To Noctua Aurita, of the Desert.
THE language of my heart at this time is, Was ever one favoured with such a friend, counsellor, and guide, in this world before? There may be; but this I can be certain of, that there never was one so unworthy of it. Every epistle I receive from you knits and unites my heart more and more to you. O what a sweet bond is this which knits every member of Christ to each other, and to their head! Your last favour has unmasked Satan to my view in such a manner as must enrage him greatly. Little did I think that the inordinate affections, and the sounding of the bowels, came from him. I have felt something of it before, and do to this moment. O, my dear friend, pray for me, that I may have wisdom given me from above that I may not be ignorant et his devices! Never did I see him in so formidable a view before. Surely he desires to have me, that he may sift me as wheat; and, if the prayer of the great High Priest does not prevail on my behalf, I must fall by his temptations. Your epistle brought to remembrance many visits paid to me in his white robes during these six months past. O what praise is due to God for keeping me from falling by this snare of the fowler! I have had many of the lectures on election which you mention, and the doctrine applied, and his ends answered, in my last trial. Rebellion enough I felt. Safely he might withdraw for a season; he was sure he left me miserable enough. You have, indeed, prophesied of a dark path I have to travel, which has wrought some discouragement in my heart. I am sure you will be a true prophet in all your predictions, and not one word of all you have spoken shall fall to the ground. Satan seems to me to be the most dangerous when he comes to bloat up the soul with pride. And I have found him approach in this way when I have been much in the enjoyment of divine love, as Mr. Hart says,
And makes even grace a snare.
I felt so much of this about seven months ago as made me abhor myself. This was a little before my journey to the Bower, when God met me by the way. Our dear pastor made an observation in the pulpit, about a week before I received your last favour, which struck me very forcibly. It was this: that pride goeth before the destruction of a sinner, and a haughty spirit before the fall of a saint: and observed, that it was the devil's aim to get his on this ground, and then he was sure to procure our fall. And your mentioning in yours the ways and means he makes use of to effect this, and that from your experience, was very seasonable to me: and I found that, "A word fitly spoken is as apples of gold in pictures of silver;" for the Lord makes me to fear this more than any thing. I am sensible there can be no safety but at the feet of Jesus. But true it is, as you observe, it is not a little crossing and trying that will keep me there. I find I am wrong in my views of envy and jealousy. Pardon me, dear Sir; I have, perhaps, spoken for want of light. But you are looking forward to a time when, you say, I shall be a better judge of it, even when my preaching time is over. Indeed, Sir, I aspire to no such thing as preaching. As you say, prate I do, and that when I should keep silence, which is known by the effects, by its bringing on me hatred and envy instead of love. I am often brought into snares by my tongue, which is an unruly member, and I have smarted both for my speaking and my keeping silence. But, if I am to be left free among the dead, laid irons a whole year, and be given up to the sleepy devil, I believe my mouth will be shut with a witness. If any thing less than this would do it, I should be thankful.
However, I hope ever to have an interest in your prayers, and to be favoured with your correspondence, which I feel are among my greatest privileges. Shall hope to hear from you very soon, and believe me to remain
Your very sincere and affectionate friend in the bonds of the gospel,
The King's Dale.