Epistles of Faith
William Huntington (1745-1813)TO MY UNKNOWN CORRESPONDENT.
You are welcome to have a little conversation with me at any fame when I am disengaged from preaching, if you give me timely notice.
I see nothing in your Letter but what is common to God's elect when first apprehended by divine justice. When the law is set home on the heart, sin will take occasion by the commandment to work in the alarmed soul all manner of concupiscence; for without the law sin is dead, Rom. vii. 8. When Justice arrests the sinner, and applies the law, the terrors of the law awake the slumbering enmity and unsuspected corruptions of the heart: "I was alive without the law once; but, when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died." Our ghostly enemy also is sure to be busy with such a case: he can never hold possession of his palace, and his goods, in peace, but only where the understanding is veiled, the conscience seared or stifled with dead works, the corruptions of the sinner fall asleep, and his soul in carnal ease and security. When the eye of Justice flashes convictions, the adversary is discovered; when the terrors of the law stir up and discover the desperate enmity and evil of the heart, his possession is disturbed; false peace and carnal ease are sure to be routed. Every sinner under heaven shall most certainly pass through this fiery trial; if it be not done in this world, it will be done in the next. They who are not alarmed or awakened in the land of the living, are sure to lift up their eyes in hell, where justice, law, terrors, guilt, corruption, and fiery darts, will not seize them, but hold them fast for ever. On which account the Psalmist called the first terrors of his mind the pains of hell; signifying, that they are peculiar to, and the everlasting portion of, souls there. But the elect have it in this world, that they may escape it in the next; " When we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world."
I have grappled with all those evils which your Letter contains; and they are all to be found dispersed here and there in the scriptures of truth, as some of the most perilous footsteps of. the flock, and left upon record for the encouragement of such as we. Yea, saith the apostle, "For this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting," 1 Tim. i. 16.
As your day is, so shall your strength be. Judgment shall return unto righteousness, and then wilt follow that. Moses himself was no stranger to this horrible pit; he had been plunged into it, and called out of it: "Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men," Psal. xc. 3. Remember, "The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." The thirty-third chapter of Job contains almost the whole of your case; in which God points it out, speaks to it, gives instructions about it, and lays a foundation for hope of deliverance. Be strong, and quit yourself like a sinner in earnest. Be as importunate as the widow with the unjust judge, who fairly tired him out. Let the publican's petition be your constant plea. "And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him? I tell you, he will avenge them speedily." Consider also, that our sins were condemned in Christ's flesh; our old man was crucified with him. Hence it appears that Sin is a condemned felon; the old man, by the death of Christ, is dead; and as to the devil, he is not only cursed, but bound hand and foot. All these can do nothing without the Lord's sufferance: nor can they render thy disease incurable; it is the Lord himself that wounds, and it is he that heals: his blood cleanses from all sin; and he is able to save to the uttermost all that come to God by him.
Sit under the most spiritual and experimental preachers that you can find; and expose both your conscience and your sins to their sword, like the Psalmist, who wished to know the worst; and desired not to be deceived, but said, "Search me, O Lord, and try me." "There are," saith the wise man, "that speak like the piercings of a sword; but the tongue of the wise is health."
I shall add no more, but my petitions in your calamity; and, in God's due time, you will see what prayer can do.
Your willing servant,
In the gospel of Christ,
Winchester Row, Paddington.