by James Meikle, 1730-1799
Many are reckoned great by the world, and are often envied by their inferiors, who are yet ignorant of what renders man truly great. A courtier, as Ahithophel, a prince, as Haman, and a king, as Belshazzar, may be vile and sordid people; for often in the highest stations the basest of men are set up. Coaches and chariots; horses and hounds; many servants, and a numerous retinue; a sumptuous table, and fine apparel; high titles, and honorary posts; great friends, and noble blood; rich connections, and immense wealth—do not constitute true greatness. It is not nobility, or popularity, or beauty, or talent—that will render one great. It is not strength of body, natural courage, liberal education, bright parts, or sparkling genius—that can make a truly great man. Hence this seeming contradiction, yet sterling truth, Great men are not always great.
Are there, then, great men any where to be found? Yes, though they attract not much notice or regard of men. The holy, humble, self-denied soul, is truly great. He who lives above the things of time, and has his meditation on God, and the things of the invisible world. He who is pleased with a little of the good things of this world—can forgive enemies—pass by affronts—forget injuries—repay hatred with love—rejoice in tribulation—triumph in faith—have rule over his own spirit—mourn for the sins of the times—weep over his lack holiness—tremble at God’s threatenings—depend on the promises—bewail his omissions—repent daily for his sin—wrestle in prayer, and prevail with God, and, Enoch-like, have his conversation in heaven, and walk with God—this is he who is truly great in the eye of angels, in the eye of God!