Epistles of Faith
William Huntington (1745-1813)TO THE REV. MR. HUNTINGTON.
My dearly beloved Mr. II.,
I AM come, I hope, to tell you some good news, though it may be in a poor, broken, obscure way of expressing it to you; it is about a little one, a sister of mine, who is just departed in the joy and happiness of the Lord Jesus Christ. She was married and settled in a very dark place between Croydon and Ryegate, near Smithambottom, in Surrey; her husband is a little farmer; they had been married seven years, in which time I have often frequented their house, and what was the reason the Lord only knows, for I could not stay away long together, I found such a longing desire after my sister's soul's good, so that when religion was talked about, or any mention was made of going to church, they would ask me to go with them, but I used to refuse, and give my reasons for it, and told them I belonged to the church of Christ, and that the members of the church of Christ, and those of the church of England widely differed, fur one had the form, the other the power; so it passed on for two years. I dropped a word now and then by the way, and read the Bible to her, and then I began to open your books to her, and read them also. I first began with your "Kingdom of Heaven taken by Prayer," and in that part where God cut up all your formal church worship, the Lord was pleased to lay his axe to the root, and down she went; all her self-righteousness gave way sooner than usual. She sent me a Letter, saying, "Dear brother, you must come down, for I want to see you very particularly." This is now five years ago. I went down; she told me she thought she should be lost, and said that the whole world laid in wickedness, and in the wicked one; and, said, "I am very ill, and I think I shall die: I am so harassed with the fear of death, that I cannot lie down in my bed for fear of dying;" and she told me that she had been harassed with the fear of death, at times, ever since she was a little child. I was glad to hear all this; my mouth was opened to her wide, and was never shut again, except when deadness crept in betwixt us; no, not till Christ was formed in her the hope of glory, and that was on her death-bed. The next book that was blessed to her was your "Portion to Seven and also to Eight," where you are speaking of the creature being made subject to vanity; the Lord was pleased here to deliver her in some measure from the fear of death, and raised her to hope; and so for these five years she has gone on in a poor, feeble, and broken way. Her husband was a sore enemy to her in the ways of God, being ignorant of these things; and yet I have stood astonished to see how wise the devil made him to plot and stop the knowledge of Christ from coming into her heart. She wanted for a long time to come and bear you, which at last we accomplished: I was to drive her home to my house, and her husband was to come the next day; and it being Sunday, she came trudging off with me to hear you, where she was much comforted by the word. We returned to Hammersmith to dinner; when we got home her husband was there first, and he was storming like a madman because he found we had outwitted him, and afterwards was so sulky that he would not eat any dinner. I could not help laughing in myself to think we had forestalled the devil's market. She has been twice since to hear you in the same way; and now five weeks ago on Friday last she was brought to bed with her third child, and my wife was with bet till she died. Last ordinance day I was at Providence chapel; when I got home at six o'clock, I learnt there had been a man on horseback inquiring for me, but could not find me; he left a message that my sister was dying, and I must go down directly to her. I went down in the night: when I arrived they told me she had been insensible for two days, and cried out at times to fetch her. brother: "Why don't you let him come up stairs? I know he is here, I can hear his voice." I got there at two o'clock on the Monday morning; I then found her better; she knew me, and began to tell me where she had been during her insensibility: she said she thought she had been in hell, anti that she felt the flames of hell burning in her body: she toll me that she had said in her heart she had sought the Lord earnestly, and though but in a poor feeble way, yet it was agreeably to his word, and if she was lost, she was lost; she was determined to pursue him in that way if she perished. That very moment her whole frame of body changed, and all pain left her, and light, life, love, and joy flowed into her soul while I was present. She sent for her husband up stairs and gave it him sharply, and what with his conscience and her. flogging made him bellow like a bull; she talked to the rector and curate of the parish till they could not hold up their heads, nor speak before her face; they were glad to get away. She set her house in order, gave my wife her child, told her she should be its mother, and she hoped I would be good to it; I told her I hoped the Lord would enable me to be so: she continued until Wednesday evening, and then went off singing, and told my wife to sing with her; my wife said, " What shall I sing?" She replied, "Sing holy, holy, Lord God, hallelujah. praise ye the Lord," and died. She desired me to write these things to you.
Yours in the truth,