Epistles of Faith

Letter XIV

William Huntington (1745-1813)


Dear Friend,

I WILL, at this time, in a strait betwixt two, between the bed and the pulpit. I am not bad enough to cleave, with full purpose of heart, to the pillow; nor am I strong enough to abide steadfastly by the cushion. I have got something of rheumatic pains in my head, stomach, knees, &c. and I can find no temporal remedy that can give relief. The sovereign influence of the covenant head, the sounding of mercy's bowels, and the exercise of faith, would set both my head and knees to rights; but the wayfaring man has not turned aside, nor tarried a night with me, for some time. I leave been, for many nights and days, seeking and feeling after the great physician; but all the answer that I can get is, Wait, You must come, or, You must call again. In the pulpit I feel neither sick nor sorry: but my sermon and my health, both end together; for I have no sooner concluded, than I cry, hey head! my head! The flock go off with their health recovered, and their youth renewed; but I go groaning home. "So then, death worketh in me, but life in you." In this dilemma, I act as other sick doctors do; I give advice, but take none; I can prescribe to others, but can make no application to myself. There is something within that tells me he will return again, and that I shall thrive as the corn, and grow as the vine. So that I am not left without a witness, nor has my master left himself without a proxy. But, when this prophecy is fulfilled, I shall be brought into another strait: if I flourish in this study, I fear I shall wither in the pulpit. When the fleece is wet, the floor is often dry, and how can I eat my morsel alone, and see the family dried up like a potsherd? This has often been the case: therefore I wot not which to choose; my present languid frame of body and mind, under which the household is banqueted; or my future feast, while they keep Lent.

What little I can do at present, must be near home. I can by no means come to Peckham till I get rid of my present pack and package. I shall add no more, but a caution to you, and to all the friends of religion, never to speak or write against any sort of furniture that has passed under sacred consecration; for it appears to me, that every good man is bound, by the eternal laws of charity, to keep a chafingdish for the use of himself, and his neighbours. I am, sir,

With all due respect,

Your willing Servant,

In the service of the Sanctuary,

W. H.

Winchester Row, October 14th, 1760.

HEAT, rage, and fury, passion, fume, and pet,
Encompass'd Jesus when he paid my debt!
This tragic scene completes redemption's plan,
And holy passion ransom'd ruin'd man!

Meekness and pity cope with burning ire;
Vindictive Justice will contend by fire!
Vengeance and mercy, each their part perform
We find the shelter, he endur'd the storm!

WHEN Christ and sinners first in union meet,
They rest together, and they both have heat.
I'll never say to heat, Depart! begone!
While Wisdom asks, "Can one be warm alone?"

O sacred flame! be thou my ardent wish,
The golden censer, or the chafingdish!
'Tis these shall make my languid incense rise,
And send her rich perfumes above the skies.

'Tis hallow'd fire prepares the gospel feast,
And every saint that's made a royal priest.
The starving soul must meet with sordid fare,
Unless some burning, shining light, be there.

'Twas holy fire that cook'd the Levite's lot;
That lit his lamps, and kept his offerings hot.
The gospel net still takes the mystic fishes:
Who serve them up, must have their chafingdishes,

A lukewarm state is neither good nor safe;
The holy spouse in jealous flames could chafe.
Let none this hallow'd furniture traduce,
The chafingdish is not enough in use.

Let the King hear us when we call!

William Huntington