Epistles of Faith

Letter XXI

William Huntington (1745-1813)

Winchester Row, Feb. 2, 17,913.

Reverend and dear Sir,

YOURS I received, and have well weighed your reasons; and in the balance of the sanctuary they are lighter than vanity. Excuse my accustomed freedom; as so many passages of scripture occurred in the reading of yours, to overthrow the whole of your arguments; and indeed every wandering and unhallowed thought, every unguarded look, every carnal desire, every unworthy thought of God, every cold frame, together with all my secret slips, and backwardness to good, contradict all that you say. A carnal man, averse to all good; alienated from God, dead in sin, and blind to all his interest in another world, to have a power in himself to come to Christ! an object far out of his sight, and to whom he can never stretch a thought worthy of him; a man possessed by the strong man armed, under the government of Satan; led captive by him at his will, in the strong hold of obduracy; bound in the chain of his crimes; a servant to sin, and a lover of the service; under the curse of God, and at enmity with him! I doubt, sir, this doctrine of yours is attended with another equally as bad, or worse than this; for if you preach up that a man has a power in himself to come to Christ, you must represent Christ in a false light; for the language of every natural man is, "Depart from me, for I desire not the knowledge of thy ways." For if you preach up the sovereignty of Christ, his discriminating love, and his redemption for only particular persons, you will find your own will, and the will of all your hearers reluctant enough, until inclined by grace.

All must allow that coming to Christ at first in a proper manner, is the most difficult part of the work with those who are convinced, by the Spirit, of unbelief. If the sinner has a power to come to Christ, then there is no occasion for God to make him willing in the day of his power, Psalm cx. 3; no occasion for God to enlighten them that sit in darkness; nor to guide their feet into the way of peace, Luke i. 79; nor can there be any occasion for drawing them to Christ; nor can the Saviour's words be established as true by your doctrine, when he says, "No man can come to me, except the Father draw him;" no occasion for Christ to destroy the works of the devil; no occasion for him to open the prison doors to them that are bound; no occasion for the Holy Ghost to make the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, the blind to see, and the dumb to speak. No occasion for the dead to hear the voice of the Son of God, in order to live; no occasion for the shepherd to seek and find the sheep; no occasion for laying it on his shoulders, and bringing it to the fold. The Lord's talking of bringing the blind by a way that they know not, and of leading them in paths that they have not known; and upholding them with the right hand of his righteousness, and keeping them by his mighty power through faith to salvation, is all useless according to your doctrine. And all the prayers of the former saints which are left upon record can be no useful precedents for you; such as, "Turn thou me, and I shall be turned;" "Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe;" "Draw me, and we will run after thee." The man that by nature has a power to come savingly to Jesus Christ must enlighten his own understanding, quicken his own soul, cast Satan out of his own heart, destroy the power of sin, turn the whole current of his own affections, remove the evil bias of his stubborn will, and work faith in his own heart. And he that can can do this, has created himself anew, and is in one sense, a creator; nor should I have any objection to fall down and worship such a being; for I know he must be the resurrection and the life that can create a creature anew, and therefore a proper object of worship.

If your modesty cannot brook deification, then lay the doctrine by. But I would wish to know whether this power in sinners, of coming to Christ, be natural or spiritual; if natural, you are indebted to the God of nature for it; and if spiritual, God is the origin of that. If you say, it is spiritual, I ask, Is it inherent, or derived? Inherent, I think, it cannot be; because the sinner is carnal, sold under sin. If it be derived from Christ, then this action of coming to Christ, proceeds from a motion of the new man, and is all of grace. But if the power be natural, it is an act of the old man of sin, and will pass for nothing good with God, because he has commanded us to put off the old man with his deeds.

You are welcome, sir, to such principles; but it is clear that by holding these, yourself and followers are the only losers; for the drawing of God and making willing; his revealed and promised arm in leading; the Saviour's shoulder in carrying, is made of none effect by your traditions. I wish, sir, you would only shut yourself up in your closet for one hour, and meditate upon the glory of God; and when you have brought his glorious perfections together in your thoughts, and your mind engaged with him, then view him as reconciled in Christ Jesus, and kneel down and say the Lord's prayer to him, while your mind is stayed; and keep your thoughts fixed on the object of prayer all the time you are repeating it; but if your thoughts are scattered after an hundred different things, then try again and again: and if after all your toil, you find you cannot command nor fix a single thought upon God, then acknowledge the truth of God, and say, "Every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart is only evil, and that continually" The above seems to be an easy task; but there is not a freewiller in all the world that can perform it; nor do I believe that there is a spiritual man that can, who has got that prayer by rote. Sensible facts are stubborn things; the devil himself cannot move them; and if, after all your supposed power and ability, you cannot govern one single thought, never say anything more about free-will and human power. You will excuse my boldness in setting you such a task, because it is the best method of discovering temptations; for when the devil puffs us up with a vain conceit of our own power, the best way is to try and exert that power; and though pride may prompt us to deny the testimony of God's word with respect to human weakness, yet when all our efforts prove to be in vain, we are conscientiously convinced, if we are too proud to acknowledge it; thus God makes conscience bear witness to his revealed truth, though be leaves the obstinate will of man to rebel against both word and conscience. Free grace has made my heart and tongue honest enough to own that I am nothing, and. that I can do nothing, and yet am blessed with a part and lot in him that has done all for me, and promised to do all in me.

With this blessed hope and honest confession I take my leave of my unknown correspondent, and conclude with gospel anxiety for the destruction of all errors, and for the saving knowledge of gospe1 truth.

W. H.

William Huntington