MY DEAR FRIEND,
SINCE my return a cold, a fever, and the rheumatism, came on me all at once; so that I soon became an invalid, more fit for the baggage waggon than the field. In my lonely ride around I was not a little indulged, which is not often the case with me. I did enjoy my God; his presence was with me, his countenance was lifted up upon me, and his glory was fresh in. me. All nature looked gay, and to me there appeared more beauty in a flower, a field of corn, a bird, or a tree, than in all the artificial works of man, or all that I could imagine of the seven wonders of the world. God's presence, and a comfortable frame under it, cast a lustre upon the whole creation; whilst a gloomy and a dismal one will be gloom and stain it, and make the rays of the sun as black as sackcloth of hair.
I mourned over him; I melted at his presence; I revered, admired, and adored him, and loathed myself; his glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. I could willingly have continued to ride post on the forest till the last penny was gone, had this visit been prolonged. These are days of the Son of man, which are to be desired, but not continued in our country. But these visits, though transient, at least with me, preserve my spirit from concluding that he is gone for good and all; though, like a wayfaring man, he turns aside, and tarries but for a night. However, the most distant view, the faintest smile, or the most imperceptible approach, is highly prized, being much needed, though undeserved.
My pilgrimage is attended with a continual looking out; for, if I am indulged, I look for desertions; and, if my meditations are sweet, I expect the wormwood and the gall to be at hand; and I am sure to be right in these things. Continual exercises keep the life of faith and hope in motion, when a freedom from changes brings indifference, careless ease, and slothful neglect. As for myself, I daily feel my need of food or physic; the dross must be purged, and faith must be fed. A cheering ray from his blessed countenance; a sensible visit, a smiling providence, a blast upon the counsel of our enemies, God's judgments upon scorners, a word sent home in due season, a favourable dream, an answer to prayer, freedom and enlargement of heart on the knees, sensible support in trouble, constant deliverances out of afflictions, succour under temptations, a sense of the great atonement in the conscience, the fruit of peace as the effect of righteousness by faith; these, all these, are food for faith.
My dame sends her love to you, and Mrs. M.
THE COAL MERCHANT.