country to inherit it for eternity, let the things of this world not once be named by me, as becomes an expectant of the vast reserve of love. O happy day! when all shall be tasteless and insipid but Christ—when this struggle between my carnal desires and renewed affections, shall issue in complete victory over the creature and its enchanting charms!