Letter XXIV.

To Noctua Aurita, in the Desert.

I can no longer be silent in acknowledging your last kind favour, and telling you that it came not to me empty. O the goodness of my God to me, such a wretched, unworthy creature! Well might the apostle say, "What manner of love is this that is bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God!" But I must begin and tell you where your Letter found me; though I confess, it will make my Letter appear more like a journal than a Letter. I was contending with the Almighty to his face, and telling him, it was in vain to wait on him, or look to him for that which I was seeking for; and that he knew he had killed me to all but himself, on purpose to aggravate my misery. I likewise called his prophets liars, and said they had prophesied only what they wished might come to pass; but he knew he never put such things in their mouths. Many times did I read your Letters, and God wrought by his Spirit with them, so that I felt my hard heart melt, in some degree, under the power and light that attended the contents to my soul, and contrition and godly sorrow began to operate, and I had a view of the goodness of the Lord to me in keeping me from getting from under his hand, and going where those fled you mentioned. This made my very soul to melt within me. This was the language of my heart, "O Lord, keep me under thy chastening hand as long as thou seest best for me; choose my path for me; help me to put my mouth in the dust, and to bear thy indignation, because I have sinned against thee. Only let me never find any soul-satisfaction in any thing but in the enjoyment of his blessed presence." Thus I was Friday and Saturday. On Sabbath morning I found my mind cloudy and dark. I saw where his excellency was: for, very far from the spot I stood upon, I could not bear the rays of his countenance; for surely the face of Moses never shone brighter than his did at that time; and never sure was a soul more burnt in the flames of jealousy than I was. I am sure my feelings could never be equalled but by Satan himself. I had been basking in the rays of God's presence, and now cast down to the lowest hell without a gleam of hope. And, besides this, what further added to my jealousy, I saw the dew sweetly distal on two persons who sat near me. I knew they had found him whom my soul loveth. But on Monday morning he did come indeed, and gave me such a view of his love and faithfulness to his word, oath, and covenant, as my pen nor tongue can never describe. Your prediction was indeed fulfilled; for he came down on my soul as the dew on the mown grass, and as the rain that waters the earth. And such a time in prayer did my soul never experience before. He admitted me into his very heart, and his language to me seemed the same as the king's to Esther, "What is thy petition, and what is thy request? and it shall be granted thee, not only to the half, but the whole of my kingdom." But I found I wanted another enlargement, that I might ask enough; for I saw there was no straightness in God. And the Lord knows what I did ask at this time, for I know not. But, whatever it was, I shall know hereafter; for nothing can be impossible to this faith. However, in a few hours I found my mind clouded again, and Satan was permitted to assault and suggest to my mind that it was not real, and that I was catching at something I could not hold fast. But these words settled and decided the matter, "It is the voice of my Beloved: behold he cometh leaping on the mountains, and skipping on the hills." And a sweet peace I found in my soul. However, before the day was past, I felt my mind again beclouded, and my soul disturbed, and Satan suggesting that it was not real; but the above words were attended again, the second time, with power, and kept vibrating through my very soul, for, I believe, two hours; and the matter was made clear to me that I was not deceived. On Tuesday morning the Lord met me again in prayer; and I bless his name, he renewed the same over again, as he did the morning before; and sweetly did he commune with my soul; and he has brought me to sit at his feet, clothed, and in my right mind, and has told me, that he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure; and that he will lead me into the mysteries of it, for the half has not been told me; and never before did I feel such contrition and godly sorrow. It has killed me outright, and, as you say in one of your Letters, bleeds my very soul to death. O how much do I need your prayers, that I may be kept near him, that I may not be carried away! for Satan will use all his efforts to get me again into his sieve. I have communicated this to no soul living but yourself, thanking you for all favours. I know you are wise as an angel of God; therefore, if you see any thing in this Letter that is not produced under the influence of the Spirit of God, fail not to communicate it to me as soon as you can; for I have reason to be afraid of all my joys. If it should be proved they be false, please to keep the contents of this secret; for, if they know I am up again, they will be trying to make me the keeper of their vineyards, which, perhaps, would be attended with a neglect of my own. Indeed, at present, I want no conversation with any body; I am so afraid of losing what I have got. Adieu.

The King's Dale.