To Noctua Aurita, of the Desert.
I HAVE received safe your very valuable epistle, and I thank you kindly for the same. I was somewhat surprised at you? writing a Letter to me on that subject at that time. I will give you a little account how it has been with me since I wrote to you last.
The day after I wrote you the Letter, which you know informed you that I was lying at anchor, wind-bound, an unexpected breeze sprung up. I did expect the south wind, but, alas! it was the north wind; and I have been for a fortnight tossed with no small tempest; insomuch that, at times, I have despaired even of life, and my mouth hath uttered perverse things before God. Such rebellion have I found working within, such contending with the Almighty, such unbelief prevailing, together with such deadness and barrenness, and such bitterness of spirit, that I think I never felt before. I am kept at such a distance from God, shut quite up in prayer, and not a word to plead before him, which made me cry out, "Ail these things are against me." I could get nothing under the word; and therefore I have come away from the house of God raging like a rebel; and have found true what you mentioned in your "Child of Liberty in legal Bondage," that, was it not for the strong hand of God on such souls, the ways of Zion would be unoccupied by them. I am sure this is true; for my feelings at that time were quite the reverse of David's when he said, "How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts! my soul longeth, yea, even fainteth, for the courts of the Lord. When shall I come and appear before God?" But not this, but the former, was the state of my mind when I received your Letter; and, when I read what you wrote on the subject of prayer, it caused desperation, in some measure, to work within me. Well, thought I, if this is the way that these enemies are to be overcome, what is to become of me? Pray I cannot; therefore, for aught I see, I must have their company. I had said, when I lay wind-bound, that I had rather be in the storm than lie so. And a storm it has been to me, with a witness. Having thus given you the dark side, I will proceed to inform you how the tempest was made to cease.
On Monday evening last I went to Bethel in all this storm. His excellency's oration was, "Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer." This set me a quarrelling with him. Well, thought I, there will be nothing for me this night; I shall go home worse than I came out, as I did last night. I think, had he picked the sacred records throughout, he could not have found a subject that is more contrary to my present feelings. But no sooner did he begin to open than the contents distilled as the dew. The devil fled, unbelief got a blow, carnal reason was so put to the blush as to be forced to retire; nor have they dared to shew their rebellious heads since.
On Tuesday morning, on taking up the records of Zion, my eyes were directed to the following proverb: "The ear that heareth the reproof of life shall abide among the wise." I cannot express what a sweet light accompanied these words, which gave me to see what I had received the evening before. My mind was carried above the literal sense of the words. I understood what the ear there spoken of is, even the ear of the soul; the same that Christ himself spoke of when he said, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." This ear was given me; and what the Lord caused me to hear was, the reproof of life; because it was attended with a quickening influence to my soul. And that it was the voice of God, by his word and his Spirit, I have not a single doubt; because, on those three evenings, the devil, unbelief, and carnal reason, were forced to make their retreat, whose plea before was so powerful in my heart. And this visit was attended with a sweet persuasion, yea, an assurance, that I shall be found at last among the wise virgins, when the Lord comes with the midnight cry.
I think my sensations are at present somewhat like David's. when he said, "By this I know that thou favourest me, because my enemies do not triumph over me." I believe the Lord will never let me go out of his hands until he hath made me meet for the inheritance. He will put me into a thousand fires, that my dross and tin may be purged from me.
I have no large paper, or I should have wrote you more at this time on some parts of your Letter. I was sorry to hear, by a Letter you wrote to my brother, that you was indisposed. I hope ere now you are about again, which I shall be very glad to hear as soon as convenient. Mr. H____ joins me in kind love, and thanks you for your Letter. Believe me to remain
Your very affectionate friend and sister in the Lord Jesus,
The King' s Dale.