CONVERSE WITH THE UNSEEN
By James Meikle, 1730-1799
1. FUTURE GLORY.
When, some years ago, I left my native country for
another land, my thoughts went before me; and when I foresaw, that, in the
course of providence, I would cross the glowing equator, still my thoughts
got the start of me, and were, as it were, acquainted with the place before
my arrival there. Since, then, I am on my journey towards eternity, and the
world unseen—why is not my meditation there? Shall the howling desert,
through which I hasten, engross all my attention—when paradise is before me?
Tell me, you inhabitants of bliss, how you employ
yourselves—you who have bid everlasting farewell to all created things? "Oh!
man, your question moves our pity, and proves that you dwell in thick
darkness. Could you thrust your head through these heavens, and get one
glance of the glory we dwell in, of the divine person we adore, you would
never ask the question again—but ardently long to come up here, and account
the conquest of an earthly kingdom, like the childish acquisition of a
feather or a fly; you would turn the world out of your mind, and trample on
its noblest things with a disdain befitting an expectant of glory."
My divine Redeemer, I see, then, that in your presence
there is fullness of joy, and that at your right hand are pleasures
evermore. Too long the things of time have gained on my esteem; too long
have I been enamored with creature-charms, and mistaken the chief good;
henceforth I will meditate on that world, where in a little while I shall
dwell forever. The more I meditate on divine things, the more I love them,
and find the greater delight in my meditations; but the less my thoughts are
on them, alas! the less do I esteem them. Ah! hitherto how have I refused
and fled the purest felicity, and followed after vanity and pain!
2. LACK OF LOVE TO GOD.
Bleed, my heart! and be pained, my inmost soul! at the
irreverence that too often troubles me in my devotion, and defiles my best
duties. O you sons of light! I see you stand at the eternal throne, and
worship the Almighty, with profoundest awe and reverence. Yes, you angelic
throng! though your countenance sparkles with glory, yet, before the
Ancient of Days, you hide your faces with your wings, drop your
greatness in his effulgent Majesty, and lose your beauty in his diviner
beams. There the mighty Gabriel is a celestial worm; and all the
seraphic principalities are but insects round the throne!
What, then, must I be before the High and Lofty One who
alone inhabits eternity? I who dwell in clay, am crushed before the moth,
clouded with ignorance, defiled by sin, dogged by death, pleased with
phantoms and charmed with painted nothings! The language I write in, cannot
afford words to describe my vileness; metaphors fall short, and fruitful
fancy toils in vain. Then let me think, and fall down in deep debasement.
O tremendous gulf! where am I now! You fallen angels! you
infernal throng! you I resemble in my irreverence towards God. Oh, horrid!
shall I be like these wicked specters, these ancient sons of sin and death?
Out of the belly of hell will I cry unto you: yet you have my heart, you
have my love, and I will worship at your throne prostrate on the humble
O you happy assembly on the heavenly mount, the mount of
God! could I think like you, could I know like you, could my whole soul be
enrapt in adoration and divine attention to the sweet employ, what delight
would diffuse through all my powers of mind in my happiest moments!
What cause have I to fear lest your burning thunderbolts
break on my irreverent head, and dash the daring wretch out of your gracious
presence into perdition and woe? Be exalted in your condescension to my
state, in your pity to my frame, and let your patience and forbearance swell
my grateful anthem, while I long for that perfect state, wherein, though
blessed with the nearest approaches, I shall always be filled with the
profoundest respect, divinest awe, and not one improper thought of God shall
pass my bosom.
3. WE GROPE IN THE DARK WHILE HERE
You heirs of endless rest and joy! You no longer
experience the anxious thought, the troubled bosom; your cares are past, and
your concerns have come to an happy end. Yet this day I wait the doubtful
outcome of some grand affairs which very much concern my passing life. Not a
cloud is in your sky, not a doubt is in your mind—while I dwell in the
stormy twilight, and fear a tempestuous night. O you shining ones! is it
possible, that ever, like me, you dwelt in this valley of Achor? Were your
composed countenances ever disfigured with sorrow—or did the briny tear ever
trickle from your sparkling eyes?
"Yes, mistaken man! we all—everyone of us, came out of
great tribulation! There is not an inhabitant of the Canaan above—but
traveled through the wilderness below. We lost our sorrows when we left our
mortal frame, and at once found immortality and joy; and now our happiness
is as vast as thought, unbounded as our wish, and stable as the hills of
Well, well, you sons of joy! I reckon my happiness as
well as you. If your felicity be secured in the possession, mine is secured
in the promise. He who delivers out of Egypt, also brings safely over
Jordan, Once, like me, you wept, you mourned, you stood bewildered, and knew
not what to do. So, in a little while, I, like you, shall shout and sing,
and share eternal peace, and the conduct of my glorious Guide. Comforted
with these prospects, I will encounter all the changes of a transient state,
and fix my eye on the felicity to come. By faith I will drink at the river
which flows from the throne of God; and thus, become immortal in my highest
hopes, and most endearing prospects, I will bid defiance to all the darts of
woe that can strike me in time. What can changes do to me, since my last,
and most terrible change shall fix my felicity, and render my best state
4. ALL THINGS WORK FOR GOOD TO THE
May I endure as seeing him who is invisible, and having
my eye much on the world to come! Time now passes, and passing time has
perplexing scenes. But, O you citizens of the New Jerusalem, your mountain
stands fast, and shall never be moved, and your beloved is in your arms; and
an everlasting hallelujah dwells upon your tongue! Here I dwell in the dark,
and am much in doubt, nor know what conclusion to draw from the conduct of
Providence concerning my present state. I am confounded and pray, and often
am at a loss to know my duty. Is there none in your great assembly who wish
that some of your crosses had not taken place in time? and that the divine
conduct had been otherwise?
"No, complaining mortal! No! Be it known to you, and all
the mourning throng, that we adore and acquiesce in all that ever befell us
below. Yes, the very providences which troubled us most, and made us almost
doubt the love of God, and disbelieve his promises; now, when unfolded in
the light of glory, fill our hearts with joy, and our mouths with songs,
while we adore the infinite love and amazing wisdom of our God, who made all
things work together for our eternal good!"
What! Is there not one in all your numerous assembly that
has had dark and bewildering providences in his lot?
"What, then, presumptuous inquirer? It comforts us, that
God, our own God, has sent the dark and bewildering providences. And though
we should never be able to find out the cause, or be indulged with the
mystery unfolded, we are all well pleased to have the strongest impressions
of Jehovah's absolute sovereignty—who gives no account of any of his matters
to men or angels—thus preserved on our enlarged souls, to all eternity."
Shall I not, then, from this time, O Lord, claim you as
my Father, and the guide of my life? Thousands, and ten thousands, by your
divine conduct, have safely arrived at bliss, and not a complaint on their
tongue, not a murmur in their mind—for one step in all the rugged way.
5. A SOUL CONVERTED, JOY AMONG THE
"One of our blessed number is just now arrived from
ministering to the saints on earth, and brings the joyful tidings, that a
sinner is converted, an heir of glory born, and therefore joy sparkles in
every angelic countenance, and triumphs in our rapturous hallelujahs. Let
this day be marked in the records of heaven, in the annals of eternity!"
What is the meaning of this great shout in the camp of
heaven? Hail, happy day, when the conversion of my friend, whom I have daily
prayers—shall cause joy among the angels of God! Yes, when the Savior shall
see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied! Methinks I see the rosy
dawn of divine power, when the soul who once resisted Jesus flies into his
arms. Then the peace of God, and peace of conscience, are prized above all
the things of time. Jesus! Your name is salvation, your word enlivening,
your merits infinite, and all your affections love!
Again the heavenly arches ring, "Another captive is
rescued from hell, another sinner is converted from the error of his way!"
Let all the ransomed throng exalt the riches of free and sovereign grace,
while all my powers are swallowed up of astonishment and love!
6. EARTH NOT OUR HOME.
Why am I so fond of this land wherein I am a stranger, of
the place of my exile? The decease of all my ancestors proves this; not one
of them is this day alive, and I shall shortly follow them. O to get this
world under my feet, that it may not be a dead weight on me in my journey!
This is the land of idols, and every image dares compete with eternal
realities for my affections. Time is as often in my thoughts as eternity.
Earth engrosses as much of my concern as heaven.
The expectant of glory will not own his home beneath the
sun; for it is but a wilderness where sin and Satan reign; where God is
seldom seen; and where the Christian is often weeping. But, O blessed
inhabitants! who dwell where the Lord God and the Lamb are the temple, the
Lord God and the Lamb are the light, and the joy of the whole land. You not
only dwell in heaven, but heaven dwells in you—while earth and hell struggle
hard for room in my heart, and, alas too, too often prevail. Compassionate
Redeemer! when shall your traveler arrive at these realms of day, join the
sinless throng that worship at your throne, and never, never, sin?
7. WE SHOULD LIVE ABOVE THE WORLD.
O divine Lover! O divine love! how wonderful are your
works! In eternity past, there was not one adorer to be found before the
throne; but now how are the courts of the great King thronged! and thousands
and ten thousands continually worship at your throne! And by and by not only
the angels of light, but all the heirs of love—shall all sit down in the
kingdom of their Father. Then shall I get full views of you—O darling of
heaven, desire of nations, light of the world above! Men and angels were
created to be happy in you, and got their beings that you might be
glorified, and they might be blessed. But all men fell into sin—that some
might be redeemed. O wisdom finite! O Sovereign love! Then, not only being
and bliss have I from you in creation—but in the wonderful work of
redemption. And yet I am a stranger to my divine Redeemer! O when shall I
come and stand before your throne? As fast as the chariot of time can drive,
I am posting to the unseen world—but how shall I be ashamed that I had not
more acquaintance with you! To sit at your feet, will be my joy through
eternity; and to talk of your love, will heighten my joy! Should not your
love be now my daily theme—which shall be the praise of the marriage-supper
of the Lamb through eternity?
Do I believe that this world and I must part? Then, may
my heart and mind be set on eternal realities, and not on the the world's
8. JOY AWAITS THE SAINTS.
"He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you
with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17
Can I complain of my present troubles, since in a short
time—like those who walk in white robes, with crowns on their heads, and
palms in their hands—I shall be in an ecstacy of joy forever? When I am
brought from the house of mourning, to make my solemn entrance into the
King's palace, it will be with gladness and rejoicing. All my powers of mind
will be entranced at my admission into your beatific presence! All the
heavenly graces will sing in concert at receiving the crown of perfection!
All the angels of light will welcome me with joy to their great Master's
house! and the whole church of the first-born will shout my happy accession
to the purchased throne!
Yet, for all this, my welcome would be but dry, and their
song but dull—did not you, O Jehovah! rejoice over me! Did you not rest in
your love, and rejoice over me with singing! How can the heaven be
silent, if Jehovah sings? All your attributes, all your perfections shall
harmonize in my salvation. Mercy and truth, righteousness and peace—shall
meet and kiss, and shout and sing! O what astonishing transports and
entrancing melody shall fill the highest heavens! where, O amazing! where
the subject of our songs, and object of our love—shall himself be the
sweetest singer—because he does everything according to the grandeur of a
9. THE JOY OF SAINTS UNSEEN.
How do the men of the world mistake piety, and think the
Christian dull, melancholy and morose! But, O Fountain of my joy! you know
what divine delight I find in my retired moments. I only lament that I am
not more alone, or, when alone, that I am not more with you. The request of
the spouse shall be mine—Come, my beloved, let me get up early from an
enchanting world, let me go forth from the vanities of time, let me lodge in
the humble village of solitude, let me walk in the flowing field the
promise, and there will I give you my love. In these sweet moments heaven
smiles in my face, and my soul exults in God. I grasp at my expected bliss,
and taste the joys on high.
10. HEAVEN THE BEST INHERITANCE.
"Yes, dear friends, we are already God's children, and we
can't even imagine what we will be like when Christ returns. But we do know
that when he comes we will be like him, for we will see him as he really
is." 1 John 3:2 (NLT)
A divided sea, and a flaming Sinai, falling manna, and a
friendly cloud—were wonders of old. But O what a wonder is this—that the God
of glory should come down to give wings to worms of the earth to bear them
to the skies! Amazing! to see insects soar above the stars, and arrive at
the realms of glory! When, O when shall I also join the shining multitude
that sits on Zion's hill? But there is not one crawling insect in all the
heavenly country. So, though I be a worm below, while I rise to the throne,
I shall be changed into a pure being, in the assimilating beam.
Truly, O King eternal! my faith sees that the land of
promise is a pleasant land, and that your presence makes heaven a desirable
habitation. Let worldlings contend about earthly dust. I will not be
satisfied with anything but your presence. What is a province, what is
kingdom, what is an empire, what a continent, what is the whole
world—compared to an inheritance in the highest heaven! To your honor, O you
King of kings! all your glorified subjects are both altogether and always
kings. In your favor they are exalted, and none shall ever drive them from
their state. A home in the wilderness was not desired by the tribes who were
traveling to the land of promise. Nor shall I much esteem a plot of this
enchanting world, who desire to be only charmed with my heavenly possession.
O pleasant country! O land of delight! where the winter
is past, and eternal summer dwells! Sin dares not pass the frontiers of
Immanuel's land; sorrow and sickness dare not invade the seats of bliss.
Shall I hereafter inhabit the land where sin shall no more infest it? I who
have been plagued with it all my life! Shall, then, this earth, which is
marked for destruction—engage my attention, or gain my esteem—when my
eternal home is so very near? I have but a little way to go until I pass
over Jordan, and enter into my eternal possession of Jehovah and the Lamb,
where I shall enjoy all his glorious fullness, ages without end!
11. ENEMIES OVERTHROWN.
Though Israel was safe, while recoiling seas opened a
passage for the ransomed tribes; and the angel and the cloud interposed
between the heirs of promise and the hardened pursuers; yet when their
enemies are no more—but their lifeless bodies, which caused their terror in
Egypt, are lying on the shore—how do they sing and boast in their divine
Deliverer! Even so, though under your conduct, O Captain of salvation! I am
safe in spite of earth and hell at my heels, in spite of sin and corruption
rising in my heart! Yet how desirable is it to enter into the land of rest!
how pleasant to join the triumphant throng, who have put off their armor—and
put on their crowns; who have dropped the spear—and taken up the palm! In a
word, how sweet, how ineffably sweet, to cease from sin!
You know I desire to depend on promised grace, and in the
strength thereof to cut my way through all my enemies. But I also desire to
pant for promised glory, when not an enemy shall be found in all the
heavenly world. Hail happy day, when sin—which choked my graces, and slew my
comforts—shall be cast into the lake of fire! To believe in you is my duty
while below—but to behold you will be my bliss above! Faith and hope refresh
and support me in earthly state—but vision and fruition shall transport and
ravish me forever! Indeed my defense is the same—but the sense of my
security differs. Though grace shall rise into glory, yet often my faith is
shaken, and a heavy tumult ensues in my soul. But when crowned with glory,
and seated before your throne, I shall sin no more, I shall fear no more—but
enjoy divine ecstasies, sacred tranquility, and all the pleasures of the
land of love!
12. THE EXERCISE OF THE BLESSED.
O you heavenly multitudes—how are you this night
employed? "In beholding him, and praising him, in seeing him, and singing to
him. We look on him, and love him; we look to him and are enlightened; we
see him, and are like him. No fatigue deadens our devotions, no weakness
inclines us to repose! We are immortal, and our theme is eternal—so we
cannot be wearied, and it cannot be exhausted!"
What high and beautiful themes are in your songs, then, O
you redeemed from among men! O the ravishing paeans of the hosannahs above,
and the raptures of the hallelujah on high! O the sweetness of the song of
Moses and the Lamb, and the melody of the mingling notes of men and angels!
O the sublime subject of the anthem, and the eternity of the concert! "True,
O man! for our day knows no night, our song no pause, our vision no veil,
our sun no cloud, our light no shadow, our strength no decay, our felicity
no period, our love no allay, and our eternity no end!"
O exalted ones! Do you not pity us, the sons of men—to
find us so anxious and eager in the pursuit of lying vanities—as if the
things of time could please us? You are honoring Christ to the highest, for
he is in your soul, and in your song—in your love, and in your eye. O
blessed exercise! O excellency of bliss! The Most High God, in the highest
heaven, in the brightest display of his glory, in the sweetest
manifestations of his love—is the subject of your song—the object of your
adorations—and the plenitude of your possession! My rest would be your
uneasiness; for I must sleep in order to bear the toils of a perishing
world—but you rest not day nor night, and yet are sufficient for the
ecstasies of an eternal heaven! These are the years of the right hand of the
Most High God; the days of the exalted Son of man—of which I long to see. O
the strength that flows from that exceeding and eternal weight of glory! the
more weight, the more might!
Amazing thought! I shall shortly join in that song,
possess that glory, plunge into that bliss, be satisfied with that likeness,
see that well-beloved of my soul, burn in that love, share of that fullness,
and enter into that joy! Therefore, in my present low condition, it shall be
consolation to me to meditate on the sublime employment of the higher house,
until I am transported there!
13. COMPLAINTS OF SPIRITUAL
O Lord, these many years I have pretended to love you. I
have indeed tasted that you are gracious; but, alas! how can I say that I
love you, when my heart is not fixed on you? Can I love you, and not long
for you? Surely it is the nature of love to be impatient and restless until
possessed of the object beloved; yet how little do I long for you! How can I
dwell with so much contentment at such a distance from you! I am not only
astonished—but terrified at myself. O lukewarm heart! O lifeless lover that
I am! is this my kindness to my friend? Did I rightly esteem the smiles of
your face, and the light of your countenance, I could not dwell with so much
pleasure in this land of darkness. Did I regard the honor of your name as I
ought, the daily sight of your enemies would be my daily grief; and to find
myself so often acting the enemy against my dearest Lord, and best friend,
would be my continual lamentation and burden.
Is it possible I can be an heir of God, an expectant of
glory—and not pant after communion with God? Ah! in what delusive dreams
have I hitherto been held! Is the whole creation able to balance the loss of
one moment in heaven? Shall I dwell so long at Jerusalem, and not long to
enter into the palace to see the King's face! O chief among ten thousand!
strike off my fetters, and captivate my love! Divide your heavens, and let
my eye of faith look in—and my soul will follow my eye. Why should I, when
invited to a crown of heavenly glory—resort to worldly vanities? What a
struggle have I with stubborn self, present things, a carnal mind, a weak
faith, cold desires, and languid love! O to be enriched with that faith
which is the substance of all that a believer can hope for, the evidence and
pledge of all the divine excellencies of the unseen world! Then, my faith
shall work by love, and my love shall go out on God, and I shall truly long
to be forever with the Lord!
14. PREPARATION FOR HEAVEN.
Were I to go abroad, with all my substance, and spend the
remainder of my days in another land—would not some things gain my
1. I would study the language of the country, that I
might converse with the inhabitants in their own dialect.
2. I would get all the knowledge I could of the laws,
liberties etc. of those among whom I were to take up my fixed abode.
3. I would use my utmost endeavor to contract
acquaintances, and establish a friendship with the men of the place.
4. If possible, would get recommended to the favor and
protection of the ruler of the land.
Alas, then! am I less provident for heaven than I would
be for earth?
You inhabitants of the heavenly Canaan, how will you
stare at me, if I enter your assembly an utter stranger to your songs? My
trifling discourse, and carnal converse, will sound and smell of hell, in
the courts of heaven! Oh! am I to converse through eternity in the language
of love, and yet not know a letter below?
Am I to be under the laws of your scepter, O King of
saints! and not know that God is love! O! now to be searching into the
privileges of that land which I am to inhabit, not for the short time—but
for eternity itself; where I shall see the King in his beauty, and share of
the divine fullness of my exalted Head.
Would I be acquainted with the glorified church, and all
the angels of light (and, you happy ones, I hope to join you soon)—then only
in our employment we contract acquaintance, for while we worship at the same
throne, and behold the same amiable Being, faith and vision having like
effects, we are companions in love, and associates in work! and are
assimilated to the glorious object we behold!
Since in the smiles of your countenance I shall find my
eternal heaven, how should I esteem your favor above life, and ardently
breathe after communion with you below! I may dwell in any country here, and
neither know nor be known by the king; but this cannot be in your land, O
Immanuel! for unless I know and am known personally to the King, I can never
enter into that glorious place!
15. THE ETERNAL SABBATH.
How is it that I, who pretend to love you—should ever be
wearied with a Sabbath-day's devotion? If the body is fatigued, or the
spirits exhausted, how shall I stand under much intenser ardors, through
eternity itself? What do you say—you adorers round the throne? do you never
long to rest from your divine employment? "O poor mortal! how ignorant are
you of our frame, our faculties, our felicity and strength! The rest you
speak of would be our torment; an intermission of praise would pierce us
with the severest pangs of anguish. Did you see him as we do, you would
wholly melt in admiration, dissolve in love, and pour forth in praise—and
never cease, and never tire through eternity itself."
O Father of lights! pity my darkness, and enlighten me! O
fountain of life! pity my deadness, and enliven me! Though the saints in
glory never are fatigued or dulled in their divine exercises; have not I had
some happy moments, of which I did not weary? Now, when in my best frames, I
have found it so for a while. But corruption and infirmity daily distressing
me altered all, else I would have found it so for a long time. But in heaven
the spiritual frame is fixed, and infirmity and corruption are no more;
therefore, with equal ease and vigor I will worship God through eternity, as
I would one hour on earth. Well may the fire of love continually burn in
heaven, having fresh fuel added to it by the hand of God; well may my soul
follow hard after you, being upheld by the arm of your Omnipotence.
Then to worship at your throne shall be both the business and the
bliss of my eternity! When once I have tasted what it is to rest in the
bosom of God—to drink the spiced wine of bliss—to hold communion in the holy
of holies—and to worship at the highest throne; then all created beings
joined together will not drive me one moment from my dear enjoyment and
divine employment! Come, O longed-for day, when I shall mourn no more over
my feeble nature, and my perishing body; or my imperfect love; but rise to
ardors only known above, and, full of heaven—live wholly for God!
16. INDIFFERENCE TO THE WORLD.
My soul has but a dusky color, an earthly hue—because
earth engrosses my thoughts, my cares and concerns. O how little converse
have I with the unseen world! how little communion with God! One step into
the future world will render my present existence, as if it had never been.
Because this world will cheat me, shall I cheat myself? It will be a costly
bargain, to give it my soul until I yield my body to its dust. Wherein shall
the expectant of glory excel others—if his causes and cures of joy and grief
are the same? Should one who would gladly be conversant about the world to
come—so much concern himself with wind and vanity, dust and ashes? Bags of
'yellow dust' may bring me to a throne here—but the whole world on my back,
will not procure me entrance into the palace of the King Eternal.
When arrived at the seats of bliss, it will not matter
whether my journey was in the fair day of prosperity and fame; or in the
tempestuous day of affliction and disgrace. Both are forgotten in glory. But
if I love God, I will long to be with him, for I shall never get my fill of
love in a foreign land. Well, death is fast approaching, and the wondrous
hour that divides Jordan. Both deliver me from this howling desert—and
possess me of the land of promise. Under such a prospect, well may I with
cheerfulness give up my life, saying—into your hand I commit my spirit.
17. THE DISEMBODIED SAINT.
Where, dear angels—where do you carry my soul—which just
left its dying body? "Commissioned from your Father's throne, we come to
carry you safe into his immediate presence." What dismal howling is that I
hear behind us? "It is the last yells of hell's old lion, at your safe
escape." Ah! where am I now? What wonders rise around me! what fragrance
meets me from the mountains of myrrh, from the hills of frankincense! I hear
the voice of my Beloved! Sacred guardians—let me leave you, and fly into
Am I the one who lately lay tumbling and tossing on a
deathbed—who now walks in beds of roses, and on banks of bliss? Am I the one
who a little while ago, had weeping friends around his bed—who now am
surrounded with angelic song, entranced with heavenly harmony, and ravished
with delights? Am I the one who lately lay struggling with the pangs, and
trembling at the approach of death—who now am above the reach of fear, and
stroke of death?
But, O Majesty of heaven! I blush at my very entrance
into your courts, that I have been such a stranger here. What precious
time have I wasted on toys and trifles, and despised the joy of angels
and the work of heaven! Where are all the things of time now, which could
once challenge God, for the possession of my heart? Why did not your
glorious being feast my meditations? Why did not your love attract,
constrain mine? Why did not the joys of heaven drown the fleeting joys, and
dissipate the imaginary sorrows of the world? Why did I prostitute the
temple of my soul to the idols of time? Why did I permit the world
and self a place in that temple which the Godhead is to inhabit
There are none before the throne but supreme lovers of
God, a name I dare not claim; then, let me retire to the outmost confines of
the land of bliss, as unworthy to be nearer. Ah! no! At your throne I will
dwell forever, and glow in ardors, and dissolve in love. And the sacred
spark, which sin and Satan, the world and self, smothered while below—shall
burn a flame intense and strong through everlasting day!
18. A CHECK FOR NOT MEDITATING ON
Does my faith expect a kingdom—a heavenly kingdom, and a
crown of glory which fades not away? And can I live days and weeks, months
and years, without a real ardent desire to be put in possession of the
promised land? I wonder not so much that the wicked think nothing of heaven
(for who admire unknown lands?) as that the saints think so little of it,
though now and then allowed to pluck the fruits of paradise! Were the day
fixed, on which I should make my appearance at an earthly court, to be
crowned a prince—how often would my thoughts revolve the encouraging day,
and feast on the imaginary, the transitory grandeur! And in the mean time,
were it notified to me, that my sovereign expected that I should often
meditate on the majesty of his throne, on the equity of his scepter, on the
immutability of his laws, on the wisdom of his government, on the riches of
his treasures, on the sweetness of his favor, on the munificence of his
love, on all his admirable perfections—I would not need a second invitation
to these meditations. Now, when all these supposed excellencies in an
earthly monarch are realized in the King Eternal; and I am not only
permitted—but invited and commanded to meditate on him, assured that the day
is on wing when I shall be brought into the palace of the King, crowned with
immortality, and serve him in his temple evermore; what a shame, what a sin,
yes, what a loss is it—that my whole soul, in all her thoughts, meditations,
desires, delights, longings, and outgoings—is not on God, and the things of
19. APPROBATION OF TRYING
O governor of men and angels! how necessary is it for me
to be conformed to the Captain of my salvation—who was made perfect through
sufferings! Who ever expected to find bright noon—in the dark night; or
serene summer—in the middle of stormy winter; or pleasing arbors and flower
gardens—in a barren desert? Why then am I surprised that I stumble while
traveling in the night? Or that it rains and is sometimes very tempestuous
in the winter season? Or that I find barrenness in the desert, and lose
sight of my fellow-travelers in the dark? I will note my afflictions—but I
dare not quarrel. I will plead for compassion—but I will not complain. Death
has so often visited my family, that I only am escaped alone to tell, that I
have neither father nor mother, sister nor brother, nephew nor niece, nor
any nearer relative.
Yet, when the Son of righteousness shall arise on
me, I shall share an eternal day above the reach of night, a serene summer
where winter shall return no more; and a blooming paradise, and arbors of
bliss, where there is no barren desert. Also, while I leave all my
infirmities, and all my afflictions in the valley of misery behind me, I
shall find treasures of glory, rivers of pleasure, in your presence,
fullness of joy at your right hand forever! Moreover, I shall find my pious
friends in the better country, whose death I now bewail. And truly I
believe, I shall lose and overlook them, and all the heavenly crowd—while
entertained and admitted to more divine communion with Jehovah and the Lamb.
20. FAITH'S TRIUMPH OVER
In a little while, I shall be where I never was before.
And where I now am, I shall never be again. Along with every immortal, I
shall be in eternity, and bid a final farewell to time. I shall just be in
that heavenly place where my happy meditations now are. In your presence, O
Savior! at your throne, O King of kings! shall I find my heaven. Surely,
then, it can never become an expectant of so much bliss, to be sad for
anything but sin, or to find lasting joy in anything but in God. When I am
no more numbered with the living—but lamented over as a broken vessel, I
shall mingle with the multitudes of the living God, with the armies of
light, and exult in my celestial privilege forever.
Like the rest of Adam's discontented family, I am often
grumbling at my griefs, complaining of my afflictions, and on the brink of
quarreling at the conduct of Providence itself! To be without afflictions is
impossible here below, where man is born to trouble as the sparks fly
upward. Not to feel when afflicted, is a stoical, impious stupidity. But to
sink under troubles of any kind, is beneath the character of the Christian.
Yet, when I reflect on that eternity of bliss which is before me, on that
world of glory of which I am an heir, I wonder that my afflictions are not
Is it much for me to stumble among the 'rough stones of
adversity'—to have my flesh pricked with the 'thorns of trouble'—who shall
so soon walk the golden streets of heaven, and wear a crown of immortal
glory? Though the whole earth should rise up against me—if heaven, and the
God of heaven is for me—I am in perfect safety in the midst of all the
storms and tempests, whirlwinds and hurricanes, which can blow!
21. A SWEET PROSPECT OF FUTURE
How soon I shall mingle with the inhabitants of the
invisible world, I cannot say; but I may assure myself it cannot be long.
Why then do I converse so seldom with the unseen world? Why do I daily
strike my roots deeper into this world, like an old tree; when, like an old
tree, I must soon be cut down? By kind providences, and gracious promises, I
am encouraged to be heavenly-minded. And by afflictions I am chastened for
my carnality. But could my faith get one sip of the heavenly banquet, I
would long to sit down at the marriage-supper of the Lamb. What a rich feast
is found in the kingdom of God, which entertains thousands and ten thousands
of happy souls through eternity—and shall my immortal soul feed on the
refuse of created vanities! I tread under foot 'earthly shadows' and rise in
my ambition to the bliss of heaven, to the fruition of God. O what beams of
glory shine on me! What treasures open in my view—the all-sufficient God
enjoyed through everlasting day—by all the powers of my expanding,
wondering, ravished, and enlarged mind!
22. THE RAVISHING EMPLOYMENT OF
SAINTS IN GLORY.
It is owing to the richness of God's grace, and the
immutability of his love, that I do not forfeit my title to the heavenly
inheritance—by taking so little delight in divine things, and being so
captivated with the perishing creature! O fool that am! to be busied about
dust and ashes, and to delight in painted nothings; for the whole creation
shall at last be set on fire.
Then, when admitted into your unclouded and beatific
presence—what a strange change shall take place in my pursuits? I shall feel
a frame of mind superior to the claim of my faith; and my soul shall be
filled with raptures never felt—never known below. My soul shall largely
open to the sacred emanations of the Deity, and exert all her ravished
powers in searching the divine perfections, and through eternity pursue the
blissful theme. Then, and not until then, shall I know what it is to see
God, to have perfect communion and fellowship with Jesus, and to enjoy
him in all his inexhaustible fullness. There shall not be an unemployed
moment, nor an idle thought there. Crowns and kingdoms shall not excite one
wish there (why then should lesser things excite so many wishes now, since,
I am to be so soon there?) but God's infinite, lovely self shall be my all
in all through eternity!
23. A REPROOF FOR DECAY IN GRACE.
With tears of blood might I write bitter lamentations
over the deadness of my soul—the darkness of my heart! Is the beloved of my
soul in heaven, and shall the love of my soul grovel on the earth? Has he
who is fairer than the angels of God—lost all his beauty with me? Has he no
form nor loveliness that I should desire him, meditate on him, and long for
him? O the mad career of my foolish mind—to hunt after shadows, vanity,
wind—and let heaven and glory go! O happy day of glory that is on the
wing—when sin shall poison my pursuits no more; but all my soul, with the
ardor of heavenly love, and the vigor of perfected grace, shall search the
adorable perfections of God!
24. THE NOBLE INDIFFERENCE.
The brevity of time, and the near approach of
eternity—give to the rightly-exercised soul a noble indifference
about everything below. What does it matter whether I dwell in a palace or a
prison—since it is but for a day, an hour, a moment! What disappointment
should grieve me in time, if I shall possess God for eternity? I look around
me, and see multitudes eager on the chase, keen in the pursuit of created
vanities, forgetful that the world is passing away. I look forward to the
invisible world, and see multitudes in their eternal state, astonished at
the stupidity of men—that the 'trifles of time' should preponderate so much
with them. I also find myself in the deluded throng of triflers, and condemn
my own vain conduct.
A hundred years ago, the earth was filled with
inhabitants, who are now in eternity. They then straggled along the road of
human life with care and concern, with burdens and bitterness—but now are
forever at their journey's end. I am now traveling the thorny path, and
shall also shortly arrive at my eternal home. The interim is so short, that
nothing that can befall me should either give much pain or pleasure. I am on
the wing to the celestial paradise, and no blasts in my face shall hinder my
flight to the city of God!
The brevity of time may be bitter to the sinner, because
torment and eternity seize him in the same moment. But it must afford me
joy, for the shorter my time, the nearer to my endless felicity. All the
complicated afflictions of time must disappear when time is no more. Why,
then, take deep concern, or heavy sorrow; or much joy, or lasting delight—at
the ill or good of the few flying moments on our journey to eternity? My
soul is immortal, and God is eternal. Therefore in God below, and in God
above, in God in time, and in God in eternity—shall my soul find boundless
pleasures and unfading bliss!
25. NO HAPPINESS BELOW.
Never shall I attain to happiness, while I seek it in the
creature, or expect it outside of heaven! O how little concern should I have
with the things of time, who am so far on my journey towards eternity! When
the world gets into the affections, there is nothing but tumult and disorder
there; this I have long found. But when heaven dwells within, the heart
becomes a little heaven, and all is peace and serenity, composure and joy.
O! then, to keep the heart barred against 'enchanting trifles,' and to live
above everything below. At the hour of death, I shall make my triumphant
entry into the New Jerusalem, and from the walls of the holy city I shall
bid defiance to all the cares of life, the pleasures of sense, the
multitudes of corruption, and the legions of hell.
26. GOD A NEVER-FAILING PORTION.
With respect to this world, I sleep but a part of every
day; but with respect to eternal realities, alas! how long is my sleep, how
little am I awake! O it is sad to be taken up with dreams and shadows, and
to neglect eternal realities! I am happy to be shaken out of my false
confidences, and to hang on my heavenly Father alone; and if disappointed in
my support, it will not be owing to the instability of my prop—but to my not
leaning on him aright. However, I am happy with his rich grace and
overflowing love, in spite of all temporal disasters. I am content, even if
the whole of my life were one series of disappointments, one continued
tempest and storm—since the hour of death brings me safe to the other shore,
where the enjoyment of God and the Lamb shall replenish my whole soul
27. GOD CLAIMS THE WHOLE HEART.
O to have communion with God in all things, and at all
times; and for this end I should keep for him my heart. If I am visited by a
great friend, I must not ignore him by playing with trifles; lest he grow
angry, and be gone. Just so, God expects my heart, claims my meditations,
and is affronted when he is not in all my thoughts. O then, to get my idols
destroyed, my meditations swept of vanities, and my heart wholly kept for
28. THE BEST EMPLOYMENT.
To prepare for the world to come may well employ my time,
the short while in this world. And the sweet hopes of the heavenly paradise
may well support me while traveling through this earthly wilderness. And
when I arrive there, it shall not diminish my bliss, that in my pilgrimage I
sometimes had storms and tempests in my face; clouds and thick darkness
around me; troubles and dangers in my way; strangers and enemies as my
companions by the way; and that I was often walking without any company at
all. When I arrive there, I shall get such a view of the wisdom which
conducted me along, that I shall not only approve of it—but admire, adore,
and sing of it forever!
29. THE DEATH OF FRIENDS.
If we love to converse with our friends, surely I should
love to converse much with the unseen world, where all my godly friends are.
Several years ago, death swept off all my family into the unseen world. Thus
Providence has torn my family to pieces, blasted my pleasant prospects,
plucked up the olive-plant which graced my table, cut down the fruitful vine
which flourished by my side; and so desolated me, that I have no near friend
to consult with about the affairs of this world, or the concerns of the
unseen world. Now, if there was no other state than this, no other world but
the present, surely my situation would be extremely melancholy. But there is
a future state, an unseen world which balances all. So, while the tear
starts in my eye from affection to my friends, a triumph rises in my heart,
from a knowledge of their felicity. The days of my mourning will come to an
end—but their happiness and hosannahs are eternal!
30. DIVINE WISDOM IN OUR VARIOUS
The wisdom of the gardener is seen in the cultivation of
his plants; some he sets in the sun, others in the shade; some in a rich,
fertile soil, others in a dry and barren ground; and thus the gardener's
skill is conspicuous, for each thrives best in its own soil. Then, since
Infinite Wisdom has allotted a great part of my life to sorrow and solitude
(not that I complain) I realize that I could not grow well in another soil.
Behind the high wall of adversity, and in the shade of
affliction, the saints will bring forth fruits of humility, self-denial,
resignation and patience. These graces cannot grow so well in the
sun-beams of prosperity.
Now, if another soil would be more agreeable to my
spiritual growth, the heavenly farmer would soon transplant me there. It
does not matter, though I grow in the shade—if the Sun of righteousness
shines on my soul, and makes every grace to flourish. He knows better what
lot is best for me, than I do myself. In choosing it for me, I should rather
admire his wisdom, than complain of his conduct; the more so, when I
consider that on a barren soil, and in a lonely shade, he can cultivate
plants that shall bask in the eternal beams of glory!
31. THE MIND TOO LITTLE ON HEAVEN.
Alas! how little do I converse with myself, how little
with the unseen world, how little with God! and yet what various events in
adorable Providence call for my attention! With God there is a time to
give—and a time to take; a time to remove—and a time to restore; a time to
afflict—and a time to comfort. All these things point me to my latter end,
and admonish me to converse with the unseen world. Now, what solid
consolation may this yield to me—that he who is my best friend, is Supreme
Governor over all! He will shortly, through all events, bring me to the
eternal enjoyment of himself!
32. THE DUTY OF THE AGED SAINT.
The kind providences of my lot, command my gratitude to
my Heavenly Father—my entire dependance on his arm—and peace and composure
in my bosom. The heavenly promises of being brought home to glory, and
satisfied forever with his likeness, may shed a little heaven through my
bosom; and because I am so far advanced in life, may rather cheer than
distress me. O how vain and uncertain is this world—but how sweet and sure
the unseen world—towards which I look! When Hezekiah got the message of his
death, he turned away his face from his courtiers, his officers of state,
and his attendants, towards the wall; for none of our friends can attend us
through the dark valley of death. So in view of my approaching dissolution,
I should turn my face, my affections, away from all created things.
I am now, like the Israelites, arrived on the very banks
of Jordan, and just waiting for the command to cross over. Until that day
comes, I wish by the 'eye of faith' to take pleasant and repeated views of
the unseen world. This will wean me from this present wilderness—endear
heaven to me—and encourage me in view of passing over the river. Israel
dwelt forty years in the desert—but when they left it, they left it for good
and never pitched a tent there again, or expressed the least desire of
returning there. Just so, though I should dwell seventy years in this weary
world, yet when called away, O with what cheerfulness will I leave the land
of my pilgrimage, the place of my exile! When gone, I shall be gone forever,
and raise a triumphant song at having entered my everlasting rest; and being
set forever free from sin and earth, from infirmity and death!
33. AFFLICTIONS WILL ATTEND US TO
At times, I may be ready to say—"Is there any trouble
like my trouble with which the Lord has afflicted me?" Yet I know that I
should never complain of my difficulties. However numerous or uncommon some
of my afflictions may be, I thereby am conformed to the happy souls before
the throne, who came out of great tribulation and fiery trials. I am to
acquit Sovereignty in the kind and in the duration of my
afflictions. Nothing should grieve me, but my sinfulness. Divine
Love, Infinite Wisdom, and Sovereign Grace, can turn this shadow of death
into the morning, and out of this roaring lion bring forth food to my soul!
(In the following short
meditations, Meikle writes as though he were in heaven—and was looking back
on his conduct on earth.)
While I find myself in the arms of bliss, with what
language shall I condemn my conduct in time! Why was I content to have dwelt
on the other side of Jordan forever—to put up with a fool's paradise for
eternity! O! why did my soul not go out more after God? Why did not my love
center on him alone? How could I treat my best, my heavenly friend—worse
than a common traveler! My house received the one, but my heart bolted out
the other! How low was my esteem of the fairest One whom ever angels saw, or
seraphs sung! O that ever worldly trifles should have called my meditations
off that work that would have kindled my love and heightened my joy! Why did
I look always through a false medium, on everything that concerned me? Is it
possible that this vast inheritance of glory could appear in my eyes, as a
little despicable island which lay beyond an unknown ocean? O! have you
bestowed this boundless inheritance of bliss on me—who once gave my
affections so much to passing vanities! Was my love ardent to every other
object but the God of love? Oh! was not my esteem for earthly trifles beyond
what all their excellencies put together deserved?
Why did not the fire of my love burn continually with a
most vehement flame—a flame that many waters could not quench? Why did I not
consider that you are consummate love, and that eternity, where I have now
arrived, was a land of love, and that the song of the redeemed is just the
warmest breathings of divinest love, "To him who loved us!"
O what a hard, adamantine heart was mine, that in the
midst of your flames of love—was not melted into love! But now the furnace
is heated seven times hotter—and the cloudless emanations of eternal love
make every grateful power of my mind rise to the throne of God, like savory
incense from the smoking altar!
Can I ever forget, in this exalted state, my folly when
in time? How unfitting for an heir of heaven to take so much thought about
the earth! Did I believe that such immense treasures were reserved for me in
the land of promise—yet my unbelief distracted me about the trifles of a
day! Where now is the advantage of all my corroding cares, and disquieting
concerns? How unfitting for one whose strength was the joy of the Lord,
to feel grief for the perishing things of time! Why did I think it so bad to
be poor in the world, where my dearest Savior, whose hands created the
golden mines—beautified the sparkling diamond—and enriched the precious
stones with brilliant glow—lived and died in extreme indigence? Why did any
sorrow that was bounded by time, and ended in death—disquiet my soul?
Whatever I lost in time being of a perishing nature, could not enrich me now
in heaven. It matters not what I lost while on earth—for all is reserved for
Another error I was guilty of in the days of my
pilgrimage below, was joy in the perishing things of the world. And yet all
that I possessed, when I came to the hour of death, could neither avert the
stroke, nor mitigate the pangs of dissolution. How like the ungodly, was I
to rejoice in that which is bestowed on the basest of men, and often tends
to the basest of ends! Yet was I bewitched with 'shining dust'! How lonely
would my passage have been, O best Beloved, through the valley of death—with
all the treasures of the world—without your presence! With triumph I walk
along the golden street, and with endless joy trample the shining gold, that
dared once invade my heart, and decoy my affections from divine things! Ah!
was I ever so stupid, so brutish, as to make any comparison between
riches and righteousness; gold and glory; earth
and heaven; the creature and God? Now I would not
stop my worship one moment—to possess the whole world; nor stir one foot
from the throne of God—to sway the scepter over the nations. Now I am
happier than the nobles, higher than the kings of any land!
O King Eternal, how am I changed since I came into your
presence! the emanations of your cloudless glory have made me exceeding
pure; and you have bestowed upon me excellent majesty. How is this—for a
vile worm, to rise into a pure spirit before your throne, and grow fairer
and fairer in your assimilating beams? Sin would not know me now—though it
often blackened my conscience, and saddened my countenance; for now my
conscience sings, and countenance shines, having full
redemption in Jesus' blood. Who would ever think that my heart, which is now
a garden of delights for my well-beloved—was once a field of daily battle?
Fellow-sufferers would not know me now—but take me for an ancient inhabitant
of the land of bliss, and not for one that lately sojourned in dreary Mesech,
and dwelt in the dark tents of Kedar. O what a heavenly change, what a
divine metamorphosis is this! in which all my powers of mind so deeply
share. In the day of grace it was much to be like David the man of God; but
now in the eternity of glory, I am like the angel of God! Ah! deeper
wonder still! like the God of angels! Hosanna, Hallelujah!
No wonder that in the world I did not think more of
salvation, and the work of redemption—for I dwelt in darkness, and
tabernacled in clay. But since I have entered within the veil, and come into
the presence of God himself, the mystery is revealed, and my enlarged powers
of mind are filled with wonder and amazement! I once thought that I was
something—but since arrived into the more immediate presence of the Being of
beings, I see I was absolutely nothing—a mere non-entity!
Had the shining seraphim left their sparkling seats, and
rapturous songs, to lead such emmets through the howling wilderness,
it would have been a wonder. But for him—at whose throne the prostrate
angels fall, and on whose glory Gabriel cannot look—the Father's fellow, the
God of angels, the fountain of happiness, and the king of heaven—to descend
to time, to clothe himself with flesh, to humble himself to death, and to
encounter all the storms of his Father's tremendous wrath! and that for the
very wretches that rebelled against him—is, and will be the wonder of
Here in the highest heavens I see the extravagance of my
folly, when on the footstool of earth. How did I mourn for my expiring
friend, as if I had never heard of immortality; and sorrow for the dead as
one who had no hope! To what purpose were my tears, my anguish and my
wounded heart? Did I dispute the will of God, or envy them their bliss? Did
such sadness in my countenance make my heart better? Why did not faith
behold afar off this happy day, when so few moments intervened between their
decease and mine? Now earthly relations are lost—but not forgotten; lost in
the dearer tie and diviner unity of the heavenly family. Not a godly
relative is lost—the dear loved one retains not the putrid disease—but
appears beauteous as the smiling morning, and lovely as a holy angel. In
some, imperfect grace and perverse nature might raise domestic storms, and
impede their prayers at the throne of grace; while in others, too high
esteem and fond delight might prove as fatal to their soul's concerns. But
now all sinful defects and lawless excess are removed—and we share in
others' bliss, and join in others' songs, triumphing over death and weakness
through eternal day!
While walking through the valley of tears, how many have
my mournful melancholy Sabbaths been! While sin and Satan, objects without,
and distractions within, have harassed and perplexed my mind—while sadness
seized on my soul! Now that I have arrived this eternal day of rest, what
streaming joys dilate my ravished soul, to find myself possessed of
everlasting Sabbath! Nothing from without, and nothing from within—can
defile my soul, or distract my devotions. This is the day that I have longed
for! In your presence, O adorable Redeemer, O majesty of heaven—shall
eternity be one Sabbath-day! And all the everlasting day, I shall worship at
your throne; and the length of the day shall be the delight of my soul! Nor
shall my sanctified heart need a constant watch, as once against her
ravings, seeing it is essential to the perfect state, and heavenly frame—to
pour out all my affections on God.
The heirs of heaven need not take it amiss that they are
mourners while traveling through the fields of Bochim, the valley of Achor.
So short is the duration of their sorrow—compared to the eternity of their
song—that they have hardly time to heave the deep fetched sigh, until their
heart-strings snap, and their joyful soul flies into their heavenly Father's
arms, and enters eternally into the joy of their Lord!
Such is now my happy state above! And though in the 'dark
night of time' I mistook every 'mole-hill of trial' for 'mountains of
distress'; yet it was only the 'shadow of trouble' which attended me—the
'shadow of grief' which waylaid me, and the 'shadow of death' that I walked
through. In reality—that trouble could not devastate me; nor grief
destroy me; nor death devour me! But now even the shadow of evil is
past—and solid, sure, substantial good is mine! I enjoy the essence of joy,
the quintessence of bliss—even God in his own heaven, God in his own Son!
Richness of glory—rivers of pleasures—fullness of joy—oceans of ecstasy—ages
of communion with God—entrance my every ravished power!
How happy are all the multitudes around the throne! How
content those who have been often disappointed! How cheerful the mourners,
and how happy all the sons of sorrow! Glory is such a weight, and God is
such a portion—that every power of soul is ravished and blessed above
conception! In the fullness of the heavenly bliss there is neither want nor
woe, vanity nor vexation—preying on any soul! But God, in his divine
perfections—fills and overflows all!