I have been reading portions of John Wesley’s Journal (the Founder of the Methodist Church in England- 18th Century). He made the following entry on June 19, 1760: “We dined at Kilkenny (Ireland) noble in ruins: I see no such remains of magnificence in the Kingdom (England). The late Duke of Ormand’s house, on top of a rock, hanging over the river, the ancient cathedral, and what is left of many grand buildings, yield a melancholy pleasure. Thus ‘A little power, a little sway, a sunbeam in a winter’s day, is all the great and mighty have between the cradle and the grave.'”
Just a few days after I read this, we drove by a palatial mansion of a man who recently died. There it sat behind a beautiful gated wall; perfectly empty, except (perhaps) for the caretaker. I also experienced that brief “melancholy pleasure” that Wesley described. Such magnificence, but just a remnant.
I think my feelings of melancholy, however, stemmed more from musing about my own life and the remnants that I will leave behind. Such remains, though not as magnificent, will be equally worthless to me. When I die, my net worth will be reduced to zero and all that I possess will become the possession of others. Think about that.
I read another section in Wesley’s Journal written many years later (ca. 1790) that moderated my melancholy. He was 85 at the time and claimed to be relatively healthy due to various reasons; one of which was rising at 4 am and preaching at 5 am everyday for 50 years. He gave a run down of his physical and mental condition (how his short- term memory was slipping). “Even now, though I find pain daily, in my eye, or temple, or arm; yet it is never violent, and seldom lasts many minutes at a time. Whether or not this is sent to give me warning that I shall shortly quit this tabernacle, I do not know; but be it one way or the other, I only have to say,
“My remnant of days, I spend to His praise, Who died the whole world to redeem;
Be they many or few, my days are His due, And they are all devoted to Him!”