Epistles of Faith
William Huntington (1745-1813)
TO R. M.
I RECEIVED my son's rapturous letter. It seems to be dated from the mount of transfiguration; and, I suppose, he says in his heart, "It is good to be here." So it is, my son: and I would have thee continue there as long as thou canst make try standing good; and say, in these thy days of prosperity, "I shall never be moved; thou, Lord, of try goodness, hast made my hill so strong."
The ancient saying is applicable to this day, "In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen," Gen. xxii. 14. Call it, therefore, Jehovah-Jireh; for thou wilt now see, and taste too, the sweet provision that God has made for his own elect. Thou mayest look down, and take a survey of heathen Kings, Princes, Dukes, Earls, and all other poor crawling worms, that are beneath tree; while every thing but Christ seems to be less than nothing, and lighter than vanity. The prophet Isaiah got so high, that he not only saw the King in his beauty, and the land that is very far off, but he says the inhabitants of the earth are as grasshoppers; the earth itself as the drop of a bucket, or as the small dust of a balance. This is heavenly climbing, indeed! But take care, my son, how you come down: for Moses broke both the tables at the foot of the mount; and Peter, James, and John, after they descended, were foiled with a devil that could not be moved but by prayer and fasting.
These banquets are sweet foretastes, earnests, and pledge, of the glory that shall be revealed in us; the droppings of the sanctuary, that lead us to the enjoyment of the true tabernacle; the streams, which lead to the river of pleasure, and the fountain of life. But I must inform thee, that from the mount some part of thy way will be rough and crooked, until thou come into the valley of Shaveh, which is the King's dale; when and where bread and wine will be much needed, Gen. xiv. 17, 18.
The blessed Redeemer hath promised to make his servants fishers of men, and, bless him! he fulfils his promise; and I thank him for every fish that is taken, whether by me or by others; and hope to continue baiting my hooks, and casting my nets, and leaving the event to him who hath promised success, as long as I live. Some nibble for a while, till they feel the hook, and then they are off; others are hooked, and held fast. Some play with the line; but you have run away with the bait. Sometimes the net catches two or three at a time, fit for market; and sometimes I catch a shark, a porpus, or a mermaid; which are ready to devour the poor fisherman himself; until they can break through the net, and make off But, when the Lord of the fishery stands on the earth and sea, and swears that suffering times shall be no longer, Rev. x. 5, 6, the net which was cast into the sea, and which gathered of every kind, shall be full; the angels will draw it to the shore, and sit down, and gather the good into vessels, but hast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth, Matt. xiii. 47-50. From which dreadful end the Lord hath, in mercy, delivered us.
I see no reason why the devil should be the only claimer of the name Legion, for we are many, as well as be: "And they that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars for ever and ever." This text has been a cordial to me in the midst of the reproach and opposition that I have met with in the course of my ministry. The approbation of God, the witness of his Spirit, and the impression of his seal, is all that can be expected from heaven in the behalf of an ambassador sent by him. The approbation and testimony of hypocrites and worldlings is both a curse and a scandal to a man of God: "Wo unto you, when all men speak well of you."
I am not allowed to approach many pulpits; therefore I am determined to publish from the press what God is pleased to impress on my soul, that I may cast my hook where I am not allowed to speak for myself; and it hath so well succeeded hitherto, that I do not know which hath been the most useful, the words of my mouth, or the scribble of my pen. However, I am for fish, or nothing; for a mere outward reformation brings nothing home: a man must be converted, otherwise he cannot enter into the kingdom of God; therefore I hope to endure what falls to my lot for the elect's sake, not for the world, that they may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory, 2 Tim. ii. 10.
Take no heed to all the words that are spoken, my son; but fear thou God, and his king; and meddle not with them that are given to change. When men become surfeited with Christ and his gospel, it is manifest that they never attained to any thing of him but his name; and, when they depart from their profession of that, the world and sin soon find them out, and hold them fast and, if grace prevent not, they will eventually drown them in destruction and perdition. Christ Jesus and good works always go together. It is the branch that abides in the vine which bringeth forth much fruit; and shall be purged, that it may bring forth more. The promise and righteousness of God stand engaged to make the elect fruitful: " They shall bring forth fruit in old age, to shew that the Lord is righteous." In Christ is our fruit found; and they that will have none of him shall have barrenness enough.
Those who take forth the vile from the precious are to be as God's mouth. The gospel is to be preached in all the world, for a witness against some, and to convey a witness to others: it is a savour of death unto death, and of life unto life. While souls are converted, and hypocrites discovered, the work of God goes on; and such ministers are a sweet savour unto God, in them that perish, and in them that are saved.
I wish none to love me but those who love Christ; nor do I wish any minister or ministers to speak well of me, but those that speak as the oracles of God. As Christ was, so are we in this world: if they love him, they will not hate us; and if they keep his sayings, they will not reject ours. If they have got the same experience with us, they must defend our testimony, or speak against their own. Those who are made free by the truth will be valiant for it; and those who are blessed with the faith of God's elect will earnestly contend for it, as it was delivered unto the saints.
Thy safest place is at the Saviour's feet; thy happiness and fruitfulness depend on a close union with him, and walking in him. That thou mayest long enjoy the light of his countenance; walk in the faith and love of him; watch his hand, and cleave to his heart is the prayer and desire of,Dear Son,
Your joyful Father,
And willing Servant,
In Christ Jesus,Paddington, Jan. 3, 1790. W. H.