To Philomela, in the King's Dale
THINE epistle afforded me much joy. "Blessed are they that endure temptations, for when they are tried they shall receive the crown of life," which he hath promised to them that love him. Thou didst say, O thou of little faith! "I shall not see him;" yet judgment was before him, and he hath brought thee forth to the light, and thou hast beheld his righteousness. How sweet and endearing are his visits after his long absence! How welcome are his returns after our souls have sat solitary, as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, as a wife of youth refused and deserted! But he soon makes us forget the shame of our youth, and the reproach of our widowhood; and the adversary that saluteth us with a "Where is now thy God?" sees it and vanishes, inflamed with rage. But he only departs for a season. Nevertheless, the armour of God is sufficient to repel the force of all his artillery. God hath planted his fear in our hearts that we may not depart from him. He hath renewed, enlightened, instructed, and influenced our consciences by his Spirit, that he may check and reproach us for all that is wrong, and approve of all that is right; and we must exercise ourselves day and night not to offend him. We are favoured with the witness, seal, and first-fruits of the Spirit, and are commanded not to vex or grieve him. lest he suspend his freedom, his consolations, and his much-needed assistance, in prayer. The Redeemer has left us also his last legacy, I mean peace: and we have the promise of the enjoyment of it, unless we make to ourselves crooked paths. We have the promise of his presence, and of the light of his countenance likewise, unless our sins hide his face from us, or cause him to return to his place, till we acknowledge our offences, and seek him early. We have also that faith that is of the operation of the Spirit of God; and nothing can unsettle, weaken, damp, or deaden the vigorous actings of faith like our misconduct. Besides these things, we have the helmet of hope, the shield of faith, the breastplate of righteousness, the sword of the Spirit, and all sorts of prayer; and these things are more mighty bulwarks against Satan than all the fears of death and wrath, yea, than all the horrors, terrors, threatenings, and curses, of a broken law, which the disciples of Moses pride themselves so much upon. Let my dear sister pay due attention to these things which accompany salvation, and she shall have rejoicing in herself alone, and not in another, and shall praise her God with joyful lips. Moreover, as God hath restored he, again to the joys of his salvation, let me admonish her not to act the part of a hawking pedlar, lest they get weary of her; but let her entertain her beloved with praises and thanksgivings, as he entertains her with the discoveries of his love. My kind love to the good man of the house, and tell him I have remembrance of him in my poor prayers. Excuse haste, as I am a servant to many. Dear sister, adieu.
Ever thine in the brotherly covenant,