Epistles of Faith
William Huntington (1745-1813)TO MR. B., CRANBROOK.
My dear friend's sweet account of the poor woman came safe to hand, and I am thankful to God for his abundant grace. They that are the purchase of Christ's blood shall be the trophies of his victory. Our sovereign has no subjects that are truly loyal but those that he takes out of the hand of the Amorite, with his sword and with his bow; and all that the Lord employs in this work, or engages in this warfare, had need be good soldiers, and be furnished with all the armour of God: and even then we should despair of success, did not faith and experience inform us, that the Captain of our salvation is omnipotent. When the set time comes to favour any chosen vessel, how many encircling wheels of providence seem to be in motion without, and an army of fears gnu terrors within; the poor sinner's prejudices in favour of the traditions of his fathers, his bigotry and attachment to an outward form of godliness, his natural bias to the law of works for life and salvation, are all stirred up; his corruptions make head against him; his carnal enmity runs high, and the instrument appointed to be used is sure to be loaded with calumny; evil angels muster all their wiles, friends and relations bear their part; but the worst engines of mischief in this opposition, are those that stand high in a profession, and yet destitute of the Holy Ghost, and enemies to his divine power: these are the briers and thorns which are set in battle array against the Lord, but he will go through them and burn them altogether. What little success I have had has succeeded against all these oppositions and entanglements, which serves to make the almighty power of Christ the more manifest. God will work, and who shall let it? The wise woman's charge is well founded; if preaching my own experience be preaching myself, she is right. There are but two ways of obtaining the word of God, the first is by receiving it from God as a free gift, the other way is by stealing it; what God gives is what he promised to us in Christ Jesus As for me. this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord, My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord," Isaiah lix. 21. Agreeably to this did our faithful and true witness deal with his disciples, when he says, "I have given them the words which thou gavest me, and they have received them," John xvii. 8; and he bid them wait till he should send upon them the promise of the Father, which is the Holy Ghost; this also God gave to them that obeyed him. This was the treasure that the Lord put into the hearts of his disciples, and this good treasure they brought forth out of their own hearts, in order to enrich others, telling them that they should receive the gift of the Holy Ghost; "For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call," Acts ii. 39. The other way of obtaining the word is by sacrilege; "Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbour," Jerem. xxiii. 30; such may steal the word, but they cannot steal the Spirit, and therefore can obtain no more than Judas and Simon Magus did, namely, part of this ministry: for as to the Holy Ghost they have no part nor lot in that matter. Such labourers as these cannot preach themselves as interested in Christ, in the way that Paul did, when he tells us, I am not an apostle of man, nor by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead. "The commandment came, and sin revived, and I died; for sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me." Christ's light shined round about me; "they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid, but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me." "The gospel preached of me is not after man, for I neither received it of man, neither was: taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." "It pleased God to reveal his Son in me, that I should preach him among the Gentiles." "Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel." "Christ loved me, and gave himself for me And the grace of our Lord was abundant upon me with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus." "Christ was seen of James, then of the apostles, and he was seen of me also." "I through the law am dead to the law that I might live unto God; I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God." Thus Paul preached that which was his own, what God had given to him; "We have this treasure," says ''Paul, "in earthen vessels." "For I have received of the Lord, that which also I delivered unto you," 1 Cor. xi. 23; and we know that, "A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven," John iii. 27. Paul certainly did preach himself, as having his part and lot in all the treasure that he brought forth; and blessed be God there are a few even in Sardis, that can say the same things as Paul did, and with the same application to them selves, without being called liars, either by God, scripture, or conscience; and nothing can be a surer confirmation of this than the seal of God. He must be sealed himself whom God uses and honours in sealing others. The Holy Ghost is this seal, which assures the converted soul, and impresses God's image upon it; when it is renewed by the Holy Ghost, the forgiveness of sins, the sentence of justification, and the everlasting love of God shed abroad in the heart, are the blessed and joyful fruits and effects of this seal: "The seals of my apostleship are ye in the Lord," says Paul. We are made manifest in the consciences of such, and such souls are in our hearts to live and die with them, being bound up in the bond of one and the same covenant with ourselves. These are the brethren that will dwell together in unity, in spite of Satan and all his wiles; but all other ties which originate in nature, and which are strengthened by visiting and gadding from house to house, will soon dissolve, and such brethren will become the worst of enemies; for, "Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted," whether it be in Christ by temporary faith, or whether it be in the house of God by profession, or however deeply rooted in the natural affections of the saints, " it shall be rooted up;" God will turn their hearts to hate his people, and to deal subtilely with his inheritance. So I have ever found it; so Paul found it, witness Demas, Alexander, Hymeneus, Philetus, &c. So I find it still, and so others shall find it who are engaged in the work of the Lord; and I doubt not but the time will come when you yourself will confess that this witness is true.
Yours in the best of bonds,