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epiftles I always went before thee by the spirit of prophecy; and, as thou camest after, thou didit set to thy seal that the word of the Lord was true. But, moving from my old habitation, and the troubles which have attended it, have so interrupted our correspondence, that I know not where thou art. However, I will pursue the footsteps of the flock; and I have no douht but I shall overtake thee, either in the vallies, or in the heights of Israel.
To go back to the days of thy dispersion, when thou wast stumbling upon the dark mountains, must be altogether vain. The Shepherd's promise to thee in that state hath been sulfilled : “ I will seek my sheep, and search them out; and I will gather them out of all places whither they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark days.” From these dismal and dark regions he hath put thee forth, and gone before thee, and caused thee to pass under the rod, and to hear his voice; and he hath led thee into the bond of the covenant, that thou mightest be bound up in the bundle of life with the chief Shepherd. This is the summit of all happiness, the height of Zion's dignity, the high mountain and the eminent on which so many have said, “ I shall never be moved; thou, Lord, of thy goodness hast made my hill so strong." Upon this eminence he carries the lambs in his bosom, as well as leads gently those that
are with young. The former feel the warmth of his heart, the latter the strength of his arm. But it is vexatious, grievous, yea, and dangerous, coming down from this mount; because the horrible pit and the miry clay are so near to the foot of it, one of old tumbled into it: “ I stick fast; I am come into the deep waters, so that the floods overflow me.” This stiffened his joints, and relaxed his nerves, and made him stagger and waddle in his walk. “ I am ready to halt, and my sorrows are continually before me.” This being put out of the bosom, and driven from the suckling-house, and turned adrift to go behind, and only now and then allowed to hear the Shepherd's voice, and being bid to follow him instead of riding in the bosom, appears to be hard treatment. However, he always heals them that halt, binds up that which is broken, and feeds that which is faint: “ The Lord is my shepherd, therefore I Shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters; he restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.” Thus to lie down and find rest and satisfaction, encompassed and supported by the lively oracles, or life-giving words of promise, and to be led by the streams which flow from the river of divine pleasure, makes us fat and flourishing. But, alas! these vanish again, and we lose sight of these waters: “ I am a stranger with thee; hide not thy
commandment from me. O, when wilt thou come and comfort me !" Here the old man, and the sheep's worst enemy, entangle him; he is hung up: “ Miñe eyes are ever toward the Lord; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; O bring thou me out of my distresses !" Out he comes again: “ I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities, and hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy. Thou hast set my feet in a large room." But he foon wanders out of this into the desert, and gets upon the barren mountains of Sinai, and here gets both blinded and impoverished: “ I have gone astray like a loft sheep; seek thy servant, for I do not forget thy commandments.” What part of this path of tribulation my sister is now on, or which of these footsteps of the flock suits her present steps, I know not; but, when I saw her last, she was shut up, and could not come forth; and, when I informed her of a future enlargement, her answer agreed , with that of her sister of old, “ Nay, thou man of God, do not lie to thine handmaid ;" for I shall never be comfortable any more in this world. Has experience, from that time to this, proved that saying to be true? or did the Lord confirm the word of his servant, and perform the counsel of his messenger?
Once more: Haft thou found, in the course of
thy thy pilgrimage, any thing to confirm that common saying of many, namely, that those who, by the Spirit, are brought once into liberty, are never exercised with, nor entangled in, legal bondage again? or whether this bondage be not one ingredient in the cup of Zion's forrow, which all must drink of, more or less, who follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth? A solution of these matters will lay me under an obligation, which shall be acknowledged with that thankfulness which I hope will ever abound in
Your affectionate friend and brother,
From the Desert.
T. NOCTUA AURITA, in the Desert.
I received your kind letter, and am obliged to you for your kind inquiry after iny 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 loft sheep; seek thy servant:" for I can say also, with him, that I do not forget God's commandments. Since I wrote to you laft, 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 neep, but my heart waketh.” In a moment I was given to fce that I was in the