Epistles of Faith
William Huntington (1745-1813)TO THE REV. MR. HUNTINGTON
My dear Friend,
I CONCEIVE it will give you no small degree of pleasure to hear how God has honoured his servant, and given testimony to the word of his grace during your late blessed visit to us in the Isle of Ely. I therefore take the earliest opportunity to inform you that the good Lord has, through your instrumentality, been pleased to deliver from sore bondage the poor man that you saw at work in our garden. He came this morning to acquaint me of the glorious liberty that God has proclaimed to him while under the word; and also of the love and peace that he has enjoyed since you left us. For he told me that he was as sure that he should be saved, as that there is a God, and repeated it several times: and added, Nor shall all the devils in hell ever prevent it." He said he should have cause to bless you to the day of his death, let it come when it may. He is so fully persuaded of this, that he has not one doubt but he shall die in the joys of a good hope. At the beginning of his distress he occasionally heard at Downham Meeting; but after Mr. Jenkins had been amongst us the former took on himself to burlesque the discourses of the latter, at which this poor man was so disgusted that he never went again: they that fear God shall come forth of them all. He says he was first raised to hope under yon, and has frequently been much indulged and encouraged while hearing the word; but as soon as you had finished the discourse all was gone. He tells me be has suffered deeply in his soul of late, and had concluded, before you came down, that it was impossible for God himself to save a sinner so vile as he found himself to be: he says, his troubles at times were such, that he thought he could not live, yet he knew that, if he died in the state that he was then in, he should most certainly be damned. But, as soon as ever you opened your mouth in prayer, he declares that he felt such comfort flow into his heart as he cannot describe. In short, he declares, you asked for every thing that he wanted, and when you preached the word came with such amazing power and consolation into his soul, that it cast out all fear, and all torment. This was on the Sunday morning at Downham. He is now sitting by me while I am writing this; he came to me late last night, and again this morning, between five and six o'clock. He desires me to give his kind love to his dear father in Christ Jesus, for such, he says, he knows you to be; and begs to be favoured with an interest in your prayers; and if you would condescend to favour him with a few lines, he shall esteem it a peculiar favour: for he says, he knows you have begotten him in the bonds of the gospel; and such a love does he feel to you that he shall never be able to express. His name is Waddelow Stevens; he desired me to say that he is now in the thirtieth year of his age. He told me this morning that he had some conversation with his wife last night, and he is in hope that God has not forgotten her, as she is far from being at ease in Zion. He is a very simple, honest man; both myself and Mr. M. have long entertained a favourable opinion of him; but, being a man of very few words, and having never once opened his mouth before to us on a religious subject, we were the more surprised to hear this glorious account. He tells us that he should have come to you before you left Downham; but, as he knew the liberality of your heart, he dared not. He says, that he shall have cause to bless you as long as he is in the world; and, let his end come whenever it may, he is fully persuaded, and that without one doubt, that he shall end his days in peace. He says, he thinks, if possible, that his comforts have increased more and more ever since you left us; yea, he declares that heaven itself cannot afford more consolation than what he now feels. He says, that he wishes he could write; he has sufficient matter for an endless epistle. God's goodness to this poor man has provoked some to jealousy; nor can I say, that I am altogether without heat from this flame; for, although I know it is better than life itself o have a good hope through grace, yet I want also to be favoured with the fullness of that love that casteth out all fear. For, let me be favoured with what encouragement I may while hearing, I cannot retain it. I remember, two years since, you told me to watch the good hand of God, for you said you had no doubt but I should soon hear of some poor souls to whom the word would be made a blessing. Last year Mrs. Etches escaped the dismal regions, and Mrs. Few found the door if hope. And this year, this poor man has been favoured with a sweet sound from the jubilee trumpet. The former I rejoiced at; nor could I refrain from tears at hearing the latter: but I will leave you to judge of my feelings, when the contested prize of the bosom is possessed by another, which is what I have so long and so earnestly sought. But in this I fail not: I always beg of God to let his word run and be glorified whenever you come down among us. But can I be wrong if I covet earnestly the best gifts for my own soul?
Adieu, my ever dear, my valuable, and ever blessed friend accept my most unfeigned and most fervent love yourself; tended the same to my dear Lady S.; and, with kind remembrance to all friends at Cricklewood, conclude me, in the best of bonds, ever
Yours most affectionately,