“Like a Weaned Child is My Soul”

“Weaned from what? Self sufficiency, self will, self seeking. From creatures and the things of the world—not; indeed, as to their use, but as to any dependence upon them for his happiness and portion…Yet this experience is no easy attainment. The very form of expression — “I have behaved and quieted myself”, reminds us of some risings which were with difficulty subdued. There is a difference here between Christ and Christians. In him the exercise of grace encountered no adverse principles; but in them it meets with constant opposition. The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and when we would do good evil is present with us; hence the warfare within.

So it is with “the child that is weaned.” The task to the mother is trying and troublesome. The infant cries, and seems to sob out his heart. He thinks it very hard in her, and knows not what she means by her seeming cruelty, and the mother’s fondness renders all her firmness necessary to keep her at the process; and sometimes she also weeps at the importunity of his dear looks, and big tears, and stretched out hands. But it must be done, and therefore, though she pities, she perseveres; and after a while he is soothed and satisfied, forgets the breast, and no longer feels even a hankering after his former pleasure. But how is the weaning of the child accomplished? By embittering the member to his lips; by the removal of the object in the absence and concealment of the mother; by the substitution of other food; by the influence of time.

So it is with us. We love the world, and it deceives us. We depend on creatures, and they fail us, and pierce us through with many sorrows. We enter forbidden paths, and follow after our lovers; and our way is hedged up with thorns; and we then say, “Return unto thy rest, O my soul; and now, Lord, what wait I for? My hope is in thee.” The enjoyment of a greater good subdues the relish of a less. What are the indulgences of sin, or the dissipations of the world to one who is abundantly satisfied with the goodness of God’s house, and is made to drink of the river of his pleasures?”

William Jay [1769-1853], in “Evening Exercises for the Closet”