Epistles of Faith
William Huntington (1745-1813)TO MR. J. A.
I RECEIVED yours; and shall take the liberty of printing it, as 1 know there are many, who are struggling with the terrors of the law and their own corruptions, who will be glad to compare notes; especially such who have made a long and shining profession, and lived in daily expectations of heaven, till convictions have seized them, and brought them to the verge of hell, where their whole work has been burnt up. " Every man's work," saith the apostle, "shall be made manifest: fur the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is. If any man's work abide, which he hath built upon the foundation, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burnt, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire."
If the fiery law, the fire of wrath, and Satan's fiery darts, were to lay hold of every professor in our day, as they laid hold on Paul, the fire would be much larger than the dreadful fire of London, and a deal of wood, hay, and stubble, would be consumed, 1 Cor. iii. 12. Profession would be like the garden of Eden before the flame, but behind it a burnt mountain, or a desolate wilderness, Joel, ii. 3. However, "By fire and by sword will the Lord plead with all flesh, and the slain of the Lord shall be many," Isa. 1xvi. 16. Blessed is the man whom the Lord bringeth through fire, and through water, and out of a wealthy place. An experience of the terrors of the Lord makes men dread the thoughts of looking back; and a foretaste of heaven, at his happy deliverance, allures him, and draws him on. Thus both assist him on the way.
Whatever thou dost, be sure to hold fast thy first love: thou wilt find it a slippery thing, which will need the strength of both hands. Keep it in the midst of thy heart; let it not go, for that is the life of thy joys; the bond of union; the bond of all perfectness; the first-fruit of the Spirit; and the very soul and motion of the living creature in the wheels, that make it move like the chariots of Amminadab. It may be left, it cannot be lost. God's love to us is from everlasting; ours to him begins when his to us is discovered. lie can command his loving-kindness; we have no dominion over ours. His love is the body;
I believe that divine dreams and visions are from the Spirit of God: "I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy; your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids, in those days, will I pour out my Spirit," Joel, ii. 23, 29 The blessed effects of Isaiah's vision were, that his iniquity was taken away, and his sin purged. If pardon and peace be not the effects of the vision, the visions are no better than Balaam's, though his were from God; but they respected the safety of others, not his own.
I laughed at your catching at the bird, while others drew their swords at it. You read of the voice of the turtle being heard in the land when the tune of the singing of birds is come. Her cooing note is charming to a sin-sick soul, though many, whose words are like drawn swords, open their mouths against her However, the bird is your own., and you know it is the voice of the turtle that sets the soul to singing. Blessed is the young man who remembers and fears his Creator in the days of his youth; while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them. And the man who never embraced the good tidings of the turtle while it is spring with us, will hear her strange note another day, "When he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, when all the daughters of music shall be brought low. Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way," Eccles xii. 4, 5.
Above all things, aim at union, communion, and fellowship, with Jesus Christ. Without this, a profession is nothing but a galling yoke, an empty lamp, a sheep's skin, and a mere mask. By virtue of union with him, we feel his strength made perfect in our weakness; his peace is felt and enjoyed; and you know it is his own promise that, "The upright shall dwell in his presence." The professor who is a stranger to this union in times of trouble and temptation, is a vessel without an anchor, and in perpetual danger of shipwreck. The Lord path done great things for you, in delivering you from your melancholy; and where much is given, much is required. It well becomes the just to be thankful. Consider what an honour it is to be a son of God; it is an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. Farewell: be of good comfort, be strong, and be vigilant.
Excuse haste. Mercy and truth be with thee; while I remain,
Thy willing Servant,
In the Gospel of Christ,