Epistles of Faith
William Huntington (1745-1813)TO MR. RINGER, AND HIS COMPANY, SILVER STREET, SOUTHWARK.
You need not be at any trouble to procure me the book you talked of: the whole works of those two false witnesses are in my possession.
It is, doubtless, my duty to endeavour to undeceive the deceived, and to convert the sinner from the error of his way; and to submit my endeavours to God, and leave it to his sovereign will and pleasure, whether to make his own word a savour of life unto life, or of death unto death. I am fully persuaded that, if God sends a strong delusion, that a man may believe a lie, and he damned, all attempts to recover him will prove ineffectual; nevertheless, I shall be unto God a sweet savour of Christ in them that perish, as well as in them that are saved. It is not a matter of indifference whether a man believes truth or falsehood; seeing Christ declares, that nothing should enter into the heavenly Jerusalem that loveth or maketh a lie. And I must tell you, sir, that you are, at this time, given up to believe a lie. You feed upon ashes: a deceived heart hath turned you aside; so that you cannot deliver your soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand? Isa. xliv. 20. The unerring Spirit of God, and the scriptures of truth, are our infallible guides. He that speaks not according to God's word, has no light in him; and he that teaches any other gospel than that which is revealed in the scriptures, is to be held accursed, whether man or angel,
The doctrines of Muggleton and Reeve are, in scripture style, damnable delusions; and that of the mortality of the soul, and of the death of the soul of Christ, is an infernal lie. I shall attempt a full confutation of this point, and prove these two witnesses to be joint liars, from their book intituled, "Joyful News from Heaven; or the last Intelligence:' hoping the title will prove true, and that we shall have no more such false intelligence delivered in the name of the God of heaven.
Does Christ's saying, "I lay down my life, that I might take it again," prove the mortality, or death of his soul, as these men have asserted in page the first?
"Moreover, because many of the blessed ones are not fully satisfied concerning Christ's soul dying with his body, therefore I shall write somewhat from his own words spoken upon that account. John the 12th, it is thus written: "Except a corn of wheat fall in the ground, and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."
Page the 2d. "So likewise, had not Christ's divine life been wholly dead and buried in the heart of the grave, with the body of his flesh, what spiritual advantage of a glorious increase to himself, through the spirits of elect men and angels, could have been attained to in the least?"
How can any of God's blessed ones give credit to, or be satisfied with, such lies as these? Does Christ's saying; "I lay down my life," imply an extinction, or an annihilation of his soul, that it should be dissolved, fall asleep, or die, so as to be buried with his body in the heart of the earth? In no sense whatsoever. The soul is a spirit, and is spiritual, and therefore it cannot be mortal. Nor is death an extinction, or a dissolving the soul into nothing; but it is a dissolving of the union between the body and the soul; as it is written, "The body, without the spirit, is dead" At death, the body goes one way, and the soul another. The soul of Christ went into the hands of his Father, while his body was hanging on the cross: "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." And, having said thus, he gave up the ghost to his Father; while his body went into the hands of Joseph of Arimathea, who begged the body of Jesus, and laid it in his own sepulchre, Luke xxiii. 52. At the Lord's resurrection, a reunion took place: the body of which, without the spirit, was dead, being put to death in the flesh, was quickened by the Spirit, and re-united to the soul of Christ. The body being quickened, raised, and re-united to the soul, the whole of the human nature, consisting of body and soul, appeared in union with the person of the Son of God, who is, "Declared to be the Son of God with power, according to (the testimony of) the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead," Rom. i. 4.
And as to Christ's divine life being wholly dead and buried in the heart of the grave, &c. that is a most dreadful absurdity Christ, as God, is eternal life in the abstract. He told Moses, that he lifts up his hand, and says, I live for ever. He is the quickening Spirit, the Lord from heaven. The same divine person who said, "A body hast thou prepared me;" said also, "I lay down my life, and I take it again." The divine I Ant did not expire with the body, though the body expired in union with him; nor did his human soul go into the tomb, but into the hand of God the Father. He was put to death in the flesh, not in his divine nature; and quickened by the Spirit, which can never die. To talk of divine, eternal, or everlasting life, expiring, or dying, is a contradiction in terms. For, though he was the Lord of life and glory when he was put to death, yet immortal life and glory died not: that text proves the union between the Godhead and manhood of Christ; which union stood firm in death: he was no less than God's Holy One, when he laid in the grave; omnipresence did not leave the body, nor did omnipotence suffer it to see corruption, though the union of body and soul was dissolved for three days.
Nor does the soul of man, whether of a saint or a sinner, die, so as to be extinct, dissolved to nothing; or to be put to sleep with the body in the grave. The spirit of Adam was immortal breath in the mouth of the Most High, before it was breathed, as a living soul, into his body. His body was formed of the dust of the ground, but the breath of life was breathed into his nostrils from the mouth of God, Gen. ii. 7. One is manifested to be of heavenly extraction, while the other is altogether of earthly: and, at dissolution by death, the dust returns to the earth, as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God, who gave it, Eccles. xi. 7. Adam's soul had life in the mouth of his Maker, before his body was taken from the dust; and the immortal soul shall exist separate from it, either in heaven or in hell, when the body shall turn to its dust again. Stephen committed his spirit into the hands of the Lord Jesus, before devout men carried his body to the burial, Acts vii. 59; viii. 2; and I take it for granted, that you will not attempt to assert, that the Lord Jesus was the grave or burial-place of Stephen's body. The soul of the penitent thief was to be, on the day of Christ's death, with Christ in Paradise; Luke, xxiii. 43. Surely the thief's dead soul, hanging with the dead body on the cursed tree, could never be said to be with Christ in paradise. If you ask, what paradise is, into which the thief was to enter on that day with Christ? the Holy Ghost tells us, that it is the third heaven, where God resides. For confirmation of this; "1 will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago; (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or out of the body, I cannot tell; God knoweth:) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell; God knoweth: how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not possible to utter. Of such an one will I glory," 2 Cor. xii. 1-5. Here we have a vision and revelation of God, left upon record by the Holy Ghost, of a man going into the third heaven; but, whether the soul of Paul went alone to paradise, or in the body, he could not tell. Hence it is declared, that paradise is the third heaven; and Christ promised, that the thief on the cross should be, on the day of his crucifixion, with him in the third heaven. If the Saviour's divine life and human soul, and the soul of the thief, all died, and were buried in the heart of the grave; I would be glad to know what of the Saviour, and of the thief, was to be together on that day in the third heaven, which, the Holy Ghost says, is paradise. We are well assured that the third heaven and the grave are two distinct places; and that the third heaven will remain when the starry and elementary heavens, together with the earth and all her works, shall be burnt up.
God said unto Moses, "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." The Saviour, quoting the passage, says, "He is not the God of the dead, but of the living." If, therefore, the souls of these three patriarchs are dead with their bodies, must he not be the God of the dead? which the Saviour says he is not. And, if he be the God of the living, and not of the dead, must not their souls be alive somewhere or other, as he is the God of these three men, and the God of the living only? Paradise is the third heaven; to which every overcoming soul shall go when it departs from the body; and shall eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God, Rev. ii. 7. Into this paradise the soul of the Saviour in union with his deity, and the soul of the thief, went on the day of the Lord's crucifixion. In this paradise are the spirits of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, of whose living souls he is the living God. Into this paradise the spirit of Stephen went, and the translated bodies and souls of Enoch and Elijah; for neither their bodies nor souls died, nor was any part of them buried in the heart of the earth.
When Lazarus died, his soul was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. The grave is not called the bosom of the everlasting father of the faithful, nor the arms of angels; butt place of dead men's bones, not souls, and of all uncleanness. A strange paradise, indeed!
The souls of all departed saints are gone into the third heaven, where the soul of the thief went. Their souls were not gathered with the wicked, nor laid in the grave; they were all gathered unto their own people, and are now called the spirits of just men made perfect. But, if they are all dead, and buried with their bodies, they are far enough from perfection. At dissolution by death, the soul of Rachel departed; it did not die with her body, nor sleep in the dust with it. Simeon's soul departed in peace, according to God's word: but, if it had died in or with the body, and been buried with that, it could not have been said to depart; for, in Muggleton's sense, there is no separation or disunion. Nor could Paul's departure bring him to be with Christ, which he so much preferred, if his soul was to die for eighteen hundred years. Elijah prayed that the soul of the child might come into him again, 1 Kings xvii. 21. if the soul died in the body, it did not go out of it; and if the immortal soul was not departed from the body, and gone another way, it could not be expected to come back into him again. The soul is the seat of faith. The law of faith is written in the mind by the Spirit of God. To act faith is peculiar to the soul. Faith is a persuasion in the mind, wrought by the Holy Ghost; the act of it is a going out of self into Christ, and a bringing Christ into us: "Believe," saith the Lord, "that I am in you, and you in me" Such a soul passes from the deadly curse of the law to the blessing of life; he passes from death to life; he hath everlasting life; lie shall live for ever, John vi. 58; he shall never die, John xi. 26; the Spirit shall spring up in him into everlasting life; the blessing of all life is for evermore, Psalm cxxxiii. 3. All these texts respect the soul; for the death of the body, by a separation of the soul from it, is decreed: "It is appointed unto all men once to die." But the soul acts faith even in the very act of separation. "These all died in faith." "Through faith and patience they inherit the promises," Heb. vi. 12; but, if dead, they cannot inherit them. They receive the end of their faith, which is the salvation of their souls, not the death of them; they are saved from death, not brought to it. The souls of departed saints receive an inheritance among them that are already sanctified, Acts xxvi. 18; but, if they are dead, they can receive nothing. They go to the saints now in light, Col. i. 12; not in death, nor darkness. When the heavens reveal Christ, he will bring the souls of the saints with him, I Thess. iii. 13; not fetch them out of the grave. The Comforter abides in the soul for ever; he never departs from Christ, nor his seed: but, if the soul dies, he cannot be an everlasting Comforter to it; nor can we receive everlasting consolation, as well as good hope, seeing death puts a stop to it. If the Spirit is never to forsake the soul, it cannot die; for the grave is not the temple of the Holy Ghost. The Spirit, that now dwells with the saints, shall, in the great day, quicken their mortal bodies; not their immortal souls, for they were quickened, and raised from a death in sin to a life of faith, at conversion; and brought from under the ministration of death, to immortality and eternal life in Christ Jesus.
The grain of wheat that fell into the ground died: the Saviour's body, without the Spirit, was dead; and the grain that was sown in the earth could not have been quickened except it died, 1 Cor. xv. 36. Had he not died, he would have remained alone. Without redemption by his death, we could have had no part with him; but, as he died, he brought forth much fruit. Having raised his own body, he became the first-fruits of them that slept. And the resurrection of our bodies at the end of the world will be the whole harvest. His resurrection is an earnest and pledge of ours.
Nor do the souls of the wicked die, or dissolve, with their bodies; nor are they buried with them: they may die in a legal sense, in their sins, under the wrath and curse of God, under the sentence of death and damnation; and die away into an everlasting separation from the living God, and go quick into hell. "The rich man died, and was buried;" but his soul was not dissolved in him, nor was it buried with him; for his soul lift up his eyes in hell, his conscience was awakened, and the eyes of his understanding were opened, after the burial of the body, and he saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
Pharaoh, and all his multitude, Ezek. xxxi. 16, 18; Meshech and Tubal, and all their multitude, Ezek. xxxii. 26, 27; are already in hell: and hell hath opened her mouth beyond measure, to receive multitudes, with all their glory and pomp, since the fall of them; whose souls are not extinct, nor buried in their graves, but in hell; who see every tyrant that comes there, and narrowly consider him; saying, "Is this the man that made the earth to tremble?" &c. Isa. xiv. 15, 16.
If Reeve and Muggleton be two infallible witnesses, I know not where we shall find two more such, unless it be the Devil and the Pope: for they have contradicted the word of truth, and the God of truth; and are manifest liars, and false witnesses of God. When Messrs. Ringer and Harrald, and their Company, have disproved and overturned all those scriptures that I have advanced, which they shall never do, they may hear from me again. He that taketh from the words of Christ, either the Letter or the sense, shall have no part in the book of life; and he that addeth to them, becomes an heir of all the curses contained in that book.
There must be heresies, that the contrary part may be made manifest. We are forewarned of false Christs and false prophets, which, if it were possible, should deceive the very elect: and, if men are not satisfied with the truth, God sends them a strong delusion, which generally pleases them better; so that they who are not with Christ, may be against him; and they that gather not with him, may scatter abroad. No professor shall stand neuter here: the sun shall ripen the tares as well as the wheat, and weeds generally grow faster than corn.
Mrs. M. of Holywell Mount, who used to write in the Magazines under the name of Magdalena, swallowed down Muggleton's lies, and entertained his strange notions concerning Cain and his seed; till she told me, she denied the fall of angels, and the being of devils: but God delivered her up to Satan; and, after laying several months in St. Luke's, she was convinced, as well as many others, that there are such creatures as devils. And I should not he surprised if Mr. Ringer should share the same fate: I thought I saw an appearance of it when Mr. Best and I visited him. If you tempt Christ, by forsaking the truth, it is no wonder if he permit the devil to tempt you. It is those only who keep the word of Christ's patience, that he will keep from the hour of temptation.
Strong confidence in false doctrine is one of Satan's strongest holds. Such a deluded sinner is shut up indeed, and none but God can bring him out. The wise man looks well to his way; but it is the fool that rages, and is confident. I do not want to know your speech, but your power. It is not the notions of Muggleton, nor even every word of God's own book, receive into the head, that will constitute you a subject of Christ's kingdom; his kingdom is not in word, but in power; in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Remember, I have admonished you this day. Adieu.