by James Meikle, 1730-1799
Communion with God is an expression often in my mouth—but which sinks no further. I may know the word—but neither its blessed import, nor glorious extent. My prayers and practice jar; for while I beg it with my lips, I study not to attain it in my life. Ah! what a stranger am I to that which I would gladly have flattered myself that I am acquainted with! Alas what do I know of walking with God—of that joy which is found in believing? What do I know of the lasting and abiding impressions of his inexpressible love! What do I know of that transforming vision, and assimilating sight which is enjoyed below, whereby the soul is changed into God's image, from glory to glory! What do I know of dwelling in his presence all the day long! What of pouring out my soul in prayer to him! and wrestling with him for the blessing! How seldom is my meditation of him sweet!
Union with God is the basis of communion with him; for how can those walk or talk together who are not agreed? O then be joined to the Lord, and become one spirit! But, my soul, mistake not communion, for it lies not in a flaming profession, nor in the performance of Christian duties, as reading, hearing, praying, praising, though enjoyed in these; nor in the greatest abilities, and brightest talents; nor in lofty expressions in prayer; nor in the knowledge of divine things.
What is it then? It is just a dwelling in and with God, and God dwelling in and with the soul. It is God's love going out on the soul, and the soul in love going out on God. God dwells in the duty with supplies of grace, in the meditation as its subject, and in the heart as a portion and chief good. And the soul dwells in God as her ultimate end, dilates in his fullness, delights in his bliss. The soul that is blessed with such a communion, favored with such a fellowship, knows no other object for her love; no other subject for her thoughts; no other employment for her faculties; no higher degree of happiness for her attainment, than consummate communion; no other beloved for her affection; and no other end for her existence. Nor is this all. In communion with God, the soul shares of his fullness, communicates of his glory, drinks at his pleasures, satiates herself with his love, participates of his communicable perfections, enters into his joy, and partakes of the divine nature. O life of angels! O paradise of love, O transporting employ! O ecstasy of bliss! The soul is always with Gods now in prayer, then in praise; now in meditation, then in worship. She has not a complaint but she tells to God; not a grief but she makes known to him; not a sin but she mourns over, to him; not a request, not a desire—but she reveals to him. O that holy intimacy that is contracted between the soul and God! that freedom of converse, that wrestling with God in prayer, disputing about the blessing! Let me go—I will not let you go until you bless me! This is the life of heaven on earth, God come down to man—or man taken up to God.
Now, my soul, what do you think of all this? Ah! the carnal mind is enmity against God, and against communion with God. Then I must either be crucified to the world, or cursed with the world. Communion with God is not a 'Sunday's devotion'—a rapture in time of praise or prayer, and returning greedily to the world. Communion is another thing than I have hitherto taken it to be. It is constant and continual. I should endeavor to keep my soul always in an heavenly frame, even in earthly affairs—thus the angels, even in messages to our world, carry heaven with them. Although I must mind the necessary affairs of this life, yet I should carry God to the field with me, and to the closet, to the street, and to my table. I should work, and walk, fall asleep, and awake in his presence; and talk with him on my bed, when all around me keep silence; and when hurried away with vain rovings, my soul should still return to God, as her center, as her resting place.
O the pleasure that is in this life of communion with God! It is a young heaven, with which, in the highest degree of perfection, all the saints in glory are blessed. Then, Lord, begin this life of communion in my soul, to which I am too much a stranger! Destroy everything that would destroy it! And as I would desire to live with you hereafter, so let me endeavor to live with you here, and thus improve for eternity, and prepare for the world to come!