Epistles of Faith

Letter XVII

William Huntington (1745-1813)


Dear Brother in the Lord,

I AM surprised at your kindness in offering to give me a meeting to-morrow at Kingston. I have never merited any such favour at thy hands; but the Lord is good, and, I trust, has in some measure given us to drink into one Spirit, though I know I have the least share: for really I see myself worse and worse; and if God's wills and shalls did not hold me up, my ifs and buts would sink me into irrecoverable ruin. God hitherto has, and yet will, choose me in the furnace of affliction; and I well know it must have its sevenfold heat before I shall leave self behind. If I sin out of the fire but one week, down goes Christ, and up comes self; and I know, I well know, the meaning of these words, "A child, left to himself, will fall." I never go to a pulpit twice without chains; and I should soon lay both upper and nether millstone to pledge, if God did not, as our proverb is, lay more sacks on the mill.

Dear Brother, I have lately found very strange goings of God on my soul, much knotty work; and indeed, if God had not given me a particular call, and enabled me clearly to try, and make my calling and election sure, I should almost have doubted of my soul's interest in the covenant of free, self-abasing, and God-exalting, grace.

The people of Richmond being so dead, and so few that ever had life, it adds to my burden. I once preached to them from the vessels of gold, and silver, and of wood and earth; and there is, I fear, least of the former. To labour for matter in the fire, and, after all, to preach it in vain; to preach deliverance to captives, till they drop into hell in their chains, is truly the burden of the word of the Lord. And yet the Lord does seem to bless my labours here at Ditton: and the devil is always quarrelling about it; and will be at war; for he well knows, to my shame I speak it, that I was faithful to the unrighteous mammon; and, when he lost me, he lost a staunch friend, being a ringleader; and now a weak destroyer, or at least a disturber, of his kingdom. But, blessed be God for it! I never desired a cessation of arms, nor by any means conditions of peace; and I believe I shall suffer much for Christ's sake, and that we shall fight every step of our way. Well, be it so, since the woe is to them that are at ease in Zion; you will say, it is hard work to run and fight too. True; but it is harder work to run, and fight, and carry the cross too. Put we are always most healthy under the rod, and strongest when well loaded. I am sure every saint looks like an angel in my eyes, but myself. Surely I shall ever find work enough to obey any one of these four scriptures; "Thy will be done;" "Give me thy heart;" "Deny thyself;" "Only believe." Alas! who can do this, that is so poor in grace, and yet so proud in spirit! My dear brother, it is a great thing to be a Christian; the way is narrow; and how many have been striving at the strait gate to get in, without the key of experimental knowledge! May he who keeps the key of David make us wise to salvation, and unlock these three gates to us: David's gate of righteousness, which we enter by justification; Isaiah's gate of liberty, by knowing and keeping the truth; and the gate, or door of mercy, by knowing Christ, and by knowing we are justified in, and made free by, him! Then we are free men of Salem's city; and are in the covenant of peace, and citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and shall go no more out of the city, to have no more curse, to see no more sea of God's wrath, and to have no more night! Truly this has been my soul's experience; and I daily weep before God for the continued enjoyment of it, or else to come home to the full enjoyment of what this is an earnest of. O the Lord's goodness to such a wretch! One would think I should be all obedience, all humility, all love! but, alas! I appear as far from it as dreadful perdition is from the throne of God! but I cannot give up hope.

I believe the scheme of my enemies, in trying to carry me home to my own parish, like a vagabond, will be the very means that God will use to settle me a parishioner here. Surely, from first to last, I am a miracle! but yet a rebel! O Lord, forgive! My best love to your spouse, and fellow-servant. I wish you the enjoyment of the dearest of all friends, and the sweetest of all names; wishing you and yours may be saved. Amen, and Amen!

W. H.

Thames Dillon, Tuesday Morning.

William Huntington