Letter XXI.

To Philomela, in the King's Dale

I AM still kept looking out at my study window, with my heart not a little set on my intended journey, to the King's Dale. But my weak state of body, and the long, miserable, wet season, not a little discourages me. I long to see and know how you all go on. I am just like an old hen, which hath got more chickens than she can cover with her feathers; for my thoughts are all over the nation, and I am always afraid of the hawks and kites. But this is indulging fear where no fear is; for under his feathers his children shall trust; his truth shall be their shield and buckler. I want to see the King's herald; for, if I do not see nor hear from him every four or five days, all is not right. O, when shall that happy time arrive, and that blessed mansion be inhabited, where the inhabitant shall no more say, I am sick! where those dismal changes from cold to hot, from dry to wet, shall be no more; nor the soul be clogged any more with this worst of burdens, a crazy tabernacle, and a body of death. I sit, and fret, and grieve, to see the weather so bad, and myself so weak and feeble; my thoughts can fly, but I am stall in the study. What a sensible weight is the body to a soul enlarged! The one is all over heaven, earth, and hell; and the other quite immovable; always incapable, more or less, of executing the soul's inventions. The elephant and the greyhound, the dove and the swine, never were more unequally matched than a body of flesh and blood, and a soul born from above. I decree many things, but they are not established unto me; I purpose, but my purposes are broken off. "To will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not." It is a blessing that God works in us to will, seeing he often accepts the will for the deed, as he did the will of Abraham at the offering of Isaac, and the good-will of David respecting building the temple. But it is a grief to me that so excellent a couple should ever be absent from each other. Willing and doing are not always hand in hand. The former is generally found, but the latter is not. "To will is present," says Paul, but not the doing. Perhaps the reason may be this: the devil cannot hinder us from willing, but he often hinders us from doing. "I was coming once and again," says Paul, "but Satan hindered." Again: I can will without the body, but the body is often wanted in performing; and, like Pharaoh's wheels, draws heavily, when the soul, like the chariot of Aminadib, or like Jehu, drives furiously. O this frail tabernacle, this busy devil, and this wretched law in the members! I must conclude in this strait between two; and these two make me often waddle. I am ready to halt, and my sorrows are continually before me.

Ever thine,

The Desert.

Noctua Aurita.