Epistles of Faith

Letter IV

William Huntington (1745-1813)

Dear Sister in Christ,

I RECEIVED yours, dated May 5, 1783, and I thank you for it You seem to express much grief, because you had heard your friend Lazarus had been sick. But, blessed be God, his sickness was not unto death; nor will poor Lazarus ever die. However, his sickness has been for the glory of God; that the Son of God, after humbling his pride, might get the more glory by his instrumentality.

You may depend upon it that your friend Lazarus will only sleep; and you know if he sleep, he shall do well. Your letter seems almost silent about the state of your soul, which I should be glad to know; but as you have filled yours with nothing but inquiries after my health, I shall fill this with nothing but informations concerning it.

I have been sick indeed; and I found fresh life in my sickness. Faith got fresh life, and made me pray weeping, with my face to the wall. Filial fear got fresh vigour, and made me set about the important work of self-examination; and as I had not balanced my books for some few days with exactness, I went about that work with as much reluctance as a bullock that is unaccustomed to the yoke, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks. Hope also got a revival, and I saw the necessity of my casting anchor within the veil. Expectation set me to looking out of the window three times a-day towards the holy Jerusalem; while zeal for truth took me to task for my indolence. Conscience reproved me for neglecting my day-hook; and patience came into the assembly of carnal reasonings, and whipt every murmurer out of the court; and sternly asked if I had not procured these things to myself? I replied yes; and said no more, but sat down pensive, while patience had her perfect work. Thus, my sister, I find that by these things I live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit.

The rod and reproof give wisdom; and my cumbrous train of crimes teaches me many a wholesome lesson. I often backslide in my heart from my dear Lord and master; but he makes my own backslidings reprove me, and drive me back to my resting place. If pride possesses my heart, even that, under the management of infinite wisdom, brings me to the Saviour's feet in humility; "A man's [own] pride shall bring him low."

If sin be indulged, it teaches me that prayers are in vain; for "If I regard iniquity, the Lord will not hear me." My reins instruct me in the mystery of my base original, and cry down free agency all the day long.

The various changes that go over my soul, teach me how to speak to the children of God; for "The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips."

The plague of my own heart prohibits my placing any confidence in the flesh. The hatred of the world stands as a sentinel, to keep me within bounds, and strictly forbids my holding communion with the wicked.

The temptations of the devil make me cry and pray for help, while my manifold imperfections teach me to preach down all perfection in the flesh.

Every murmuring thought against the cross, teaches me that I am a debtor to immutable grace; and my daily infirmities teach me that I am an unprofitable servant. Thus, my friend, every where, and in all things, I am instructed.

I find by happy experience, that all things do work together for good to them that love God, and are the called according to his purpose. God's rod brings me into humility, and fills my soul with heart-felt contrition; and thus God prepares his own residence. I will dwell with him also that is of an humble and a contrite heart, and will revive the spirit of the contrite, Isaiah, lvii. 15.

We must be subject to the Father of spirits, that we may live. His rods and reproofs give wisdom; but a child left to himself will fall. God often afflicts his dear children with a bad state of health, that they may seek him who is the health of their countenance and their God.

If we are disappointed in our earthly expectations, it is that we should make Christ our earnest expectation and our hope; and then our expectations will not be cut off.

If my soul can find no rest in temporal enjoyments, it teaches me that this is not my rest, because it is polluted; but in Jesus the weary shall for ever be at rest Look forward, O my soul! for there remains a rest for the people of God, Heb. iv. 9.

If God keep his children poor, it is to keep them from trusting in uncertain riches; and to lead them to. live by the faith of his providence; and to lay up treasure in heaven, that their hearts may be where their treasure is.

Manifold infirmities make us look and long for heavenly perfection; and when we are truly sick of this world, we shall not be loath to leave it.

A continual war with sin makes us long for a cessation of arms; but this being denied, we must be satisfied with now and then a parley. We must expect no discharge from this war; nor can we be crowned with victory, till we are conquered by death.

Death is the sentence of God, the issue of sin, and the torment of devils. But every believer may view death as a mysterious hand of Christ, by which he goes down into his garden and gathers lilies. Song vi. 2. Dear sister, adieu.

Thine to serve,

W. H. S. S.

William Huntington