Epistles of Faith
William Huntington (1745-1813)
TO THE REV. MR. HUNTINGTON, PADDINGTON.
Rev. and dear Sir,
HAVING, on many former occasions, experienced your willingness to become eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame; like a bold beggar, whose courage increases with his prosperity, I once more presume to solicit your charity; nor am I altogether without hope of success, since I find myself encouraged thereunto both by my Lord himself and his servants the prophets. "Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out."
The occasion of my troubling you at present is in consequence of reading and meditating on the parable of the merciless servant, in the, eighteenth of Matthew, from the twenty-third to the thirty-fifth verse; who; it appears, owed much, had nothing to pay with, met with compassion from the king, and was frankly forgiven the debt: but is afterwards brought to account, arraigned, called a wicked servant, and delivered to the tormentors till he should pay all that was due to his lord, he being wroth with him.
The more I have endeavoured to reconcile the difficulties, and harmonize the various parts of this parable, the greater the mysteries have appeared, and the farther I have seemed to get from what I have sometimes apprehended might be the Saviour's meaning in this passage. Nor have I been able to find any commentator, minister, or private christian, that could satisfactorily resolve me on this head; on the contrary, with much regret, I have observed that commentators in general are very profuse on passages of scripture the meaning of which is obvious to almost every reader; while such passages as have profound depths in them, and are wrapped up in spiritual mysteries, are slightly touched, or seldom, if ever, noticed by these Rabbies. With lamentation we may say of such, in Solomon's words, their much study is a weariness to our flesh, and in making many books there is no end; no end to either the reading, the study, or the purchase of them. With great grief and disappointment, I once heard a divine of the Church of England, in speaking of the gold, spices, &c. of the wise men's offerings, quote Henry, Gill, Pool, Guise, Burkitt, and others, and then leave it to his audience to fix the sense from which ever they chose; authors whose works must have cost his poor hearers twenty pounds at least before they could come to a certainty where to settle, or what to believe.
"Now, sir, as my habitation may be too small to contain twenty or thirty volumes folio, my time too short, and my pocket too shallow to purchase; the Lord being still faithful to his promise, who hath said he will send us pastors after his own heart, that shall feed his people with knowledge and understanding; I hope, as a living witness of the truth, you will, When opportunity offers, favour us, in one of your Epistles of Faith, with your thoughts on the passage; as, I think, I can truly say, this request does not proceed from a principle of mere curiosity, in order to furnish my head with empty speculations, my mouth with vain words, or to tempt the Lord's servant, by proving him with hard questions; but that I may, through your instrumentality, be more thoroughly established in those blessed truths, which have been made more precious to the soul than the merchandize of silver, the gain of gold, the hid treasures of the earth, yea, or even my necessary food. For this purpose, I pray the Lord to furnish you with light, liberty, inclination, and leisure, to comply with my request; which, I make no doubt, under his blessing, may be found effectual. to the establishment and comfort of many of his dear children; and, among the rest, none more so than,Reverend Sir,
In the name of many others,
Your very sincere Friend,
A LOVER OF HIM THAT LOVES YOU.William Huntington