Epistles of Faith
William Huntington (1745-1813)
I BELIEVE the brightest, and best of Christians, are at times subject to doubts and misgivings, especially those who have had a deep view, and a keen sense, of the deceitfulness of their own heart; which has appeared to be such a desperately wicked thing, that they can neither trust it, nor entertain a charitable opinion of the soundness of it, even when God has purified it by the grace of faith.
When Satan made an attempt upon the Saviour, he failed: he could not raise a doubt in his mind, because the lather of not got in him his darling daughter, sin, to cohabit with; therefore there could be neither conception nor production. In Christ was no sin: his human nature was an holy thing; therefore, when the prince of this world came, he found nothing in him.
The Saviour's human nature was not only free from all sin, Consequently, free from unbelief, one of the worst, if not the greatest sin, but the fullness of the Spirit was upon him also: and he was full of grace and truth; and did discover unparalleled love, and the fullest assurance of faith in God, all his days, together with every other grace. And though it is said, he "was heard, in that he feared," Heb. v. 7; yet it was not a sinful fear, but the grace of fear, that he exercised: "A servant feareth his master." Christ was God's honourable servant, Isaiah, xlii. 1; and the spirit of the fear of the Lord did rest upon him, Isaiah, xi. 2, 3. Against this holy thing, anointed with all the fullness of the Holy Ghost, and full of grace and truth, which human nature was united to the person of the Son of God, Satan could do nothing. But then, you will say, how came Satan to prevail over Eve, who pronounced good, and who stood in Adam's image? "The woman," says Paul, "is the image of the man," and no doubt but she partook of the image of Adam in the best sense; and if the Holy Ghost was in them, as I firmly believe he was, yet they had no promise of his eternal abode; the eternal indwelling of the Spirit was secured to the elect in Christ, who is the better covenant head, and to his seed only, and that from eternity. Read Isaiah lix. 21. Adam and Eve had no promise of momentary support as we have, nor of being kept by the mighty power of God, this was to come through faith in the better covenant, and not by the law, for, "The law is not of faith," nor faith by the law. God has shewn us that no creature can stand alone; angels could not, Adam could not, nor Peter, though called by grace. In short, the Holy Ghost promised to us the image of God, the tree of life, and the heavenly paradise; the second Adam, and Jerusalem the mother of us all, were in truth in God's purpose, of which Adam and Eve, in their best estate, were only types. They were not created under the dominion or reign of all-preveiling grace. Both these were to come to them, not at their first formation, but at their transformation; not at their creation, but at their conversion; not by the law, but by the covenant of promise: these blessings were in the hand of the Messiah, and secured for them in him, before either Adam of Eve was formed.
When Satan came to Eve, he had no sin in her to work upon but the father of lies dropped his seed into her ear; and this lie was accompanied with unbelief, just as faith comes by hearing, and bearing by the word of truth. He told her, she should not die. This lie was admitted to the door of her heart; and Satan immediately backed it with a promise of her being like God. Thus falsehood and pride leavened her mind, till infidelity was conceived: then she believed Satan's lie, disbelieved the Lord's sentence, and ate the fatal fruit; and, when her eyes were opened, sin, which lay at the door of her heart, got into her conscience and made shocking work there. Thus lust was conceived, which brought forth sin; and sin, when finished, brought forth death.
As for us, we are all concluded in unbelief; which appears to be the devil's shield and bulwark, with which the strong hold on a sinner's heart, in which he reigns, is fortified; and though the Holy Spirit casts him out of the stubborn will, the mind, and the throne of the heart, by his divine power, which subdues the will; and by faith, which influences and persuades the mind, and by shedding abroad the love of God in the heart, yet the old corruptions remain; a divine nature is received, but the carnal nature is not rooted up. Sin is dethroned, but not cast out; subdued, but not destroyed: its reign is destroyed, but not its being; grace reigns, but not to the utter, extirpation of sin; nor will it, till it issues in glory. A principle of grace is God's seed produced by the operation of the Spirit: and, under the influence of the Spirit, a new man is put on; but the old man is not wholly abolished, because self is daily to be denied, and the old man and his deeds are daily to be put off Thus the new man and the old one, like the twins in Rebekah's womb, exist and struggle together in every believer, more or less. Faith is the hand of the new man, and unbelief is the cursed sinew of the old one. The Spirit manages and maintains his work of grace, and the devil does all he can to stir up and animate the remaining, corruption sordid dust is the serpent's only meat. Under the influence of the Spirit grace reigns, and we are happy; but under the motion of the devil corruption is stirred, and we are miserable. The groundless doubts and misgivings of real believers spring from unbelief therefore must be sinful; and they are produced by a conjunction between the devil and corruption. All sin is conceived under the operation of the father of lies. Ananias and Sapphira conceived by this father; it was Satan that filled their heart; and the same father was at work on Peter, when the Lord said, "Get thee behind me, Satan." That the groundless doubts and fears of the saints are sinful, appears plain from the Saviour's rebuking them; besides, it is calling the truth and faithfulness of God in question; nor are they ever attended with the approbation and comfortable presence of God, which is a manifest proof of the divine displeasure at them. It is the unremitted practice of Satin to tempt to sin, and especially the children of God; and if they fall into sin, they fall into the condemnation of the devil: for he turns accuser, and condemns them for it. Fresh guilt obscures the light of God's countenance, or hides his face; and, when light is withdrawn, Satan's works of darkness go on. Guilt contracted weakens the exercise of faith, and damps the joys of faith. While under Satan's accusation, unbelief contracts and bars the heart, and then doubts and fears rise up: but, when God shines again, Satan is discovered; and, when guilt is purged, the accuser is silenced. Pardoning love enlarges the heart; faith; working by love, subdues unbelief; while doubts and fears all vanish. Young believers are very apt to be pestered with doubts and fears, because their faith is weak: their light is dim; they see, but it is out of obscurity, and out of darkness; and Satan is ever to be busy with the weak and feeble. Blessed be God for ever! Jesus died for the sin of unbelief, as well as all other sins, and to us it shall not be imputed in a judicial way. "Blessed is the man whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin." Thanks be to God for his unspeakable mercy. Amen and Amen,
Your willing Servant,
Sed Casuistus valde inexhertus,