Epistles of Faith
William Huntington (1745-1813)TO MR. CHAMBERLAIN, LEICESTER.
My dear Son in the faith of our common Lord, grace arid peace be with thee through Him.
I SET off to go to Kent on the 4th day of this month, and did not return till yesterday, the 12th; of course I saw neither of your Letters until I came home. The first I opened mentioned your sister's departure, which was no more than what I expected, and yet it was very affecting to me, and so it was to all in my house, who heard the Letters read. But I must tell you, that the unction that anointed her to her burial spread its odour far from Leicester; for Mr. B. Cort having mentioned that your sister's happiness had provoked some to jealousy, and that T. Barston was gone off in those flames to Grantham, upon reading thereof these words came into my mind, "But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst thou not agree with me for a penny?" Matt. xx. 13.
From that time the parable of the labourers in the vineyard hung upon my mind; and although I was (as I thought) furnished with a message for the Lord's day at Cranbrook, yet this continuing to open more and more to my view, my other text withdrew into the back ground, vanished, and went out of sight, and left the above passage uppermost upon my mind, nearest to my heart, and shining brighter and brighter upon my understanding; so that I spoke from it for the first time at Cranbrook; and I think I was right in so doing, for his presence was with me; and I believe that I was little less than three hours in the pulpit; and, finding my cruse not empty, in the afternoon I took it again, and was in my pulpit full two hours more. I shall say no more upon -this subject, as many of the brethren at Cranbrook wish me to print the discourses; and, if God permit, and enable me, I intend to comply with their request.
My dear friend is not ignorant of the poor man who was the means of building that place at Newark, and of the dismal end h made; and yet you yourself, and your dear departed sister also were both begotten to a lively hope, and received the first live cog from the altar of burnt-offering in that place; nor have I single doubt, but it will be said when the Lord writeth up the people, that Joseph and Mary Chamberlain were born there, Psalm lxxxvii. 5, 6. God will work, and who shall let it?
The contents of yours filled me with grief mingled with joy; I was joyful at seeing the divine dexterity she manifested in carrying on the thread of discourse, and adding her consistent links to the golden chain, upon every hint dropped; which spewed how richly the word of God dwelt in her, in all knowledge, in all utterance, and spiritual understanding. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings God ordains strength, to perfect praise, because of his enemies, that he may still the enemy and the avenger; for when the Spirit bears his testimony, Satan is put to silence, being rebuked by the sinner's Advocate when the brand is plucked from the fire. The ministry of the Spirit is not ceased; the gospel is still the power of God to salvation.
My dear son has seen in his sister, even when the outward man was half dead, the life, the vigour, the vivacity, activity, and spirituality of the hidden man of the heart; how agile, how angelic, even when on the verge of eternity; but the soul feels the rays and joys of eternal day. And, if the incorruptible seed seems so pregnant with heavenly treasure and divine fullness when only drawing near to perfection, and before it is unclothed with the body of death, what must it be, and what mast it feel, when the shrouds, hoods, and veils, are put off for good and all! The Holy Spirit and his train of grace; the heavenly light and life, which are the quintessence of faith; and glory, which is the soul of hope: and the divine power, which has been our support in much patience; and love, which is our holiness; and joy, which is the flame of love's fire; and peace, which is the calm of heaven, and which is now the end of all war, and will be in future the end of all trouble; and rest, which is the labouring man's home, his bed, his paradise; and the best robe, Zion's bridal attire; and a fullness of God, of the knowledge of God, and of the enjoyment of Him; which puts an end to the craving appetite, so as there will be no more longing, desiring, hungering, nor thirsting; and of course, no more begging, sorrowing, nor crying. The fruits of the Spirit are the believer's secret treasure, the good and perfect gifts from the Father of lights, the incorruptible seed of the second Adam, the blessings of the better covenant, the empire of all-conquering grace, and the kingdom of God in obscurity. All this treasure your sister took with her; she left nothing but the body, consisting of earth and water; and when the soul departed from that, then the blood chilled, and the whole infernal crop of lust and corruption that moment died, and every evil thought of it, and evil thought from it, in that very day perished; you heard the Holy Spirit speak by her, you felt the force and smelt the sweet savour of celestial eloquence, which is the language of paradise; every grace had a voice, but assurance and love were the chief speakers.
All the powers of the soul, regenerated and renewed, proclaimed their happy state, blessed readiness, and undoubted expectation. The will in sweet resignation; the busy mind lively and heavenly; the understanding sweetly illuminated; the judgment clear, sound, and at a certainty; the conscience placid, serene, and at rest; the affections glowing and flaming with the hallowed fire reflected from the sun of righteousness, while the ministering angels stood listening, and learning from the departing saint the manifold wisdom of God, Eph. iii. 10; and they watch and wait on the Holy Spirit, and on his possession, to carry the soul into the blessed enjoyment of God's eternal love, which is the bosom of Abraham, and of all his seed. Thus departs the heaven-born soul, enrobed with it's wedding-garment, decked and adorned with every needful grace; furnished with all essential truth, anointed with the oil of joy, and perfumed with the odour of the grand oblation: this is the death of the righteous, and this is the bride adorned for her husband.
Now, if my dear son considers these few scraps that I have written, the soul departed in its regenerate and renewed state, and with all the divine endowments of its mental powers; the wedding robe of the Saviour on it, and the Holy Spirit and his work in it; the canopy of atoning blood over it, and every grace in vigour and lively exercise, reigning through righteousness to eternal life, and just ready to blaze forth in eternal glory; there is little room left for grief. Your sister can laugh, think, talk, sing, rejoice, exult, and triumph even now, better than ever she could. Moses on the mount of transfiguration could talk, though without a body, as well as Elijah who had one, so that Peter and John could hear them and understand what they said, for they snake of Christ's decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem, Luke xi. 31. We shall be as the angels of God; and though they are spirits, yet they talk and sing too, Luke ii. 13.
Your sister's remains are still with us, and it is but a small part that she has left behind; and it is the will of God that no part of his saints, which are the work of God's own hands, should be lost; no, there shall not an hair of their head perish, for these are all numbered. Sin, which is the work of the devil, shall be destroyed, for Christ was manifest in the flesh to do this. But as for the body, that is left to rest in hope till the angel's trump, and the voice of the Son of God shall awaken it; then it shall be quickened, and be brought up again from the depths of the earth, Psalm lxxi. 20. The same Spirit that comforted her at her departure, shall quicken her mortal body, and change it, and fashion it like unto the glorious body of Christ, and as such re-unite it to the departed soul; so that Christ will lose no part of his purchased possession. The Lord is ascended far above all heavens, that he might fill all things, Eph. iv. 10. Grace is our treasure, but in this life there is not one grace that has a perfect fullness in it; there is a deficiency, a something wanting in every one; and hence proceeds our hungerings and thirstings after more light, more life, more knowledge, more love, more joy, &c.; for none of these in our present state are full; but, "The pure in heart shall see God" This will be the beatific vision, and it will be an assimilating one, transforming us into the image of the second Adam; and then we shall confess that the following, as well as every other truth, is settled in heaven. "I lead in the way of righteousness, that I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures," Prov. viii. 20, 21. And this every heaven-born soul feels, which finishes its course with joy, for God shines resplendent upon it, which is, " the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ," 2 Cor. iv. 6. Unbeclouded light, unchangeable love, and the fullness of joy in their perfection, are peculiar to the higher world. Hence, when the soul is indulged with God's smiling presence at its departure, it struggles to quit the body of death, and the obscuring veil of ignorance, dreading the dismal gloom, and the returning works and warrings of inbred corruption. And, if our graces of love, hope, and joy, even in this life, are admitted within the veil, we need not wonder at their superabounding life and vigour, when on the verge of their native country, and when animated with the glories of their own climate.
My dear friend, adieu! The good Lord furnish thee with patience and submission to his sovereign will and pleasure in this separation. And I do most sincerely bless, praise, and adore my most benign, reverend, and revered Father-in Christ, for his great condescension in making use of so mean and so despicable an instrument as myself to be an ambassador of salvation and peace, both to her and to you. To God only wise be glory in the church by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end, Amen and Amen.
W.H. S. S.