Motives to Divine Meditation

What have I to do with this vain world? have I not long since renounced it as incapable of making me happy, and therefore unworthy of my care? and yet it will intrude with its vexatious teazing vanities to hinder, or at least to interrupt my attention to awful realities. Again I repeat, Vain world, be gone. O that I could shut my heart effectually against thy mischievous influences – The fashion of this world passeth away, its amusements fleet before me in quick succession on the wings of time, and soon these eyes will close upon the transient scene, to open on eternity. – Eternity – amazing idea! – how shall these active, thinking, reasoning faculties which are now so often busied with trifles, be employed through the endless duration? The sacred word assures me that every one shall receive for the things done in the body according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. God is just, and everlasting misery must be the portion of every wretched soul who leaves this mortal stage unsanctified and unforgiven, then will the powers of thought and reflection be employed in bitter yet unavailing remorse and unutterable anguish, far from God and far from hope, in the dismal regions of despair, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched! – dreadful eternity! – tremble O my soul and fly for refuge to Jesus who delivereth from the wrath to come; in him is safety, life, and bliss for ever – thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift! – and can I, do I hope for an interest in this almighty Saviour? and, through his all-sufficient merits, for an entrance into the mansions of glory where love and praise and raptures inconceivable shall employ the active joyful powers of every happy spirit through the ever-circling ages of eternity! Blissful eternity! – and have I any hope of joining in that sweet employ, and shall I not begin it here? O blessed Redeemer, work in my heart by thy own Spirit a sincere contrition for all my vile offences and ungrateful wanderings! increase my faith, my hope, my love and joy, and fix my thoughts in delightful meditation on the pains thou hast suffered, and the happiness thou hast prepared for them that love thee! – And what heart, O adorable Saviour, but must love thee that has ever enjoyed a glimpse of thy infinite excellence with hope of an interest in thy great salvation! – Can I reflect unmoved, on the state of never-ending misery my sins deserve, on the dreadful pains thou hast suffered to redeem lost perishing sinners who come to thee as their only refuge, and on the heaven of everlasting joy thou hast ensured to them for their glorious inheritance? Can I meditate on these animating subjects which I hope have sometimes warmed my heart, and not wonder at my frequent coldness! – Alas, how frail is my heart! how foolish and ungrateful! frail and foolish indeed, to be tempted away from my true interest, my only happiness, by empty vanities! – and O what vile ingratitude to be forgetful of such infinite obligations! – Shall admiring angels search into the glorious wonders of redeeming love with all the ardour of intense desire, and shall I be cold to its surprizing charms, and hardly raise a languid wish to reach the immortal theme! Yet angels cannot taste the sweets of pardon, nor feel the transporting joys of salvation from eternal woe, for those happy spirits have never sinned.

Ye sons of harmony who ardent tune

To boundless joy the Heaven-resounding song,

O could I hear your rapture-breathing strains,

How would my kindling powers awake to praise

And join with extacy the blissful theme;

Earth’s flattering trifles then should tempt in vain,

Nor interrupt my sweet, my blest employ.

But O my great Redeemer! thou only canst inspire the sacred flame, thou only canst teach me the celestial song: grant me the kind influences of that blessed spirit which thy gracious promise encourages me to ask, display before me the amazing wonders of thy love, give me the assured hope of pardon and salvation through thy infinite merits, teach me to begin the work of heaven below, and bring me at last to the glorious assembly of the ransomed of the Lord, to join the celestial choir in strains of harmony and praise unknown below, and repeat with immortal ardour, blessing, honour, glory, and power unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.

Text: Text: STE 3/4, no. 18, Steele Collection, Angus Library, Regent's Park College, Oxford; Miscellaneous Pieces in Verse and Prose, 1780, pp. 213-17; also Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 2, ed. Julia B. Griffin, pp. 245-46.