Epistles of Faith
William Huntington (1745-1813)
TO MRS. J. C.
Dear Daughter in the Faith,
"THE Lord recompense thy work of faith; I and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust!" How clear, at times, doth the blessed word of God shine! and how punctually is every part thereof fulfilled! heaven and earth shall pass away, but not one jot or tittle of the scriptures of truth shall ever pass away. "All that the Father hath given me," saith the Saviour, "shall come to me; and he that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." Well may the prophet say, he shall gather his sheep out of all places whither they have been scattered in the cloudy, and in the dark days, Ezek. xxxiv. 12. You are a living witness of this truth, for the kingdom of the beast is full of darkness, Rev. xvi. 10; and popery is called the mystery of iniquity, 2 Thess. ii. 7; and their doctrines the depths of Satan, Rev. ii. 24. Yet there have been, still are, and will be, some of God's elect found, even in the bosom of that mother of harlots, Rev. xvii. 5; which the Lord hath, still does, and will call out, before that beast be slain, his mystical body destroyed, and given to the burning flame, Dan. vii. 11. As it is written, "And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not her plagues; for her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities." Thus, as God called Lot out of Sodom before they suffered the vengeance of eternal fire, Jude 7; so will he call his elect out of that spiritual Sodom, and Egypt, Rev. xi. 8; before she be utterly burnt with fire, Rev. xviii. 8.
I perceive in your narrative what I have observed in many, lamely, that although the elect are by nature the children of wrath, even as others; and are without God, and having no hope to the world, yet they are preserved in Christ Jesus, and called. And there it a particular providence that hovers about them all the days of their vanity, even from their infancy; as may be seer, in the singular preservation of Moses, and of Samuel; of Jacob also, from his struggling in the womb to his visions at Bethel; and in Joseph, from his childhood to his death. God preserved David wherever he went; and taught Ephraim to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that he healed them, Hos. xi. 3. Many false Messiahs and deceivers, called thieves and robbers, came into the world before Christ, and drew away multitudes; but the sheep, the chosen sheep, did not hear them, John x. 8. God will have his own elect, and in God's time they shall all make their calling and election sure. There is a time for every purpose; a day of salvation, and a set time to favour Zion: and in that acceptable time God hears us, and in that day of salvation he succours us, 2 Cor. vi. 2.
Conclude not, under every disagreeable sensation or sudden change, that all is lost: God gives us everlasting consolation and hope through grace. Joys and comforts, at first conversion, are fluctuating, to keep us tender and watchful; and, by sudden and short visits and withdrawments, the Lord makes himself known, and familiarizes himself to us. When the day-spring from on high visits us, we discover the wretched works of darkness, both in heart and life; and, when we come to bring the discoveries we make of ourselves to the light of the word, there are always some deeds to be reproved; yet the earnest language of the awakened sinner is "Search me, O Lord! and try me, and lead me in the way everlasting." And, by taking heed to the sure word of prophecy, the day-dawn and the day-star arises in the heart; which forebodes the brighter rising of the Sun of Righteousness, with healing in his beams.
He that hath a dream, may tell a dream; and he that hath God's word, may speak it, Jer. xxiii. 28. God has promised to pour water on them that are thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: and, as he has given thee an hunger and thirst after righteousness, being sensibly self-condemned both by law and conscience, he might shew you by a dream that he would in future extend peace to you like a river, the streams of which make glad the city of God. We are all by nature earthen vessels, and but red pitchers at best. Adam's name signifies red earth; and he was a pitcher that was broken at the fountain, and we in him, and therefore are fitly called broken vessels, Psalm xxxi. 12. You know God has promised to give his people a new heart, and to put his Spirit within them; and if be puts the water of life into thy heart, it will surely spring up that everlasting life, This will make the red pitcher a vessel of mercy indeed, for this is the good treasure promised.
I do not wonder at thy awaking with a violent pain in thine arm, for en arm of flesh is soon weary in well-doing. It is with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and, when the hand of faith gets a fast hold of the heart, it will bring it to the fountain, where thou mayest drink so as never to thirst again: but, without this hand of faith, there is no catching the streams, nor drawing water out of the wells of salvation, the fountain is so high, and the well is so deep. I have no doubt but you will see empty pitchers enough, that want filling, when thy own cup runs over; and thou wilt lift them up at arm's length to procure the blessing for them, and often think thou hast done it: but in this the poor widow that came to Elisha will exceed thee; her sons told her there was not an empty vessel more: which tidings will never be brought to thee; nor wilt thou have much labour in setting by that which is full, even though the oil continues to spring. In this thy labour will be great, and thine offspring few, or else thou wilt differ from all that have gone before thee. However, we read of two sinners being brought to the Lord by the instrumentality of women; Ruth by Naomi, and Naaman by a little captive girl of Judah: and I take it that thou wilt try to bring many empty pitchers to the fountain of life, but thy arm will ache again and again before thou wilt fill them. However, I believe the dream to be certain, and the interpretation to be sure.
I was informed that, in your affliction and deep poverty, charity abounded to the riches of your liberality, in mustering up a contribution to procure your father's release from purgatory. Is it true? And is there no redemption in the catholic church for the deceased poor whose surviving friends are without money and without price? If there be not, the whole proverb is confirmed, "No Penny, no Paternoster." Blessed be God, that redemption and salvation for such sinners as you and I, is of God, and not of man; of grace, and not of works; free, and not to be bought with corruptible things, such as gold and silver. We are redeemed with the precious blood of the Son of God, as of a lamb without blemish, and without spot. Be diligent in business, fervent in spirit, instant in prayer, watchful, and observant of the dealings of God; and thou wilt never know the want of a gracious Father to call on; nor of his bounteous supplies in times of need; nor of a ministering servant, to watch over thee, and attend on thee. Farewell. Grace and peace be with thee; while I remain,Dear Daughter,
Thine affectionate Father,
And willing Servant,
In Christ Jesus,Winchester Row, Paddington.
W. H.William Huntington