The History of Little Faith
William Huntington (1745-1813)
To the Weakly, Psalm, vi. 2. - Sickly, 1 Cor. xi. 30. - Halting, Psalm, xxxviii. 17. - Mourning, Isa. lxi. 3. - Faint, Prov. xxiv. l0. - Feeble, Psalm, xxxviii. 8. - and Fearful, Isa. xxxv. 4. - Fraternity of Zion; whether distinguished by the appellation of Lambs, John, xxi. 15. - Kids, Cant. i. 8. Children, 1 John, ii. 12. - Babes, 1 Pet. ii. 2. - Doves, Isa. lx. 8 - Conies, Prov. xxx. 26. - Or Ants, Prov. xxx. 25. - or whatever real or figurative name they may bear in the divine and endless genealogy - Their Friend and humble Servant sendeth, greeting - With perfect peace, and at such a time.
I HAVE long had a strong desire to publish some little Treatise that might (under the blessing of God) be of use to you. A sense of my own weakness, and the abounding accounts of the weak in faith that stand on record in Holy Writ, have prompted me to undertake a work of this sort. And, what added some fervour to my desires was, that I have read several productions, both ancient and modern, intended for this purpose, which are not pregnant with sound doctrine: the authors have wandered from the doctrines of Christ, and followed the weaklings into the corrupt principles of free-agency; and appear as far (in doctrine) from the basis of truth, as the weaklings from the Munition of Rocks; which, instead of bringing them off the old bottom, fixes them on it.
To keep back, or hide the truth from them, or to endeavour to confirm them on any basis short of Christ, is fixing them where there is no standing. Such founding and daubing must be plucked up, and pulled down, before ever the heart can be established. Job detected his friends and comforters at this, saying, then, comfort ye me in vain, seeing in your answers remaineth falsehood?" Job, xxi. 34. This is building up in instead of truth; and if either the foundation or the superstructure cannot stand the test of God's word, how will they stand rebukes with flames of fire! Some choose, not only to keep back, to speak lightly of, the doctrines of God's Election and nation, lest these things should frighten, terrify, or drive back; which is encouraging their rebellion against their Maker, instead of building them up on their most holy faith, by the faith of God's elect The Saviour told Little Faith, as well as the rest, to "rejoice because their names were written in Heaven;" and rejoiced in spirit before them, "because his heavenly Father had hid those things from the wise and prudent, and had revealed them unto babes:" and, as he calls them babes, it seems they were most, if not all, of little faith at that time. And Peter tells the new born babes, as well as others, to "make their calling and election sure; for if they did these things, should never fall." As the Saviour revealed these things as a matter of joy, and Peter as their security; what are those gentlemen at, who make them nothing but stumbling-blocks, or of offence? If this foundation of God standeth sure, having seal of God upon it, what assurance can such men administer and what divine impression can those expect, who are taught to ridicule these things, and are built upon a sandy foundation, where the ruin is sure to be great?
For my own part (and I speak from experience), I should not wonder if a professor thus misled, and thus hardened, should end his days in a mad-house, or perish by suicide. I know this been the case with many, who have waged war with the decrees and purposes of God, till they have been, in just judgment, given up to the devil, as Alexander the coppersmith, and Hymeneus, who withstood the truth till they were both delivered unto that they might learn not to blaspheme, 1 Tim. i. 20. As far as I am enlightened to see, I have endeavoured to keep close to the truth; for it is a pleasure to me, as well as it was to John, who rejoiced when he found that not only the elect lady, but "her children also, walked in the truth," 2 John, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
I was puzzled awhile what method to adopt in sending my thoughts among you, and various schemes were formed; till, at last, I fixed upon sending them out by way of dialogue, as the most intelligible mode; and to which I was encouraged by the Song of Solomon. The characters fixed upon to carry it on are - A Steward. of the Royal Household, and a Shepherd of the King's Flock; both which are Scriptural characters, and well known to the just.
I have been rather profuse with the word of God; knowing that weak souls, after their first awakening, proceed with great caution, and dare not venture without a divine warrant; being commanded to stand in awe, and to cleanse their way, by taking heed thereto according to God's word.
It is not expected that a work of this sort should be of any use to believers who are grown up and established in the present truth - "they that are men put away childish things" - unless they should be desirous of seeing a map of their travels, or of perusing a journal of their infant days, when they went in a go-cart.
There ever hath been, and will be, even to the end of time, some of the children of God who will be staggering at the promises, and going bowed down, through fear of miscarrying, coming short of the saints' rest, or failing of the grace of God. To such therefore it is dedicated, and for such it is intended; hoping that, as God hath commanded us "to strengthen the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees," it may please him to cast it in the way of many of them, and to bless the reading of it to their souls growth, comfort, and establishment.
Many are found in the simplicity and power of the Gospel who have very little light into the great things of it; and many have been enlightened to discover great things in the letter of it, who never knew the simplicity, nor felt the power thereof.
My intention, in this work, is not to humour LITTLE FAITH, nor to indulge him in his whims and fancies, nor to encourage his infidelity, nor to build him up in falsehood, much less to establish him in unbelief. What I aim at is, to shew him what is faith, and what is not; wherein he is right, and wherein he is wrong; what is justifiable in him, and what is reprehensible what he says of himself, and what God says of him; what God has done in him, and what may be expected to be done for him, according to the promise: and the difference between a babe in grace, and a fawning wolf; Little Faith, and a little fox; the sincerity of the one, and the infernal cunning of the other. One loves the truth, the other hates it; one trembles at the word, the other is hardened against it; one comes to the light, the other cleaves to darkness; one honours them that fear the Lord, and contemns the vile; the other hates the just, and speaks well of the false prophets - and in this is manifested the children of God and the children of the Devil.
There is some milk, Reader, and some strong meat; some good thing toward the Lord God of Israel, which is faith; and some bad things, such as unbelief, and cleaving to the flesh, which is a departing from him. In short, thou wilt find some of thy best frames pointed out, and some of thy worst feelings; thy best and thy worst hours; noble acts, and wretched failings; courageous feats, and fainting flights; the truth of grace, and fleshy foibles. That the Lord may give his blessing to it, and minister consolation by it, is the prayer and desire of,
Your affectionate Friend and Servant,
In CHRIST JESUS,
Winchester Row, Paddington