It is the intense fixing of the thought on some heavenly subject, till either the mind is informed, or the heart affected. It may be compared to the bruising of sweet spices, which makes them spread abroad their odor; or to the chewing of our natural food, which makes it fit for being digested into nourishment.
Happy is the soul, who, being renewed in the spirit of his mind, can retire into himself, from the hurry of the world, and from the storm of passion, to converse with God and Christ, and things above, and find that solitude is sometimes the best society; -- who, with his own thoughts, can cheer the darkness of the night, and soothe the labors of the day. While he is musing, the fire of holy love burns, vanity disappears, and holiness advances.
Ask you the themes on which he dwells? Neither on things that are too high for him, nor things unprofitable and vain. Instead of weaving spiders' webs, or hatching cockatrice eggs, like the vile person, who will meditate villany, and his heart will prevent the night-watches, to meditate on thy statutes, O God. When he remembers thee upon his bed, and meditates on thee in the night-watches, he will rejoice under the shadow of thy wings; his soul will follow hard after thee, and thy right hand will sustain him. His meditation of thee shall be sweet, both when the morning shines, and the evening draws her curtain over the world. How great shall be his peace! how great his safety! and how unspeakable his joy!
Or, shall thy person, and thy meditation, O exalted Redeemer! what thou art, what thou hast, and what thou hast done or suffered, employ his thoughts? When his heart shall indite a good matter concerning thee, his soul shall be filled with marrow and fatness. He shall meditate on the agonies of thy cross, and mourn for thee whom he has pierced; the glories of thy present state, and rejoice in thy highness. Thou will send thy holy Spirit to take thy own things, and shew them unto him, that he need not betake himself to antichristian aids, of bringing thy dying love to his remembrance. Though crucifixes and pictures should not meet his eye at every turning of the street, yet will he naturally think of thee, the author of his life, and centre of his happiness.
Often times he will take a trip into the world of spirits, and come back all immortal. His thoughts will range in the eternal regions: contemplate the happiness of the heavenly state, which he will compare with the restless agonies of unquenchable fire; and beholding this glory of the Lord, he will acquire a blessed meetness for, and longing after its enjoyment; -- will think but lightly of his transitory affliction; -- will be roused who inherit the promises; -- will commiserate their mistaken smiles, who take up the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ. His faith will be strengthened, his hope invigorated, and though his outward man should perish, yet, for this cause, he will not faint.
At other times he will indulge the thought of death; -- will consider his latter end; -- will familiarize unto his thoughts the dismal solemnities of his dying bed, and say to the grave, "it is mine house."
Shall I mention, in the next place, how he will regard the doings of the Lord, and consider the operations of his hand; that he may know what the Most High is calling for, in a way of duty, by every merciful interposition of providence; and by every frowning dispensation; and that, like a man of wisdom, he may hear his voice, and see his name.
But we must not at all forget, how he communes with his heart, how his spirit makes diligent search, how he considers himself, lest he be tempted; and what is that sin which easily besets him. For thus he regards the avenues of temptation, because he knows what is the plague of his heart. -- What shall we say more of him? In the divine law, "he meditates day and night; and shall be like a tree planted by the river of water, that bringeth forth fruit in his season. His leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doth shall prosper."
Monday, August 31, 2009
William M'Ewan, Select Essays, pp. 195-197: