Epistles of Faith
William Huntington (1745-1813)TO MR. B. WELWYN, HERTS.
YOURS I received, and have considered the thing whereof volt wrote unto me. Touching the authority of a minister, my judgment is this: If Christ was to send an angel from heaven unto me, I am fully persuaded that he would not come to be ministered unto, but to minister. I should err, if I thought him to be any thing more in office than a messenger of the Lord of hosts, a ministering spirit to me, and my fellow-servant in the ministry. "They are all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them which are the heirs of salvation." But unto the angels hath God not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. Nor hath he put the heirs of the world to come in subjection to angels neither. To us there is but one Lord, one ruler, one king. Christ hath no co-partners in his mediatorial empire. If the great apostle of the Gentiles was my pastor, he could not lord it over my conscience, only commend himself, or make an appeal to that court. Conscience is the principality of Christ; and none but antichrist would usurp authority, or offer violence there. Paul was a servant of Christ, and a servant of the Church for Christ's sake. If he follows Christ, I am to follow him; if he waits upon his Master, he is to be honoured with double honour; if he does the work of an evangelist, he is to be esteemed very highly in love for his work's sake; if he feeds me, I am to feed him; if I reap of his spiritual things, he is to reap of my carnal things; if he is as God's mouth to me, I am to be obedient by word and deed; but, if he cannot feed me, he hath no authority to starve me; if he cannot lead me on, he hath no commission to bring me back; Let not the king hold too many horses, lest he bring my people into Egypt, Deut. xvii. 16. And a preacher is to have no dominion over my faith, lest he bring me into bondage. The pastor that loves the chief shepherd will feed his sheep and lambs. He is a pastor after God's own heart that feeds his people with knowledge and understanding. He is a scribe instructed in the kingdom of God who firings things out of his treasures, new and old. And he that gives a portion to seven, and also to eight, is one that deals the doctrines, promises, and blessing of the gospel, to the heirs of promise; and the commandments, threatenings, and curses of the law to the children of the flesh. The faith of such must be followed, Considering the end of their conversation. An under-ruler in Zion, is one who can describe the liberties and privileges of the citizens; and a real labourer in the Lord's vineyard, is one that has first tasted of the fruits thereof; and therefore can describe the union that subsists between the vine and the branches; and what clusters they are that God calls bitter, and what clusters they are that have a blessing in them. God gives you the character of those who are ignorant of Zion, and blind to the way of the vineyards, in the following words: "The labour of the foolish wearieth every one of them, because he knoweth not how to go to this city," Eccl. x. 15. And their portion is cursed in the earth, who behold not the way of this vineyard, Job xxiv. 18. Consider what I say, and the Lord give thee understanding in all things. Follow not these, lest thou learn their ways, and get a snare to thy soul.
The devil never does more mischief than when he gets into a pulpit, with a grave countenance, a large wig, pompous speech, and subtle oratory; when he feels for the soft passions and unsanctified affections of fallen nature; tickling them with magic art, and calling for a few crocodile tears, which can never take away sin: when he calls the real joys of saints levity, and the operations of the Spirit enthusiasm: when holiness is made to consist in nothing but outward show, and a decent carriage; when the name Jesus is only brought forth just to serve a base purpose, and then dashed from the mind and memory of the audience by a long conclusion and application of dry morality. This is Satan transformed, and such are his transformed ministers, 2 Cor. xi. 14, 15.
Satan beguiled Eve by a serpent; and such scribes are called, by the Saviour, serpents and vipers, because Satan used them for the same purpose of beguiling unstable souls.
Thou art warranted to "go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge," Prov. xiv. 7. Wisdom will ever be justified of her children; but a vile person is to be contemned by every citizen of Zion.
The preacher that hath not the doctrine of Christ, hath not God, let him be who he will. It is an honour to withdraw from, yea, to be cut off and cast out of any church, when the preacher and the congregation have done with Christ, if the person withdraws, or is dismissed, with a good conscience. Jesus never revealed himself, as the son of God, to the blind man restored, till he heard that the Rabbis had cast him out. Many, in our days, who could find no rest in a dwindling congregation, nor any peace under a declining and degenerating ministry, have been comfortably received, as sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty, when they have been separated, and come out from among them. The ministry that does not stir the soul up, settles it on the lees. If it does not enlighten you, it will blind you; if it doth not establish, it will stagger you; if it doth not enrich you, it will beggar you; if it doth not reveal Christ, it will obscure and hide him; if it gathers not to him, it will scatter from him; if it doth not quicken, it will deaden the soul. An uninspired preacher can be of no use to a starving soul, nor to a living soul; he cannot describe the case of the former, nor break the bread of life to the latter; I long sought relief from these, but all in vain. He must be a star in the Lord's right hand that guides the benighted sinner into wisdom's ways. The ministry of the Letter can do no less than kill; it is the ministry of the Spirit that giveth life. The good Lord direct thee! So prays,