Epistles of Faith

Letter LXVII

William Huntington (1745-1813)


Dear Sir,

I YESTERDAY, with two friends, visited a poor woman, who heard you for the first time about seven or eight years since; she through illness has now been confined to her bed ever since August last; we found her scarce able to speak three words together, she is in so weak a state; but after we had been with her a little time she seemed to revive. She said she had not that enjoyment of God that she wished, but trusted he would shine upon her again before she left this world. I said a few words to her, and though attended with great weakness of body, she said she believed her calling was of God, and that it would be of no other; for if what she had heard you preach was true, it must be so. She told us that for nine or ten years she laboured under bondage to the fear of death, miserable through the guilt of sin which she felt in her conscience, and knew no way but that way that seems right to man; in which she could not succeed so as to get rid of her trouble. At length, after many and various workings of heart, these words came to her mind; "If the Lord had meant. to destroy us, he would not have shewed us such things as these;" this gave her encouragement, but the power was soon gone, only after this she was led to see the suitableness of the Saviour to one in her condition, and his all-sufficiency, attended with earnest longings for an interest in him: here she laboured, sometimes it was as if faith would lay hold of him and bring him in, but then beat off and down she went; she said it was from October till the May following she event on in this way, before her deliverance came. Her husband at that time was at his work all the week from home, and one night as she was sitting up late reading beside her bed she felt uncommon power; she went to bed, but her sensations were such she got up again, and after she was up it was as if the Saviour spoke these words: "I have given full satisfaction for all thy sins." She felt the application of his death for her sins, which filled her with joy and real repentance; she said she then knew what repentance was, and if all the world felt as she then did they would love him too. She joined the Baptist church at S.; which place she attended for some time, but there fell into her hands some of your books, and among others was, "The Kingdom of Heaven taken by Prayer;" when she got hold of this she read it through the first night, and left it not. She sometimes in reading it wept, and at other times rejoiced and praised God for you, as one raised up to give such a description of things in it as so suited her. By reading your books she reaped much benefit; but the church she belonged to was by no means friendly to you; they laboured to blacken you as much as they could; however, she heard of your coming to Cranbrook, and was determined to hear for herself, and before she came begged of God to settle the debate they had caused in her mind. You preached from these words, "Blessed are they which are called to the marriage-supper of the Lamb;" your very naming the words moved all the powers of her soul, and when you described the calling, &c. she went on with you, and was fed most sweetly. She came to hear you every time; the last night her clothes was half-way bedabbled with mud, but though a weak woman she said it did not hurt her; she was glad enough to find one to cast up the highway and remove the stumbling-blocks, which she had found none besides to do. The alarm was soon spread in their camp at S. about this woman's running away to hear Mr. Huntington, and a female of a fierce countenance soon found the way to her house, though near four miles off, to inquire of so dangerous a business as going to hear you. This poor woman seeing her coming, and guessing her business, went and begged of God to give her wisdom and strength to defend his truth she had heard from you. This female soon turned into a father confessor, saying, So you have been to hear Mr. Huntington? Yes, replied the woman, I have. I hear, says the other, you are become quite a traveller after him, and that you went every night; I think enough to kill such a one as you. She told her the journeys did her no harm. Says the other, Well, you did not hear Christ preached. Yes, says the poor woman, I did, and as I never heard him preached before. Why, says the other, he preaches himself, he preaches his own experience. That is what he should preach, replied the woman. Many grievous charges she brought against you, but this poor creature foiled her in all; one was, you said the place was full of hypocrites. The woman said, he did not call me one, nor did his doctrine condemn me for one, for she found it agree-with the Bible and God's work on her heart. Her strength seemed to increase when she told us these things, and a warmth attended her, accompanied with frequent smiles, though such a poor object. She said she never heard faith preached till she heard you. We left her with great satisfaction, and I thought I would send you the account for your satisfaction also. I this morning received yours, and thank you kindly. God will exalt your head above all your enemies round about.

I remain,

Your affectionate friend,