Epistles of Faith
William Huntington (1745-1813)
TO MRS. J. C.
Dear Daughter in the Faith,
I RECEIVED yours. Make no apologies for not answering mine before. Business must be minded. God joins diligence in business and fervour in spirit together. As the Spirit of God flows into the heart, the spirit of the world creeps out. The hands can work for men, while God keeps possession of the heart; and, as heavenly things gain esteem, the things of the world grow into contempt; "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, out the Spirit that is of God; that we may know the things that are freely given us of God," 1 Cor. ii. 12. A believing view of Christ crucified, crucifies us to the world, and the world to us. When a soul lives to God, he dies to these things. Where the joys of heaven flourish, earthly joys wither. May the Lord continue these vanities in the same contemptuous light in which they now appear, and then thou wilt dwell on high, and see the King in his beauty, and the land which is` very far off The wise man's words will be verified; The way of life is above the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath."
Thou art indebted to the Father of mercies, and God of all comfort, for every consolation. It is he that unstops the deaf ear, clothes his word with power, sends the joyful sound into the heart, and fastens his word, as a nail in a sure place. Pardon, peace, and reconciliation, are joyful tidings to a sin-sick soul; they are Solomon's good news from a far country, which is as cold water to a thirsty soul.
When God breathes on the senseless sinner the breath of life, he can no more live without prayer than a beggar can live without bread. It is the work of the Holy Ghost to draw the soul upward. When the mind is once influenced by the Divine Spirit, nothing but divinity can satisfy it. "My soul thirsteth for God, yea, for the living God!" saith the Psalmist: "when shall I come and appear before God?" while the mind and thoughts are swarming about the fountain of life, the thoughts of God's heart, and the words of his mouth, drop on the new-born soul like ripe fruit into the mouth of the eater. "How sweet are thy thoughts toward me!" saith the Psalmist: "how great is the sum of them!" and thy word is sweeter also than honey, and the honeycomb! Psalm xix. 10.
I wonder not at your satisfaction with absolution. A dead soul as satisfied with dead works, when the strong man armed keepeth the palace, his goods are in peace. It was the devil in the priest that heard your confession and gave you absolution; and it was the devil in you that sent you home satisfied with it; for, as none can forgive sins but God alone, so none but the devil could ever embolden a carnal priest to attempt it, or a senseless wretch to expect it. The whole is palmed upon Satan, who is the arch seducer, and the only founder of this devilish absolution; on which account the recipients of such absolution are charged with giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, while the priest is speaking lies in hypocrisy, I Tim iv. 1, 2.
It is popish underwriter has no more than five shillings for insuring a vessel of wrath from purgatory to heaven, how comes it to pass that there is a livelihood for so many in the trade? or, are there different prices, according to the property of the survivors? If five shillings will redeem a brother, or pay a ransom to God for his soul, purgatory will be thinly inhabited. I question not that the Saviour paid ore than this in tribute to Caesar, and a much higher price for our redemption; so that procuring of it by corruptible things ceaseth forever, Psalm xlix. 6-8.
It is a well-spun device of Satan, indeed; and, one would think, it were impossible that a person of common sense could ever believe it. "If a man keep the whole law, and offend in one point, he is guilty of all;" and heaven and earth shall pass away before one jot or tittle of the law shall fail; "The soul that sinneth it shall die;" and, "God is not a man that he should lie, nor the son of a man that he should repent:" therefore, no satisfaction can be made by the sinner, who is under the sentence of death, and which is executed in part, the wrath of God abiding on him. Besides, the law of God never promised eternal life, and glory in heaven; both of these were secured in a better head than Adam; and given to Christ, and to the elect in him, before Adam was formed. They come by a covenant of grace, not of works; and are secured by the purpose and promise of God, and by the Saviour's blood and righteousness; not by our legal obedience; much less by illegal obedience to the doctrines and commandments of men, which turn from the truth. Of this, my daughter, be assured, that neither the angels of heaven, nor Adam in paradise, could ever merit any thing at the hand of God. A perfect and perpetual obedience to God's will is claimed, both of angels and men; this all his creatures owe, and it is no more than their reasonable service; and, when they have done all, they are but unprofitable servants; for how can a creature be profitable unto God? Job xxii. 2; or what can they do for God that eh cannot do without them? Or what can they do for him that he is not the efficient cause of, and agent in them? "He put no trust in his servants, and his angels he charged with folly," Job iv. 18. If neither angels nor innocent Adam could merit aught at the hands of God, how can rebels make satisfaction to injured goodness and offended justice, when our wickedness is great, and our iniquities infinite? Job xxii. 5. If the Saviour himself had been anything less than self-existent, independent, and eternal Jehovah, he could never have redeemed his brethren, nor paid a ransom for them, nor have brought in an everlasting righteousness. It was his being equal with God, when he made his obedience divine. It is called an everlasting righteousness, and the righteousness of God; "For their righteousness is of me," saith Jehovah. And it was his being the word that was with God, and that was God' being made flesh, and offering himself through the eternal Spirit to God; that sets him forth, in the word, as the author of eternal salvation to all that obey him, for vain is the salvation of man. But Israel is saved, in Jehovah, with an everlasting salvation, and no wonder; for, "He that is our God, is the God of salvation;" therefore Israel shall not be ashamed, nor confounded, world without end.
It is good, my daughter to cite thyself at a throne of grace, and call thyself to an account for every offence. "If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged." If this be neglected, God summons us to the bar of equity; and, "When we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world."
It is strange, that lying in goal should pay debts. An earthly creditor calls for money; and, could the debtor lie a thousand years in prison, the creditor is still the loser. So God's law calls for obedience, which is love to him with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength; and this must be with freedom, willingness, and cheerfulness, before it can be called obedience; otherwise, it is eye-service, or extorted labour, and not righteousness. All short of this is disobedience; and the unrighteous cannot enter into the kingdom. And who can suppose that he curse and wrath of God in purgatory, or in the torments of hell, working eternal death in a carnal mind, which is enmity against God, not subject to his law, nor can be, can produce such a cheerful obedience as this from sinners, who will look up, and curse both their king and their God? Isa. Viii. 21. If the offers of grace, mercy and truth, do not win the sinner to reconciliation, there is but little expectation of its being accomplished b indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish: "They that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth." It is the living, the living, not the dead, that praise the Lord.
Blessed be God, that thou wast a child of darkness, and a servant of sin, once; but you are now light in the Lord. Walk as a child of light, and serve God in the newness of the Spirit, and thou wilt have thy fruit unto holiness, and thine end everlasting life.
I wish thee every blessing that heaven hath promised, and thy heart can desire. And remain,Dear Daughter,
Thine affectionate Father,
In the faith of God's elect,
W.H.Winchester Row, Paddington