Sept. 10, 1812.
I SHOULD have acknowledged yours to me before now, but I have been busy with a work for the press. My success is great, as you will
see in what is coming out; and I perceive that great success is attended with various trials: the branch is purged, that it May bring forth more fruit. This purging in former days used to be succeeded with much indulgence, some sweet access in prayer; and much enlargement of heart, boldness, freedom, and familiarity; which seemed to make all up, and set all clear, fair, and straight; and it made him more precious . than ever, as I used then to consider all my books as settled, and all my accounts fairly adjusted from that day; and much comfort followed upon such considerations, the peaceable effects being then enjoyed. But I have nothing of this now; I fall into fits of unbelief, bondage, wrath, and bitterness; and then come out just like Solomon's fool brayed in a mortar; neither humble, submissive, nor resigned: but rather into ease and carelessness; with no constraints to prayer, nor fervour at it.; and of course the mind is not relieved, which makes me more indifferent still. Soon after this I am tumbled into the same dark cells again, and then a little dead ease succeeds as before; which is such puzzling work as I cannot unravel; it makes me fruitful in murmuring and rebelling; but in nothing else, unless it be in the pulpit, where I have in the general much liberty, attended with no small degree of power. But that the ministry should be fruitful, and the minister dry, barren, and dead, is a harder puzzle to me than Samson's riddle. However, this is the way that I go on; and I am as contented with it as the devil in chains.
Fault is found with some for having left their first love; and I have striven, and striven lawfully (I mean by prayer) to recover mine, but never could; nor do I believe that it is recoverable. I have pleaded, "Return, ye backsliding children, and I will love you freely;" but the fervent love of former days I never could regain, nor any thing like it. With others fault is found for having a name to live when dead. I have done all, I think, that can be done with that text, in order to obtain life; but to this day I appear in my own soul dead as a wool-pack; enmity, rebellion, unbelief, and carnal lusts, are still alive and lively; but nothing else that I know of, unless it be discontent with. a lifeless life. I have now emptied the dregs of the cask, and all the rusty scraps of the budget, by which you may guess at the abundance of the heart, as I have kept nothing back; for I cannot, will not, act the hypocrite. Tender my love to dame, and Mr. M. and his wife Nanny.
JONAH under the booth, near Nineveh.