Letter XXII.

To Noctua Aurita, in the Desert.

We received safe your last favour; and I was sorry at the account of your indisposition. Hope it has pleased the Lord ere this to have restored you to health again. Hope you will again have your health established. With respect to myself. I find the world, and every thing in it, is against me, besides the flesh and the devil. But the worst of all calamities that ever befel me is, that God hath hid his blessed face from me. He has fenced up my ways that I cannot pass; he has set darkness in all my paths; he hideth himself with a cloud in his anger; and at times I am ready to fear he is gone for ever, and never will return more. I at present can find no book suit me better than your "Child of Liberty in legal Bondage." It is my companion; and sometimes I think you must have wrote that book on purpose for me, that I might not quite sink under my present distress. Your last Letter is a composition of the same bitter ingredients, which you have brought forth from your own experience, not only your former, but your present sensations under your present trial. Pardon me if I tell you I tried to suck some sweetness from it. And it has encouraged me a little to hope that I may be brought through; for these have been my companions by day and by night, for these five months past; and I really do believe that I am not near through this perilous path. O, my dear friend, had I but attended to the sound advice you gave me in the second Letter you wrote to me, it had been better with me at present than it is, and that was to keep secret the dealings of God with me, and watch every advance he made towards me, and then, you told me, I should have rejoicing in myself alone! But I have been wiser in my own eyes than seven men that could render a reason. I was not then aware that self was working at the bottom of all; and I find true that saying of the wise man, "A man's pride shall bring him low." And low I am at present, and as fast in the cords of legal bondage as ever a poor soul was. You say, in the book that is my companion, "In this cloudy and dark day to be favoured with faith in exercise, but one minute, enough to banter the enemy, and predict a future sun rising, is a blessing indeed." This has been the case with me two or three times during the first five months, when God was pleased to shine with, a ray of light on a part of his word, and give me to see something of the end for which he was thus dealing with me. But now it seems to be taken from me, and I have had nothing of that for these three months past, though I can say, with you, that I do not fee. unappeased wrath or unatoned guilt work in my conscience. These ingredients are not in my cup, which were in my former bondage. But severely do I feel the cruel flames of jealousy burn with a most vehement heat. Nor did I know that it was an ingredient that worked in the heart under a spirit of bondage till I read it in the book my companion. The Tuesday evening you came to my house you seemed to come as a prophet sent of God, and did predict to me the coming of him whom my soul loveth. But the language of my heart, though I did not utter it with my mouth, was the same as the Shunamite's to Elisha, "Nay, my lord, thou man of God, do not lie unto thine handmaid;" which was the effect of unbelief in her, and in me; and, indeed, I am so under the power of unbelief, that I cannot give credit to any thing but what seems to make against me. But certainly true it is, that since that time the darkness has gathered thicker upon me, and I am holden faster in my fetters than I was before, but no light to see where I am. And nothing but almighty power can rend the veil, and bring me forth from this captivity the second time. It will be matter of comfort to know if God lays my case near your heart. I hope you will never cease to pray for me. And do, my dear friend, make it your petition to God that he would be pleased to shine upon the work he has done upon me by his own Spirit, that I may not be deceived in this matter, and take the work of Satan for the work of the Spirit of God; for I must tell you I have not light to see the place from whence I did fall; and I know it is only God that can discover this to me. This is a confused jumble. I am almost ashamed to send it to you; but hope you bear with me and pardon me; for I am so dark, and feel my mind so confused, that I am not able to express my own feelings. Accept my thanks for all your kind favours bestowed on one so unworthy; and, if God should give you any thing to send me, I shall be exceeding glad to receive it, and likewise to hear how your health is at present; and believe me to remain

Your very sincere and affectionate friend and afflicted sister,

The King's Dale.