Epistles of Faith
William Huntington (1745-1813)TO THE REV. MR. HUNTINGTON.
My dear and valuable Friend,
THE time has been when I have spent many a joyful hour with you, even in the days of your first love; and have travelled many a delightful and pleasant journey with you; and have cause to bless God that ever he brought me acquainted with you; and particularly on your behalf, because he has to this day kept you witnessing, both to small and great, the things which you have heard, which you have seen, and which the hand of your faith has handled of the word of life. For my part, I often call to mind the sweet conferences we held together at that highly-favoured spot, Ewell Marsh; when the candle of the Lord shone so bright upon your head, when your glory was fresh in you, and his visitations preserved your spirit. I never shall forget the transporting and unutterable love and joy which filled your heart while you dwelt in that rural cot; when your dwelling and despicable apparel could scarcely be equalled by any of the saints, unless by the beggar Lazarus at the gate; or those who wandered in sheepskins and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented; of whom the world was not worthy, Heb. xi. 37. But, notwithstanding your despicable dwelling, apparel, and barley fare, I have often envied you. How did it fire my soul with an holy jealousy and spiritual emulation to be like you! I felt a little of that spirit the apostles did, on the account of Jesus making his disciple John his bosom friend. I at that time often coveted your state; and my language was something like that of Esau to his father, "Have you not another such a blessing for me, O my Father!"
I do not only recall to mind the great fight of afflictions we passed through at that period, but the joy and consolation we enjoyed, and the sweet counsel we took together, in the days of our espousals, and in the day of the gladness of Christ's heart: they were the best days that I ever knew.
I shall never forget with what confidence you asserted, even when in a state of abject poverty, and not a friend in the world, excepting two or three journeymen shoemakers, &c. &c. That you should prophesy before thousands ere you died. And, though so poor and needy, yet, even then, you said, You should, in temporal prosperity, ride over the heads of many of your enemies that did then oppress you. And I remember that you renewed it again, at Thames Ditton, when still more oppressed; and said; That the day would come when you should lend to many, and borrow of none, as the Lord had promised you, Deut. xxviii. 12.
Happy should I be to sit under your ministry now, as I used to do; but this blessing is denied me. However, in this I enjoy a good conscience, that, when I had your ministry to attend on, I was enabled, through divine assistance, to embrace, and make the most of, all those precious seasons. And all the benefit I now receive, is from your writings; and this I account no small mercy your works have been very useful to me, and have, in a great measure, supplied the loss of your public ministrations.
It is true, I was not awakened under your ministry, but by reading the works of good old Bishop Latimer: yet, I owe my establishment in the faith wholly to your instrumentality; for it was the only means, in the hand of-God, of settling me, in my early days, in the great truths of the gospel; especially when we took sweet counsel together, on a certain spot of ground in a corn field, to which we were wont to resort.
Dear friend, I have one request to make; deny me not, for my spiritual sustenance, in a secondary manner, depends upon granting of it! that is, that you will continue publishing your Epistles of Faith, as they have been so peculiarly blessed to me; and, indeed, your writings are all the gospel that I have had for years past: and not only to me are your Letters blessed, but to many others also, in whose behalf, as well as my own, I make this request. I can publicly testify to the usefullness of this work. Your epistles contain a choice fund of christian experience; and make a little body of divinity, which is both entertaining and instructive.
The matter comprised in Letters is not forced, and labouriously studied, as other works are. There are many who sit down, and force themselves to compile a subject, as Saul forced himself to offer an offering; while the heart is neither engaged in it, nor affected with it. It is the flowings and effusions of a soul under the influence of pardoning love, that refreshes the bowels of others.
Go on, my dear friend, in this profitable, delightful, and pleasing work; and let nothing withdraw thy mind from this heavenly exercise. While the cruse springs, endeavour to fill the vessels of your neighbours, by sending the oil over all the coasts of Israel.
I add no more; only request a line when opportunity offers; and subscribe myself, with much respect and esteem,
Your affectionate Friend,
JOHN PAVEY.Kingston upon Thames, Aug. 1, 1790.