To Philomela, of the King's Dale
I HAVE just received mine own with usury. The bee found its way to my hive with wax on its legs and honey in its bag. The promised land still flows with this delicious fare. Eat as much of it as doth thee good; for such is the knowledge of wisdom when it enters the heart; "then there shall be a reward, and thine expectation shall not be cut off." I am a tenant at will; and every little wind that shakes the cottage I am ready to take as a warning to quit, which will hasten my arrival at the better house not made with hands. And I am the more inclined to entertain such thoughts, as our Israel at large begin to loathe the manna, calling the weightier matters light food. For such conduct the divine resentment may justly appear; yea, and will appear, to send a famine in the land, and cleanness of teeth throughout all their tribes. The numberless clouds without rain, which are blowed to and fro with every wind, throughout all our coasts, are certain preludes to this evil arrow; for they will make empty the soul of the hungry, and cause the drink of the thirsty to fail. But even this shall not deprive me of my crown, nor screen their bricks from God's scourge. How light are these bodily afflictions when the dying love of Jesus affords to the weary mind a downy pillow! "I will keep that man in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on me." This is making all our bed easy in our sickness, and is the sweetest rest to the soul on the bed of languishing.
It is true the eye of faith, in the rays of the morning star. perceivers the day-dawn and day-spring from on high inclined to visit; and the soul struggles hard to quit the dark and gloomy regions of death's shadow. As the radiance of immortal glory spreads, the more precious is it for the eye of Faith to behold the sun. This is seeing Him who is invisible to all the sight of mortals, or to all the light of nature. The goodness of Jehovah appears in the land of the living; faith perceives it, and draws her unerring conclusion to the enlightened mind, that" He is the fairest among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely." The heavenly dawn shines upon obscure prophecy, and illumines that dark place, and brings divine harmony to light, where carnal reason had bred the worst confusion. Confidence puts her hand on divine veracity, and waits till faithfulness makes the promise good. And here the soul faints unless she believes. But the heavenly dove flutters in the heart, 'broods over the soul, and produces hope and expectation, which are both the soul's anchor and looker-out: the former stays her from sinking in her fainting fits, and the other fills her with anxiety till the desire is accomplished. Thus faith sees the promised object at a distance, and a divine impulse on the will bends it to make the choice, until the immortal seed of electing and everlasting love is shed abroad in the heart by the promised Comforter; and then the affections are all called forth to acquiesce in and to admire the choice. Now the Ancient of Days, and the child whose age is a hand-breadth, are no more at a distance. The Sun of Righteousness and the worm of the dust meet together, without any danger of being scorched or dried up. He presents his suffering nature to view, and shines through it; darkness passes, and the true light shines; while the eye sees, the ear hears, and faith feels the word of life. O how melting, how humbling, how soul and self-debasing, is the vision! And, when it speaks in the court of conscience, then" the just shall live by faith." There is no more spirit left; all, all is drunk up, and crucifixion takes place; fellowship in his sufferings, and being planted together in the likeness of his death, is both felt and understood; and the effect is, the world becomes crucified in the vision, and the sinner is crucified to the world. This is manifesting himself on earth to the objects given him; and, when he awakes, arises, and ascends again, he takes the heart, the affections, the thoughts, the desires, wishes, appetites, and all the powers of the soul, with him, and leaves us as mere shadows without substance, machines without wheels, or as automaton figures. We may speak, and that is all; and sometimes not that. Whether in the body or out of the body we cannot tell; God knoweth. The match is made, the knot is tied, and Philomela is bound up in the bundle of life with the Lord my God. The bond of the covenant has encompassed her; and all that he loves must live; for the true light always conveys dying love, which is his healing beams. All light unattended with this, is short of the saving health promised to all nations; for there is neither salvation, health, nor life, in it. Bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, and one spirit with him, and complete in him, and without fault before the throne; these are great mysteries. But I speak concerning my master and mistress, whose willing servant I hope ever to remain. Signed and delivered.
From the Desert.