Epistles of Faith
William Huntington (1745-1813)
TO MRS. J. C.
THE Almighty is a sovereign, and will do as he pleases with his own. He will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and he will have compassion upon whom he will have compassion. His grace is free, and freely bestowed; and all who have been, or ever will be saved, are saved by it: and that not of themselves; salvation is the gift of God. If he sets his love upon man, opens the door of faith, and calls him by his grace, his gifts and callings are without repentance. He calls, justifies, and glorifies, without respect to any worth or good disposition, as procuring causes, in us; the whole is of sovereign bounty, in Christ Jesus.
"Despise not the day of small things." Saints grow from babes to children, from children to young men, and from young men to fathers. There is a growth in grace as well as in nature. The Lord will, in due time, reveal himself to thee in a clearer manner, resolve thy doubts, enlighten thy mind, and make thy way plain, and thy interest clear. He hath promised that all his children shall be taught of him; and that they shall all know him, from the least even to the greatest of them. Remember the awful state thou roast in; and be thankful to him that hath made the difference; and thou wilt find him to be the best of fathers, and the Saviour the best of friends. To the Almighty the weakest are as precious as the strongest: the Saviour carries such in his bosom; for it is nut our heavenly Father's will that one of his little ones should perish. Commit every step of thy way to the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established. "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy steps;" and let thy requests be made known unto him. Sighing, groaning, hungering and thirsting, desiring and holy longing, are all accounted prayer in the word of God, and will most surely prevail when Christ is the object longed for rest in no attainment, but seek him perpetually; and press forward to attain every mark that has the promise annexed to it, that secures the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus; such as, faith that worketh by love, the pardon of sin, the witness of the Spirit, the testimony of a good conscience, love to God, a good hope through grace, and poverty of spirit. These are the marks which secure the prize; especially the last, namely, poverty of spirit: "Blessed are the poor in spirit," that is the mark, "for theirs is the kingdom of heaven;" that is the prize. However, all the above marks lie in the promise, and the promise contains the prize. It is the fault of too many, to rest in an empty profession, and to be satisfied with hearing the word without hearing to profit. By perpetually hearing of every preacher, and helping to support various places, many expect to be saved, though still settled on their old bottom; and only make use of the means of grace to manufacture dead works; and so clothe nth a covering that is not of God's Spirit, and add sin to sin. flow many will cry out in that great day, when once the master is risen up, and hath shut the door, saying, Lord, Lord! open to us! And he shall answer and say unto them, I know you not whence ye are. Then shall they begin to say, We have eaten and drank in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence you are; Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity! Luke xiii. 25-27. Hearing the gospel, and partaking of the Lord's supper, was all they trusted in, We have eaten in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets: and, as they had trusted in hearing, instead of the object preached; and in eating the Lord's supper, instead of spiritually eating his flesh and drinking his blood by faith; and used the means of grace to work out a legal covering, taking his new cloth to patch their old garment; the rent is made worse, Matt. ix. 16. And they are justly styled workers of iniquity, being nothing but wolves in sheep's clothing. But I am persuaded better things of thee; and therefore, as my beloved daughter, I warn thee, that thou mayest not come short of tile rest that remains to the people of God. Seek to tile Lord to remove every burden, and thou wilt find rest to thy soul; and, while one doubt, scruple, or gainsaying voice, remains in the court of conscience, besiege thou the throne of grace; get God, and scripture, and conscience, and the Spirit's testimony, on thy side; and thou wilt then make straight paths for thy feet. Importunity in prayer takes the kingdom by force; and, as it suffereth violence, give thy soul no rest till God sends forth his righteousness as the light, and his salvation as a lamp that burneth, Isa. lxii. 1; and then thou wilt not be shut out of the wedding-chamber for want of oil; for salvation by grace is a lamp that never goes out.
Wonder not at the adversary's buffeting thee at the Lord's table. If thou wast one of his presumptuous, hypocritical fancily, he would not serve thee so: it is his business to embolden the wolf, and worry the lamb. He is not divided against himself; he has a breastplate for the infidel, Rev. ix. 9; and a dart for the believer, Ephes. vi. 16. But he can do no more than he is suffered to do; and, depend upon it, he will never do thee any intentional good: the latter is neither in his nature nor in his power. The hypocrite, who is under him, can bring no more to the house of God than his lips, his sin, his carcase, and his clothes. He cannot bring his heart, nor his affections This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me: but in vain they worship me, Matt. xv. 8. But the saint can send his heart, spirit, and affections, to the house of God, when the carcase and the clothes are both at home: "For I verily as absent in body," says Paul, "but present in spirit." And again, "For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you iii the spirit, joying, and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ." The saint hath got the wings of a dove, Psal. xviii. 13; while the pinions of the hypocrite are clogged with an ephah of wickedness, and a talent of lead, Zech. v. 6, 7.
travail on, my daughter, and be in pain to bring forth; endure the struggles of flesh and spirit, like a true Shunamite; and be diligent in the means of grace, and fervent in prayer; and thou wilt not tarry long, like Ephraim, in the place of the breaking forth of children. The last principle shall reign; for that is the first and eldest in existence, though corruption he the first with respect to communication: "The elder shall serve the younger." Grace took its rise in eternity, but sin in time, and grace shall have the pre-eminence. We had life in the second Adam before we died in the first, and were complete in the Lord from heaven before we existed in tile flesh. These things are riddles to those who are blind, and cannot see afar off; but, as God hath revealed them, they belong to us. A swarm of corruptions, and a legion of devils, round about an awakened sinner, is like the Syrian army that compassed the city of Dothan; a formidable host of cavalry and infantry against a single man: but the prophet said,
Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them," 2 Kings, vi. 15, 16. The jawbone of an ass, in the hand of faith, has left a thousand Philistines dead on the field; and, were there ten times as many devils, two saints, in the hand of a Saviour, would put ten thousand to flight.
The best midwife in spiritual labour, is Love: that casts out all fear, and brings the new-born soul into liberty; and without satisfactory enjoyment of this, rest not contented. The Lord hath promised it, and do thou sue it out. Thy Saviour bids thee ask, that thy joy may be full; and that text tells thee when to leave off, namely, when thy heart can contain no more. Thou art welcome to write to me as often as thou wilt: but, where yon send one epistle to me, send fifty to the Lord; and, if he does not send a verbal answer, he will make me send a written one in his name. Excuse haste: the oil runs, but every page is full. Dear friend, the Lord be with thee, is the prayer and desire of,Yours to command,
In Christ Jesus,
Winchester Row, Paddington.W. H.