Epistles of Faith
William Huntington (1745-1813)TO W. B.F.Dear Sir,
THERE is such a thing among mankind as natural confidence; "The fool rageth, and is confident," Prov. xiv. 16; and you may call it faith, for such do for a while believe, Luke viii. 13. This is no more than a natural assent given upon a natural conviction to the truth of any testimony delivered, reason itself being utterly unable to contradict it. Upon this natural confidence Satan often ingrafts presumption, especially upon the minds of graceless ambassadors: this is done to imitate the grace of assurance, that such characters may appear to be officers of the first magnitude. for the serpent's seed are all great. Under the law they were all prophets, in the apostles' days they were apostles, in our clays we have nothing less than evangelists; we hear of few pastors; teachers, or helps among them; but natural faith has no inward anointing to guide it; the light of nature is its only guide; and what reason comprehends natural confidence may embrace; but of this be assured, that divine mysteries require spiritual faith, faith which is the gift of God, the produce of the Holy Ghost, and which is therefore called faith of the operation of God, Coloss. ii. 12. The doctrine of the holy Trinity is as fully revealed as any other doctrine, of the gospel; we are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; and these are not bare names, for they each bear record in heaven, even record of the eternal sonship of Christ Jesus. And they are three distinct living witnesses, which nothing but intelligent persons can be, according to the law of God; "It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me, beareth witness of me," John viii. 17, 18; "And it is the Spirit that beareth witness," 1 John v. 6. If ever our hearts be truly comforted, or if knit together in love; or if we ever obtain the riches of the full assurance of understanding, it must be by humble acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ, Coloss. ii. 2. The gospel is preached to us that we may have fellowship with the Father and with the Son, 1 John i. 3; and fellowship with the Holy Ghost also, Philip. ii. 1. He that loveth dwelleth in God and God in him; this is coming to God the judge of all, Heb. xii. 23. He that comes to Christ by faith, obtains the forgiveness of sins, pardon, peace, and reconciliation; and this is coming to Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel, Heb. xii. 24. And the Holy Ghost cries "Abba, Father," and bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. The faith which is of the operation of God believes this mystery; and this mystery is held in a pure conscience, 1 Tim. iii. 9; and the word of God, and my own experience will beat me out, when I say that faith embraces each of the above things distinctly. Faith embraces the love of the Father, "We have believed the love that God hath to us," 1 John iv. 16; and it receives the atonement of Christ, Rom. v. 11; and, "We receive the promise of the Spirit through faith," Gal. iii. 14. No child of God in his right mind will ever part with these things. The pardoning grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, are too precious to the heaven-born soul ever to be relinquished; nor shall any young man ever cleanse his way according to God's word, that denies things so essential as these. Your friend's confidence is no more than what is natural, and it holds what blind reason car comprehend; but he must stumble, and take offence at, more than half of the New Testament. I have known several in these opinions, and they all appeared to me to be wise indeed, boll, daring, confident, and very conceited; but they did not go out of the world so; their confidence gave way when it was most needed and they saw their mistake; and so will your acquaintance, for there is no lie of the truth, nor will the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem be open to him that loves a lie, or that makes one.
None can guide thee in these things but the Holy Spirit; and you must commit your way to God by constant prayer before your thoughts can be established.
W. H. S. S.