Epistles of Faith
William Huntington (1745-1813)TO MR. B.
SATAN, sin, and death have got their allies in our depraved nature (this I know by woful experience); namely, corrupt affections, carnal enmity, and unbelief; and there are darkness and death in all these: but there are charity, a sound mind, and faith also, and these are from above, and there are light and life in all these. The workings of these I have long observed, and find in heavy and sharp conflicts, much darkness and confusion, much hastiness of spirit and heat of temper, and so much impatience, that I am quite bewildered and confounded; and here I lose sight of every grace, and even in prayer I often observe that there is no going forth either in faith, hope, or love, all appear to be inactive, and at this time I have often wondered that they should lay dormant when their exercises are so much wanted; but this arises from my ignorance. These are not idle or inactive, but abide at home on certain occasions, to prop up the heart and fix that, that it may not sink too low; "Perplexed, but not in despair," 2 Cor. iv. 8. You read of being strengthened by the Spirit's might in the inward man. Faith stands not in man's wisdom, but in God's power, and by that power are we kept through faith; and if we abound in hope, it is by the power of the Holy Ghost. The Spirit's might is our strength, and this is made perfect and all-sufficient in our weakness; and this power is put forth in the inward man, it works in faith and in hope, so that neither of these may be borne down, fail, or be overcome, which must not be, for, "Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world." And this I have often observed, that when the temptation has been so sharp as to make me faint, yea almost to cast away my confidence and to conclude that all is lost, and that it is in vain to resist any longer, even then I have found a firmness in the mind and conscience that would not subscribe to any one of my articles of capitulation; and this I know, that there is not the sting of unpardoned sin, nor the shame of unpurged guilt, nor the arrows of unappeased wrath, nor the curses of a broken law, nor the dread of future judgment in all these conflicts; but the thoughts of breaking the bounds, by discharging the contents of the heart, and of being plunged into the great transgression, make" one tremble; for at such times the feet are almost gone, the steps well nigh slip; almost, but not altogether; well nigh, but not quite. I am writing to one that will understand me when I say, that at such times the sin unto death is conceived, and Satan labours hard to bring it forth, yet grace is not an idle spectator in these conflicts. Faith holds her own, and hope expects deliverance, and we are not disappointed; and when the conflict is over faith ventures abroad in prayer, hope waits the returns, and love furnishes the heart with gratitude to acknowledge the saving benefits: and these all work best when the dross is purged off; human resolutions and determinations are like Samson's shaking himself, and poor Peter's vows, they only clog the wheels at best. This furnace work is to make us sound in faith; sinless perfection, free will, self-righteousness, universal grace, and universal redemption cannot stand or live here; a creature saviour and human confidence in him, are of no use in this fire. So I write, and so you believe.
W. H. S. S.