Epistles of Faith

Letter XIX

William Huntington (1745-1813)

Winchester Row,

August 12, 1785.

Dear Madam,

I RECEIVED yours of the first instant, and have reason to conclude that God has heard my prayer in your behalf. The throne of grace, or mercy-seat, is the large room that electing and redeeming love has opened as a common receptacle, or meeting-place for all believing, hoping, praying, and praising souls to meet at; here all prevalent petitions and grievances are cast in; and it is from hence that all favours are dispensed, and all grievances redressed. It is here that every chosen vessel's name appears; here every believer's case is considered; and from hence are all the angels sent with their charges and messages unto them that are, or ever shall be heirs of salvation.

From hence comes the blessed Spirit of God, like a dove of swiftest wing, with the olive leaf of gospel peace, emblematical of a final closure of the floodgates of an ireful deluge by covenant; and of an eternal peace proclaimed through the sweet savour of In immortal and ever-available sacrifice. From hence comes, by the Holy Ghost, the everlasting love of God to be shed abroad in the troubled and disquieted heart of the coming sinner. This love is the immutable and eternal bond of union, which goes from the Father, through the Son, to us; and runs through every circumcised heart in all the world; and through every human spirit Now made perfect in heaven; and holds all the lively, or living It0nes of mercy's fabric fast together, as united to Christ, the chief corner-stone; and through him to God the Father, as tile decretive and glorious fabricator of the whole building. God laid the foundation; and it was he that made our Lord the headstone of the corner; surely this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes. All glory to the first founder, and equal glory to the foundation! Amen and Amen, says the most rugged stone in all the building.

This, Madam, is the grand tie of the building, and loving faith in the great atonement is the immortal cement that compacts the whole fabric together; for the want of this many fall off; the word does not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that hear it.

The redeemed church, thus united to the corner-stone by eternal love, and cemented together by faith in the great atonement, is called a building fitly framed; and, under the divine operations of the Holy Ghost, it grows up into an holy temple in the Lord, for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Formerly God dwelt in a tent, and in a tabernacle, wheresoever the children of Israel travelled, 2 Sam. vii. 6, 7; and after that at Shiloh, until the profanity of the priests caused him to forsake it, and give his strength, which was prefigured by the ark, into captivity, and his glory into the enemy's hand, Psalm lxxviii. 61. After this he appeared as a wayfaring man, or visitor, and only turned aside and lodged with them for a night, Jer. xiv. 8; in a judge or in a prophet; until the days of David, who found out a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. But Solomon built him a house; and at his pious and fervent invitation he put his name there, and manifested his glorious presence in it, until idolatry provoked him to leave it to the rage of them, whose idolatrous iniquity brought from Babylon, was by the Israelitish captives carried back again to the land of Shinar, from whence it came, and established there on its own base, Zech. v. 6-11. At their return God took up his residence among them, until they turned his house of prayer into a den of thieves; and a house of merchandize; and then he threatened to leave them; and this he faithfully accomplished after the abominable idols and heathenish idolaters profaned his temple, and provoked him to jealousy; which caused him to go up from between the cherubims, and for a long time to stand only on the threshold. But when the death of his dishonoured, rejected, and murdered son had rent the veil, he went out through the same rent, and broke up housekeeping for good and all; your house of prayer and royal house is left unto you desolate. Since that tune God dwells not in temples made with hands, as saith the prophet; his eye, heart, and presence can never be confined either to a cathedral, abbey, church, chapel, or meeting-house, any longer than while the truth is preached in it, and God's spiritual worshippers worship him in truth. God now dwells in temples of his own building; he looks to him that trembles at his word, and dwells with them that are of a broken heart; such souls are to be his rest for ever, here will he dwell, for he has desired it.

This, Madam, is the building of mercy; and God has said, that mercy shall be built up for ever; not a stone or stake of it can ever be removed or taken down; the foundations and all the materials were chosen by the great founder; and our answer to every foreign ambassador is this, "The Lord has founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it." In this mysterious superstructure judgment was laid to the line of the builder, and the Saviour's obedience was perpendicular with it. Righteousness was laid to the plummet, and the Saviour's death was answerable to that; not one of the sevenfold eyes of justice could find a single fault either in the founder or the foundation, Zech. iii. 9. Surely our adversaries may walk about Zion, if they cannot walk in her; and count her towers, and mark all her bulwarks; and tell to all generations that this God is our God for ever and ever, and will be our guide even unto death.

Thus, Madam, the elect are the temples of the living God; and God is a little sanctuary to them in all places where they are scattered in the cloudy and in dark days. Oh, what a mystery! for mortals to be an habitation of God through the Spirit. And our hope is, that the chief foundation and corner-stone will one day be revealed from heaven, in all the glory of the Father, and in all his own glory, and in the glory of the holy angels, to bring forth the coping or top-stone of the whole building; and so shine to all eternity through every living stone of the mystic city; The glory of God shall en1ialiten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof Rev. xxi. 23.

Surely, when this head-stone shall be brought forth, it must be with the same shouting that has long prevailed with the elect in this world, namely, not by the might of free-will, nor by human power, but by God's Spirit, which will ever teach us to cry out, Grace, grace unto it.

When this happy period shall arrive, all daubers with untempered mortar shall have their walls tried to purpose; and all that have begun to build, without sitting down first and counting the cost, shall be exposed to the same contempt as the ancient Babel-builders were: the saints that ascend the throne, as saved by grace, shall begin to mock, saying, "This man began to build. but had not wherewith to finish." Thus the house built on the sand shall fall, and its ruin shall be great. The great city or mystic Babylon, and all her citizens, as well as her builders and adherents, shall be discovered to the saints in the light of perfect knowledge, as a work ridiculous; and the whole fabric shall appear a confused ruin. But, blessed be God, our hope centres not in the law, as a dead hope in a killing letter; nor does it centre in the Saviour's tomb or sepulchre, that it should be lost in a dead man; but God has begotten us again to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Christ from the dead; and as the Saviour is exalted, hope follows him up to the inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that never fades away; reserved in heaven for all who are kept by the power of God, through faith, to salvation. Surely God has afforded a most blessed foundation, and a most blessed object for gospel hope; and it is to be as an anchor of the soul both sure and steadfast; and which enters into that God who dwells within the vail of Christ's manhood; that it may afford a strong consolation to all who have fled for refuge, to lay hold upon the hope set before them.

This pregnant hope, so big with the holy expectation of eternal glory, shall never leave the hoping soul until it has done its last office, which is, to hold the soul up in the floods of death. "The wicked is driven away in his wickedness, but the righteous hath hope in his death." O blessed anchor I made fast to the cable of immutable love, and is cast into the same anchorage from whence everlasting love came, as the only hold of gospel hope, through the rent-veil of Christ crucified. This shall hold the vessel of mercy in the strongest gales and roughest sea; while thousands shall make shipwreck of the doctrines and of the object of faith. But the real grace of spiritual faith will keep every chosen vessel sound in the doctrines, and sound in the object of faith. With this comfortable hope I take my leave of you; and hove ever to subscribe myself,

Dear Madam,

Your willing and devoted Servant in the

gospel of Jesus Christ,

W. H.

William Huntington