Northampton, 17th August, 1792. Dearly beloved in the Lord Jesus,
WE arrived safe here, and are in good health. I have drawn and brandished my sword at Tippoo the black prince, and I was not alone in the field of battle; the God of armies seemed to be present; not a dog moved his tongue, nor a person hardly moved his foot: they were all attention, all silence, all waiting and expecting, and I hope their expectations were not cut off. I heard B. here on Tuesday night; we had the wind and the earthquake: but the fire and water, dew and rain, oil and salt, honey and butter, milk and wine, meat and bread, were all wanting; it was a concert, not a feast; it was all for the ears, nothing for the palate; much music, no provision; a deal heard, but nothing felt; I had hard work to keep my eyes open; there came nothing from the vision, so I wanted the pillow: it was a terrible noise, but not enough to keep me awake. Such are poor midwives, but worse shepherds, and worse nurses. No man shall ever touch the mystery of godliness in the saint's heart, who never was in God's secret counsel. The Saviour is a sealed mystery, the Bible a sealed book, and the Church a sealed fountain, and none but the ever blessed Spirit of God can unseal, open, or explain either of these three. They that get at the Saviour will get at us: if they get into his heart they will pick the lock, and get into ours also; but they know us not, because they knew him not. Blessed be God for ever for a preached gospel, and blessed be his name for ever for an unctuous experience of its divine power: we are in the covenant, they go round the bounds of it; we get into the guest chamber, while they bungle at the door; they have no crosses, and so no consolations; they have no bitterness, consequently no joys; they have no adversity, therefore no prosperity; they have no rods, and so no sonship. Trials are our purifying furnaces, our purging draughts to keep us clean, and our bitter herbs to give us an appetite; and there is nothing in us that dislikes it but the flesh and the old man, neither of which are very great friends to us; to be at peace with these is to be at war with God; an alliance with them is attended with enmity to God himself.
I take it for granted that our old friend Peg is still feeling after a path that is overgrown with moss, where it will be easy for her corns, and where she can walk in her old clouted easy shoes. Ah, poor Peg! thy road shall have some rough as well as smooth steps; some crooks as well as straits; some mountains of difficulty as well as vallies of humility; some perplexing entanglements as well as directing landmarks; it lies through the dreary desert as well as the valley of Baca. Go on, old girl, thou shalt neither lose the way nor miss the end: the anointing, the unction from the holy One shall teach thee, guide thee, lead thee, check thee when wrong, and cheer thee when right, and teach thee a thousand little lessons in thy own heart, which thou shalt never be able to teach or explain to another in this world. Lay by listening to the devil and unbelief; have no ear but for Jesus; we know he is true, but the others were always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies: this witness is true, therefore rebuke them sharply.
I shall go from hence on Monday morning next, and shall lodge at B's, &c. The Countess goes with me: she is handed about from house to house, and is set no small store by; she seems to be at home to a hole. Tender my love to Ruth, to Sarah, and to all friends. I have wrote to B. and to E. A. and shall shortly write to the ancient line.
James, God bless thee, my son, the son of my vows, and my companion in travail. Peg, God be gracious to thee, my daughter, and give thee favour in the sight of the man, that thou mayest lie at his feet and find grace in his sight.
W. H. S. S.