To the Rev. Mr. HUNTINGTON. MY DEAR FRIEND
YOUR engagements probably have prevented you from sending me a few lines in answer to my last, which I wrote some weeks back. However, when the Lord gives you a word for me, I know you will send it. What you have from time to time communicated has been the greatest support, I trust, under the blessing of God, that I ever met with yet. How true the saying of the wise man, "Better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off." I had many brethren in a human religion, but they all stood afar off; they stood aloof from my sore; and further and further they seem to go. God has weaned me from that milk, and drawn me from their breasts; and they are now mocking and insulting. But the worst of all is, the Lord is far from the words of my groaning.
I often think of the state of Saul when the Lord would not answer him either by dreams, by Urim, or by prophets. There is not a good word either in my heart or in my mouth; and for some days I am in a state of cold indifferency; dead to every thing; no satisfaction nor pleasure in any thing under the sun, nor from him that causeth it to shine: and, when the state of my soul returns with some degree of weight on my mind, then I fret and am filled with impatience. When I can find no access to God, no liberty in prayer, no word going out from my heart, heaven as iron above, and the earth as brass, then rebellion and blasphemous thoughts work up in my heart, and scarce can I keep the door of my mouth. What will the end of all this be? If I am quickened, what can be the cause that the Almighty leaves me so long in such a lingering condition? But this is only presumptuous reasoning; "He will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth:" and it is this that makes my wicked heart often to heave against him.
I am much afraid at times, though you think you have seen something of the good work begun in me, that it is not begun yet. When my mind is led back to a view of the iniquities of my youth, I see something of a very heinous nature in my sin; especially the sin of presumption in all my profession. I fear these marks are like those of a deceitful and reprobate mind. I know I was often warned by conscience, and yet I persisted. That I had sinned against the Holy Ghost used to terrify me almost out of my senses when I was first alarmed: but I can see now that I never committed that sin: I never rebelled against his light and power, for I never knew them. But fear some are in danger now from that awful ground. I know light and power have gone with the truth that I have been enabled of late to deliver, whatever becomes of me; and I am afraid some rebel against it with full purpose of heart.
To bear the reproaches and scourges of these tongues is not an easy work to flesh and blood: it grieves my very heart, and makes me often wish that I had never spoken a word. The tabernacles of Eclom and the Ishmaelites, of Moab and the Hagarenes, they all help the children of Lot. Letters are sent from ministers in London to Lewes, to caution the people from receiving my errors, and to endeavour to prejudice their minds against me. Will not the Lord do unto these as unto the Midianites, as to Sisera and Jabin? What have I done? O that I was sure of my interest in the truths that I see, and in some measure am enabled to speak! then I would not care for any of them: but that I myself, after all, may be a cast-away, discourages me.
The Bible is often as if it had been locked up, and not one ray of light opening in it; and my heart fretting against God, and the temptation following me to the pulpit, that I shall not have a word to speak, and that I have neither lot nor portion in the matter. And yet, in general, when I open my mouth, I have such boldness to speak, and am constrained by such power, that I am astonished at myself; and, when I have come down, I have been ashamed, and wished I had not spoken as I did. I know not what will become of me. The Lord bless your soul, and prosper your labours. I hope, with the Lord's leave, soon to see you. Let me know if you have any intended journey in the country, that I may not miss you. I believe you do not forget me; and my sincere but poor wishes are for your prosperity; while I remain,
Ever sincerely yours,