Epistles of Faith

Letter XII

William Huntington (1745-1813)

Winchester Row.

Dear Sir,

Yours came to hand, which I have carefully perused; and I own that the fresh reports which you have heard of this prophet go current with us in London, for I have often heard of the same. And as you say in yours, "That he is able, as soon as a person comes into the room, to tell whether he be a saint, a public minister of the gospel, or a wicked man: and that he has begun to exclaim violently against some of his attendants, and to tell them heavy tidings; who it seems are reported to be people of an indifferent character."

The other report also I have heard, namely, about his telling a certain man that he would receive an accident from a beast on such a day, if he did not take care; which, as was reported, came to pass.

But all this is no more than the devil has done before; this is no new feat of Satan; I can find in the word of God that these things have been performed of old. Satan has acknowledged a gospel minister, and reproved a sinner too, before now. The devil that said, "These men are the servants of the Most High God, which shew unto us the way of salvation," was partly true, and partly false. That they were the servants of the Most High God, was true; but that they skewed to devils the way of salvation, was false; for God's voice is to the sons of men. If Satan could point out, and cry up a servant of God then, why not now? unless you imagine that the serpent has lost his wisdom by his long practice. Satan knew and acknowledged the Lord Jesus publicly, when thousands of the Jews knew him not. "We know thee what thou art, the Holy One of God." The devils knew that he wag Christ; but he rebuked them, and suffered them not to speak. As to the madman's exclaiming against some sinners that have visited him, it is no proof of his being a prophet of the Lord. The devil can rebuke sin, torment the sinner for it, and even cry up good works into the bargain.

Christ said that Judas was a devil; and that same devil rebuked Mary for wasting her ointment; and contended for three hundred pence to relieve the poor; and was sharply rebuked for his liberality. Satan sent seven of his own dear children out of a certain house at Corinth, both wounded and naked, for mimicking the power of the Holy Ghost in Paul; though it was Satan ,at the same time that set them at it. This brings to my mind gnat a precious poet has left upon record: speaking of the cunning of Satan, be says,

Self-denial he can use,
And that from selfish, devilish views;
His nature and his name disown,
And say that devil or hell there's none.

Every deist in Great Britain is a living witness of the above assertion.

That which seems to puzzle you most is, his prediction coming to pass on the man that received a hurt from the beast, and on the same day that it was foretold, as report goes. I have weighed' all the passages that you refer me to, in Deut. xviii. 18th and 19th verses. I will raise them up a prophet, &c. and that whosoever will not obey him, shall be cut off, &c. And the 22d verse of the same chapter; "When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing that the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him." Which words you say are a scriptural criterion, that if their predictions come to pass, they are the Lord's prophets, &c. Before you can rely upon this, you must prove that they are the Lord's prophets, and that their judgments, lives, actions, and predictions, are agreeable to God's word. But if you suppose that a man, who is filled with inconsistencies, swallowed up in delusions, employed in childish vanities, and bereft of common sense, to be a prophet of the Most High, you make God the author of confusion, instead of peace.

What will the heathen world say, if it be allowed that the prophets of God are nothing but idiots and lunatics? The man that believes this, is under an awful delusion of the devil, let him be who be will, and God will let him know it. Even the very heathens have used charms to conjure the devil out of people that were mad; and what would such heathens say, if they were to see a tribe of professors, who pretend to be the happy partakers of the Holy Ghost, go to a madman to know the mind and will of God? Oh utter it not in Gath, for it is a greater delusion than the Cock Lane ghost; tell it not in Askelon, for it is more absurd than leaping into a quart bottle!

As for his prediction of the man's accident coming to pass, as is reported, it may be true; the devil has done that before now. All Haman's friends, and Zeresh his wife, advised him to hang Mordecai, and kill all the Jews in Babylon. And as their counsel was to destroy the whole church of God, do you not think the devil was in them? Thus Satan counselled and prompted Haman on, till his pride had ripened him for ruin; but soon after this Satan turned all his counsel and predictions against him, to sink him as fast as possible; for it came to pass, after Haman bad arrayed Mordecai, that he hastened, in the bitterness of his soul, to his friends, and to Zeresh his wife, as it is written. "But Haman hastened to his house mourning, and having his head covered. And Haman told Zeresh his wife, and all his friends, every thing that had befallen him. Then said his wise men and Zeresh his wife unto him, if Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before whom thou hast begun to fall, thou shalt not prevail against him, but thou shalt surely fall before him." And before the prophecy was ended, the accomplishment began. "And while they were yet talking with him, came the king's chamberlains, and hastened to bring Haman unto the banquet that Esther had prepared." That was, to receive his sentence from the king. This prediction came to pass; and yet, none will allow that Haman's wise men or his wife, were inspired by the Holy Ghost. But the devil knew very well that he could not destroy the church of God, nor reverse his firm decree, which was mentioned by Moses, namely, that the name of Amalek should. be blotted out from under heaven; which was accomplished at the destruction of Haman and his ten sons, Deut. xxv. 19.

If thou hast any thing more to object, let it be sent and I will answer it if I can; but I never will believe that divine inspiration is the cause of lunacy; or that the blessed Spirit of God bears his sweet anvil-comforting testimony in the heart of a madman. If I was to allow this, I should lie against my right, belie my conscience, and deny all the sweet happiness that I have ever felt. I declare publicly, that I was almost mad before the Lord delivered my soul; but when deliverance came by the Holy Ghost, I was as much in my senses as yon are now, and have remained so, for aught I know, to this day. I do not deny but God may leave a man in the hands of Satan till he is mad, and then deliver him by his Spirit, as he did the man among the tombs; but when he was delivered by the Saviour, he sat at Christ's feet in his right mind.

I know Festus told Paul that too much learning had made him mad; but we do not believe what he said; for the Holy Ghost tells us that Paul spake forth the words of truth and soberness. However, I hope God will ever keep both thee and me from all madness, whether it be from heaven or from hell; for wherever madness appears, it is an awful judgment from God; but I defy the whole world to prove that madness is any part of salvation by grace. Fare thee well; the best of blessings attend thee, while I remain.

Inviolably thine, in the gospel of Christ,

W. H.

William Huntington