Epistles of Faith
William Huntington (1745-1813)TO ME. M.
Dearly beloved in the Lord Jesus,
I AM now coming to inquire after thy welfare, as the time is coming and now is when the poor invalids have their diseases and disorders, their asthmas and infirmities searched, tried, and examined by the winter damps, east and north winds, by the fogs and by the frosts; all of which are so many warnings and ejectments before the house of this tabernacle be untilled and dissolved; and when reduced to its original it will be raised up again, and clothed upon with our house which is from above. To prepare for this change, to lay lap a good foundation against that day, is the most important and the most weighty business that belongs to God's workmen, and to the workmanship of God in us; which is intended to quicken us, to animate us, and to give us spiritual affections for heavenly things, and living sensations that we may feel them, know them, be assured of the reality of them, live in the enjoyment of them, and be constrained to a loving and grateful acknowledgment of them. And these are intended to give us motion, that we may breathe, pant, and long after them, and move toward them as to our centre, our chief good, and our last end. The feet of the soul are faith and affection, these bear and move the soul as the feet do the body; hence the saint is said to stand, and to walk by faith, and to understand these footsteps called the footsteps of the flock; and what is meant by treading in the footsteps of the faith of our father Abraham? And what is meant by our feet slipping, and our steps being almost gone? it seems to me to be nothing else but faith staggering, and the mind desponding, and love giving way to carnal enmity, and the affections seeming to be alienated from God, as is and must be the case of all apostates who fall, not down, nor into trouble, nor from their first love, or from their own steadfastness, but who fall away. "He that believeth shall not make haste;" he cannot put forth his own faith into action, nor can all the thundering preachers drive it. Faith is the Holy Spirit's work, it is a fruit or grace of his own planting; the mind and the heart are the seat of it; the acts, exercises, and workings of it depend solely upon the operations of the most holy Spirit of God: hence faith moves by fresh discoveries, or rays of light; by different changes, feelings, or sensations; and under different operations; and acts and moves from one foot-hold to another, as God is pleased to visit us, or make any discoveries of his truth, or of himself to the soul. The sinner awakened, alarmed, and quickened by the Spirit, lays fast hold of the justice of God, his truth, holiness, and immutability, while faith by this view and this sense purifies the soul from that idol, I mean a God all mercy, which is a false and lying conception, unworthy of God, and dishonourable to him; but, when the mercy of God in Christ appears, and melts and softens the hardened mind into contrition and compliance, this produces repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ; upon this hope springs up, and a peaceable calm succeeds, which to the soul are the fruits and effects of righteousness, and of justification by it, for, "The righteousness of Christ is to all and upon all that believe." Next to this a reconciled Father is apprehended in Christ Jesus, and sonship is made manifest by faith, and upon this, love, in some degree or other, enlarges the heart; "We," says John, "have believed the love that God hath to us." By these experiences the steps of faith are taken just as enlargement with God in prayer, or refreshment from him in the means, or deliverances appear in trouble, or as encouraging promises are spoken, or as comfortable visits and indulgences are granted. I have run on at an odd rate, but you will excuse.
W H., S. S.