Preliminary Epistles

To Philomela, in the King's Dale

AS I have heard that thou wast long in a profession before it pleased God, by the mouth of his herald, to pull thee down and renew thee, I should like, if it be not too great a favour, to know how that first work began. I know that God's work is perfect, and that nothing can be added to it, or taken from it; and that God doth it that men may fear before him. But sometimes the work hath small beginnings, and goes on almost imperceptibly, the impressions not being deep, as in Job and Hezekiah, who, after a long profession, were led into awful discoveries of their own depravity, and who afterwards were favoured with more conspicuous deliverances, and with brighter views of God's great salvation, and of their interest in it. I should like to know whether you had any sight or sense of the plague of your own heart, the natural hardness and impenitency of it, the infidelity, the rebellion, and carnal enmity of it; and if you were exercised with legal bondage, the wrath of God, and the terrors of a broken law; the fear of death, and the torments which attend it; all of which the saints in the Bible complain much about. And, indeed, how can those be made free who are insensible of their bonds? or those need the physician who are not sick; or those be reconciled who never felt their enmity? or those receive the love of God who have neither fear nor torment to cast out? No small number who stand high in their profession are ignorant of all these things; and sure I am that the office and appointment of Christ doth not reach them, for he was not sent to feed the full, to heal the whole, to support the strong, nor to call the righteous. He was sent to bind up the broken-hearted, to open the prison to those that were bound, &c. They toll us that they were drawn by love; but all that God loves he rebukes and chastens, and scourges every son whom he receiveth; and declares that those who have no chastisement are bastards and not sons. A reply to this will greatly oblige,

Dear sister,

Your willing servant in Christ,

The Desert.

Noctua Aurita.