People like to make lists, such as task lists, shopping lists, pros and cons lists, favorites lists, bucket lists, best-of lists, brainstorming lists, books-I’ve-read or books-I-want-to-read lists, checklists, sometimes even list of lists– you get the idea! A saint of old, from the mid-1700s, was fond of making lists. But his lists were intended to generate spiritual growth, by renewing the mind and centering the heart.
James Meikle (1730-1799) was a surgeon and devotional writer in England. In 1758, he began writing meditations and devotional writings. A man of strong religious convictions, deep understandings, and profound joy and cheerfulness, Meikle continued to write for more than 41 years until his sudden death on 7 Dec. 1799.
The Value of Things by James Meikle, August 1,1765.
The value of things are best known by comparisons. Let me, then run a comparison between this present life I now enjoy, in all its best things, as well as its worst things—and that better life I expect after death.
In this life, I may have at times—
- A measure of health.
- Some tainted pleasures.
- A few friends for a few days.
- Some acres of ground.
- Fine clothing.
- A wealthy house.
- Bread to eat, and water to drink.
- A portion of the good things of time.
But—in eternity I shall have always—
- Eternal vigor.
- Pure delights and holy raptures.
- All my godly friends with me forever.
- An unbounded inheritance in the heavenly Canaan.
- Robes of righteousness and garments of glory.
- A house not made with hands.
- The hidden manna, and the river of life.
- The glorious treasures of eternity.
In this life, I may have—
- Communications of grace.
- Freedom from the reign of sin.
- A measure of faith.
- God in his ordinances.
- Manifestations of love.
- Access to the throne of grace.
But in eternity I shall have—
- Deliverance from the being of sin.
- Immediate vision of God.
- Uninterrupted communion.
- All the transports of eternal assurance, and everlasting bliss.
- Uninterrupted attendance at the throne of glory.
Now, what a wide difference is there between my best state here—and the better, the blessed state above! But how will it still widen, when my worst condition is brought into one side of the comparison with this melancholy addition that I am often in my worst state.
Things I Do
In this life, I —
- Often sin against God.
- Go mourning without the sun.
- Dwell in the valley of Achor, and my exercise is lamentation and mourning, and my daily attendants are sorrow and woe.
- Death snatches away my nearest and dearest friends, and with them crops all the joys of life.
- My knowledge of divine things is very lame.
- My graces often are baffled by prevailing corruption and a tempting devil.
- Diseases attacks me often, and death awaits me always.
- I am often too ready to say—what a weariness is it to serve God.
- I daily see transgressors and am grieved with self-destroyers.
- Both vain and wicked thoughts often, alas! too often rise, rage and ravage in my mind.
- Often my society is among those who seem to have no fellowship with the Father nor his son Christ Jesus.
But in eternity—
- I shall never offend God’s holy eyes.
- My sun shall go down no more, and the days of my mourning shall be ended.
- I shall dwell on the mount of communion, and my exercise be praise and worship; and my attendants transport and joy.
- Jesus, my best Friend, shall forever cheer my ravished eyes, and fill my folded arms.
- I shall know—even as I am known.
- All my graces shall wear the crown of perfection.
- I shall never complain of sickness, being above the reach of sin and death.
- I shall serve him day and night with rapture and delight.
- There shall not be one Canaanite in all the house of God. There shall not be one sinner in all the land of glory.
- My soul shall be swept of all the trash of sin, and all my thoughts shall soar in adoration, and dissolve in love.
- I shall associate myself with the general assembly and church of the first-born.
Comparison and Reflection
Seeing the difference is so wide, what a wonder that I am not daily longing for the better! If Joseph’s felicity made him forget, not only his toil—but his father, and his father’s house, surely, when I arrive at the kingdom of my heavenly father, all the tender fondness of friend and brother, of parent and husband, will be swallowed up in nearer relations, and lost in a divine love.
Would not the prisoner venture out of a dark dungeon—to the broad day? So, though death be a dark step, yet the inviting glories of an eternal world lie beyond it, the dawning beams of which enlighten the dreary shadow.
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