Epistles of Faith
William Huntington (1745-1813)TO MRS. M
My dear Friend,
I HAVE lately bad a violent cough and cold, and strove hard to break through it for a fortnight, but all in vain, for I was at last obliged to lay by ten days, and I am now purely, blessed be God for it. The outward man decays, as Paul says, but the inward man, the hidden man of the heart decays not; some one feature, trait, or member of him is still left, felt, and perceived; for if faith lay dormant, if patience is tired out, if meekness is dried up, and hardness of heart follows; if love is waxed cold, and humility is fled, yet hope remains; and if this should appear to give way, and darkness to our view seem to succeed, yet if we get into company with foolish virgins, in their glass we shine bright and glorious. And this heavenly ray is the eye of the new man, for the new man is renewed in knowledge; and this renewing makes the path shine more and more unto perfect day. O! Girl, every member of this new man is worth more than a million worlds. Christ knows his own image, and every appearance of it; "That which is born of the Spirit is Spirit;" and every grace is a good thing toward the Lord God of Israel; and though at times all joy is darkened and all peace and comfort fled, so that bitterness and misery, Satan and corruption, come in and rise up like a flood, yet there is something left even then, and that is life; for the appetite is keen, the soul hungers and thirsts after the bread and water of life, and after the enjoyment of the living God; and longs after the word of life, and after the means of grace. And although lusts and corruptions, pleasures and vanities, and the felicity of careless worldings, are by Satan extolled, magnified and set before us even in all their glittering and gaudy show, so as to make us envious at the foolish, and at the prosperity of the wicked, yet even this is not preferred before the bitter cup of affliction; the soul says then, with pious Job "The things that my soul refused to touch, are as my sorrowful meat," Job vi. 7; for although this was all that was set before him, yet it was not the bread of life which strengthens man's heart, and feeds the new man; but it was meat of sorrows to Job or sorrowful meat, though not such to the fool, for he feeds upon foolishness. Two things, you see, remain even in the worst of times, knowledge of sinful self, and divine life, which makes us long for spiritual provision; and, "This," says David, "is my comfort in my affliction, for thy word hath quickened me." Furthermore, when all evidences seem to be obscured, weak, and ready to die, yet one is sure to escape the common rout when all the seed royal seem to be hid, and that is love to the brethren; and we know that we are passed from death unto life because of this; and although at times the devil lays hard even at this, and fills us with jealousy at them, and sets us to envy them, yet even then this evidence is not destroyed; for as soon as ever we see they are sunk down into the pit, we labour with all our might to pull them out, strengthen them, and set them upon their legs again; so we do not aim at their ruin, only to keep them from running too fast, that they may not get before us, which at most is Jacob-like, holding them by the heel. There is a blessing on them whom the Lord hath made rulers over his household, to give them a portion of meat in due season; and I am fully, persuaded that this basket of fragments came from the Lord, and that some of the crumbs will suit Mary, even if the sleepy devil be still upon her; for the body sleeps, but the conscience does not. `1 I sleep, but my heart waketh; it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh;" conscience was awake, and the knowledge of her beloved's voice was still with her. God's blessing attend this, and my poor prayers shall follow it.