Epistles of Faith

Letter LXIII

William Huntington (1745-1813)


The Cabin, on board the Providence, outward bound, at Sea, under sail, the wind at south-west, bound for the friendly islands, and the fair havens, by the Cape of Good Hope.

ONE Of the crew, through grace an able seaman, is sick; laid aside by the Captain's orders for the sake of overhauling the rigging, examining the log book, pumping the vessel, and casting out some part of the burthen, in order to lighten the ship, that she may combat the waves with more plank above water. The scurvy and leprosy much attend the crew in these climates; bitter herbs are profitable, but not palatable; they strengthen the stomach, help digestion, and promote appetite, and make the roast Lamb taste the sweeter. Keep at sea; there is no haven in those climates commodious to winter in; expect the wind Euroclydon, the north; after proceeds the south: the former chills, hardens, and makes us tremble, but the effects of the latter in their melting and soul-dissolving influence appears the more conspicuous. Abide in the ship, for there shall not an hair fall from thy head; nevertheless thou wilt fall into a certain place called great strait, where two seas meet, the troubled ocean of inbred corruption, and the flood of infernal rage; and here it is hard work to come by the boat: this is attended with a tempest that often lies on us, and at which time neither sun, moon, nor stars appear, as we think, though our sun never goes down, nor does our moon withdraw itself; the whole eclipse is upon our eyes, and not upon the ordinances of heaven. If the ship labours. much it will not be amiss to undergird her, lash her with the girdle of truth; this will keep her sides together; she can never bile, reel, nor wreck, if truth be her cordage; and it is experience that makes her cordage cleave and stick fast. Wonder not if she appears for a time ungovernable, and should not answer her helm, "For the things that I would not that do I;" keep the soldiers on board, let none of them flee out under colour; faith, patience, meekness, submission, resignation, humiliation, self-abasement, &c., for unless these abide in the ship you cannot be saved. Sailing is dangerous, for the fast. is already past; at such seasons the wind varies, and every gale is contrary, and will be so till we can refit and recruit at another festival; "Bread shall be given them; their waters shall be sure." Sound often, and observe the soundings; when all is purged away you will find a clear bottom, and an anchorage within the veil; and be sure to cast out with your own hands the tackling of the ship, for every one that proves his own work shall have joy in himself and not in another, Gal. vi. 4. Should the storm continue long, and every attempt fail, loose the rudder bands, strike sail, and let their drive; his power is made perfect (or all-sufficient,) in our weakness, 2 Cor. xii. 9. If no sail of love appears unfurled, confide in the love that is in him, and leave the charge of the vessel to him that gathers the wind in his fist, and rides upon the storm; he is the ship's owner, we ale not our own. As soon as over the wind abates cast anchor, and cast the first out at the stern; this must be the kedge anchor. Look back and see what he has done: he hath delivered, and we trust he will yet deliver; it is, experience, past experience, that worketh hope. But if she poll drive, let go the sheet anchor, hope in his truth; "Remember thy word unto thy servant, on which thou hast caused me to hope." this will not hold her, let go the small bower, hope in promised support, "As thy day, so shall thy strength be:" if this fail, and al1 hope of being saved is taken away, then cast out your best bower; "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God," through a mediator: this will fetch her up at fifteen fathoms of cable, and after this she will ride it out and ride easy.

Thy feeble soul will fear no more
Than solid rocks, when billows roar;
What I predict, in mighty faith,
Thou shaft not contradict in death.

W.H. S. S.

William Huntington