(Written about the same time, in a more serious vein.)
What I wrote before about our stay in Pontus was in joke, not in earnest; what I write now is very much in earnest. O that one would place me as in the month of those former days, 4733 in which I luxuriated with you in hard living; since voluntary pain is more valuable than involuntary delight. O that one would give me back those psalmodies p. 448 and vigils and those sojournings with God in prayer, and that immaterial, so to speak, and unbodied life. O for the intimacy and one-souledness of the brethren who were by you divinized and exalted: O for the contest and incitement of virtue which we secured by written Rules and Canons; O for the loving labour in the Divine Oracles, and the light we found in them by the guidance of the Holy Ghost. Or, if I may speak of lesser and slighter matters, O for the daily courses and experiences; O for the gatherings of wood, and the cutting of stone; O for the golden plane-tree, more precious than that of Xerxes, under which sat, not a King enfeebled by luxury, but a Monk worn out by hard life, which I planted and Apollos (I mean your honourable self) watered; 4734 but God gave the increase to our honour, that a memorial might remain among you of my diligence, as in the Ark we read and believe, did Aarons rod that budded. 4735 To long for all this is very easy, but it is not easy to attain it. But do you come to me, and conspire with me in virtue, and co-operate with me, and aid me by your prayers to keep the profit which we used to get together, that I may not perish by little and little, like a shadow as the day draws to its close. I would rather breathe you than the air, and only live while I am with you, either actually in your presence, or virtually by your likeness in your absence.
Job xxix. 2.448:4734
1 Cor. iii. 6.448:4735
Num. 17:8, 10.