Solitude Sweetened

by James Meikle, 1730-1799

Affliction the common lot of the Saints

When I consider the conduct of Providence towards all his saints, I should rather be astonished that I am permitted to pass through the world not more chastised—than suppose that I am chastened too severely. And surely, were I free from afflictions, whereof all are partakers, I might infer, that I were an illegitimate child—not a son. Whatever my affliction is, the wisdom of him who sends it should make me embrace and bear it without a grudge. Afflictions do not spring out of the dust, nor come at random. Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward. Some of God's favorite ones have, for wise ends, had the severest afflictions. The wisdom of God, however, in afflicting his people, is folly to the world, who would compute love and hatred by common providences; and therefore they cry out, as the ignorant Jews of old, to the Captain of our salvation, who himself was made perfect through suffering, "Let God deliver them, if he delights in them."

Again, as the infinite goodness of God shines in sending afflictions, though the scales on my eyes hinder me from seeing all their beauty, insomuch that I often wonder why it fares such and such with me, and would sincerely attempt to swallow up all in submission and faith, believing the veracity of the promise, that all things shall work together for good to those who are the called and chosen of God—I say, as his goodness appears in sending them, so the divine wisdom is conspicuous in their variety.

Abraham, the friend of God, had a trial which would have startled the whole world of believers. Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise; Moses the man, and Aaron the saint of God; Joshua and the Judges; Job, David, and his royal line; Samuel and the prophets; yes, the Lamb and his Apostles, had afflictions of every kind, in substance and estate, in relations and connections, in name and character, in soul and body. Now, such has been the universal conduct of God these five thousand years with his church and people. And had not his government been both for his own glory, and the good of his people, such a wise Father, would by this time have changed the manner of his procedure towards his own people. But who can doubt the wisdom and goodness of his conduct, who considers, that through this discipline many thousands have gone to glory, and are this day happy in their joyful harvest, after their weeping seed-time?

How happy is it for me—that the world often gives me the slip, that I may forsake the world, and look more out for the better country—That men often prove false to me, that I may rely only on the God of truth—That needs beset me on every side, that I by faith may set myself down at the gate of heaven, and, in the promise, and in his fullness, find a rich supply—That death now and then cuts off a beloved relation, that I may more remember my own end, the immortal world, and him who is the resurrection and the life.

Affliction renders the creature tasteless, the world barren, and dispels the intoxicating juice of carnal pleasures and sensual delights! It breaks the sleep of security, and awakens and rouses up to duties. Even the saints themselves are more frequent and fervent in their devotions, under the rod of affliction; and many in trouble visit the throne of grace, (dear throne! to which all have access,) and pour out a prayer when his chastening hand is upon them—who before were utter strangers both to the place and the employment. I verily believe that every Christian is a 'child of the cross', and has drunk of the cup of affliction, sweetened by Christ's drinking so largely of it. Now, would I go another way to heaven than all the redeemed have trod in? Would I walk Zion-wards out of the King's high-way, out of the covenant?

However much in the dark I may be about particular providences, and singular afflictions, until all things are cleared up above; yet, I should welcome whatever afflictions loosen me from this world, and bring me nearer God.