To Noctua Aurita, in the Desert.
I RECEIVED your kind Letter, and am obliged to you for your kind inquiry after my spiritual welfare. Your Letter found me in the footsteps of the flock; though I must tell you it did not find me on the heights of Zion. I am got on the barren mountains of Sinai; and my soul is as the mountains of Gilboa, without either dew or rain: therefore these words of David suit me, "I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant:" for I can say also, with him, that I do not forget God's commandments. Since I wrote to you last, which is now more than four months, I have been led in a strange path. If you recollect, I wrote to you just before the Lord had granted me that second enlargement from the bondage in which I had lain for five months. This was a sweet revival of the work. But, alas! gradually did those sweet sensations on my soul wither, and down from the mount I came before I was aware; and for two months I had not the least light on the path I was in; only I knew what I had lost. Nor could I get any help from the sanctuary, nor strength out of Zion; and, for want of light I could not describe my strange feelings to any one; yet I was not in deep distress all this time, though I knew I was not comfortable. However, I was sure it was a path I had not been in before. But, about a month ago, under one of the orations of his Majesty's herald, the Lord was pleased to shine with a ray of light while he was describing a speech of my great great grandmother's, recorded in the annals of antiquity; where she says," I sleep, but my heart waketh." In a moment I was given to see that I was in the same case, and her prayer was that moment mine; and from my heart I could say, "awake, O north wind, and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out." Ever since the Lord brought me into the liberty of the gospel, these words have perplexed me, why the venerable spouse should wish to awake the north wind. But I believe I know the secret now; for I had rather be under the influence of that gale than to lie wind bound, which is my case at present. But, upon this discovery of my state, my beloved seemed to put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him. This seemed, in a measure, to rouse me from my spiritual lethargy, and a little fervour was communicated to my spirit, which enabled me to arise and open to my beloved. But, as it fared with her of old, so it does with me; for my beloved has withdrawn himself, and is gone; I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer; and, since that time, I bare lost that little fervour I then found on my spirit, so that I have no heart to seek him. But the light which discovers where I am remains still with me. This is my present state; and how long I am to lie at anchor I know not; but I do not, at present, feel the least breeze from the everlasting hills to fill the sails. I feel this a sad case indeed, and can find no access to God; no faith in exercise to plead his word of promise at a throne of grace. Therefore, if you see my beloved, tell him that I am sick of love.
The questions you ask a solution of are not I am sure for your own information; but, whatever your motive may be, I am bound, from a grateful sense of my obligations to you, to answer any question you shall ask, if it lies in my power: and I hope I shall ever bear my testimony against such a lie as that viz. that the believer, after being once brought into the liberty of the gospel, is never entangled again in legal bondage; my own experience is point-blank against it. Therefore I know that those who assert such things know not what they say, nor whereof they affirm. For I am sure this is the third time that I have been in legal bondage since the Lord was pleased to proclaim liberty to my soul, which is but two years come next week; and I think my wanderings have been something similar to those of the prophet Elijah, when he went a day's journey in the wilderness. I have always been made to experience the wind, the earthquake, and the fire, before I have been favoured with the still small voice which has brought me back again; and have been made as bitter in my spirit as was the prophet, when he sat under the juniper tree, and requested of the Lord that he might die, though he knew it was contrary to God's will. Moreover, I am in a strait to know what this can be. I know it is the effect of legal bondage; and I have felt it as keen and as galling since my deliverance as I did before, only with this difference, as you observed to me in a former Letter, "that unappeased wrath, and unatoned guilt, are not mixed with it." But I must conclude with thanking you kindly for all favours, and begging a continuance of them, attended with an interest in your prayers for me, that I may be kept from every snare that Satan may spread for my feet, and that the Lord would condescend to visit me again, and restore to me the joys of his salvation, and uphold me with his free Spirit, that the wilderness and the solitary place may be made glad and flourish, and the desert blossom as the rose. Then joy and gladness will be found therein, thanksgiving and the voice of melody, and not till then. My partner joins in kind respects. Believe me to remain, as much as ever,
Your affectionate friend and sister in the Lord Jesus,
The King's Dale.