Seasons of Solitude

Genesis 24:63
       And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide.

RICHARD BAXTER (1615-1691): When we read that Isaac went out to meditate in the field, the margin [KJV] says to pray: for the Hebrew word signifies both. Thus in our meditations, to intermix soliloquy and prayer; sometimes speaking to our own hearts and sometimes to God, is, I apprehend, the highest step we can advance to in this heavenly work.

R. L. DABNEY (1820-1898): The Christian life must have its seasons of quietude and calm meditation…Time must be allowed in sacred seasons for divine truth to steep the heart with its influence.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Occasional and frequent retirement for religious purposes is a duty, and it will be found our privilege…It is alone that we disengage ourselves from the dominion of the world: the world conquers us in a crowd, when our sense are dazzled, and our minds amused, and we are too much occupied to find out the cheat―but when we are withdrawn from it, when we calmly consider it as an object of lonely contemplation, O how is its importance diminished, how is its influence reduced―ah! It is then we sigh―vanity of vanities, all is vanity. It is alone that conscience operates, that motives impress, that truth is examined, and applied. It is alone that we obtain a knowledge of ourselves; there we can examine our condition, investigate our characters, discover our follies and our weaknesses. Alone we can be familiar with God and divulge to Him secrets which we could not communicate to the dearest friend, or express in any public, or social exercises of religion.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Have we not all known what it is to find that, somehow, we have less to say to God when we are alone than when we are in the presence of others?

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): If you love God, you cannot be at a loss for something to say to Him, something for your heart to pour out before Him, which His grace has already put there.

GIROLAMO SAVONAROLA (1452-1498): When any one begins to enjoy the Holy Spirit, he is glad to be alone, and immediately separates himself from other comforts and corporeal recreations, which would not be, if he did not feel within his heart greater consolations than those he refuses.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): We have the most of God, when we are alone with Him, and sequestered from all distractions of company and business.

JONATHAN EDWARDS (1703-1758): True grace delights in secret converse with God.

WILLIAM JAY: David was fond of retirement, and was much alone in meditation and prayer…We shall never be less alone than when alone. “Go forth,” says God to Ezekiel, “into the field, and there will I talk with thee.” Isaac, at eventide, was meditating in the field, when the Lord brought him Rebekah. Jacob was left alone, when he “obtained power with God,” and with man, and prevailed. Nathanael was seen and encouraged under the fig-tree. Peter was by himself praying upon the housetop when he received the divine manifestation. If the twelve patriarchs, or the twelve apostles, lived near us, and their presence drew us from our closets, their neighbourhood would be a serious injury to us. No creature can be a substitute for God. And it is alone we hold the freest and fullest communion with Him. It is there the secret of the Lord is with us, and He shows us His covenant. There we become acquainted with ourselves. There we shake off the influence of the world. It is good to be there.

JAMES DURHAM (1622-1658): Privacy is a great friend to communion with Christ.

THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): The more any man loves Christ, the more he delights to be with Christ alone. Lovers love to be alone.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Aye, and there are sacred seasons when we shall be so enclosed that we shall not be at ease in any society, however select, for our souls will pine for sweet solitude, secret communion, hidden embraces; we shall be compelled to walk alone with Christ…Oh, there will be periods with your soul, if it be renewed, when you must be alone, when the face of man will disturb you, and when only the face of Jesus can be company to you. I would not give a farthing for that man’s spiritual life who can live altogether with others; if you do not sometimes fell that you must be a garden enclosed, that you must enter into your closet, and shut-to the door; of if you do not feel season when the society of your dearest friend is an impediment, and when the face of your sweetest relation would but be a cloud between you and Christ, I cannot understand you.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): If thy dearest friends intrude unseasonably between thee and thy God, it is neither rude nor unmannerly to bid them give place to better company.

RICHARD SIBBES (1577-1635): He wants no company that has Christ for his companion.

ROBERT DINGLEY (1619-1660): The soul that can meditate on God is never less alone than when alone, for its fellowship is then with the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

THOMAS BROOKS: Jacob did never enjoy so much of the presence of God as when he had left the company of men. Oh! The sweet communion that Jacob had with God when he withdrew from his family, and was all alone with his God by the ford Jabbok! Certainly Jacob was never less alone than at this time, when he was so alone. Saints often meet with the best wine and with the strongest cordials when they are all alone with God.

WILLIAM JAY: Observe the advantages of occasional solitude―What was Nathaniel doing under the fig tree? We are not informed. Perhaps he was reading the Scripture―perhaps he was engaged in meditation―perhaps he was praying―perhaps he was joining himself to the Lord in a perpetual covenant, saying, “Lord, I am Thine, save me, and manifest Thyself to me.” Some purpose had allured him there, which our Saviour noticed and approved; He saw him in secret and He now rewards him openly, John 1:47-51. Does He see us? Are we strangers to retirement?

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Would we but frequently retire from the world, and bestow some of that time in secret waiting upon God, which we lavish out upon inferior pleasures, and entertainments of the creature, we should invite God’s Holy Spirit to us.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): Commune with your own heart in your chamber, and be still, and you will then hear the secret whisperings of the Holy Ghost.

WILLIAM GURNALL: Borrow as much time as you can for communion with God, and communing with your own hearts in secret.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Sit down and think. Commune with your own heart and be still. Go to your own room and consider. Contrive to be alone with God.


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