A letter from William Huntington.
Grace, mercy and peace be with you through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I received your melancholy epistle, which I believe to be expressive of the gloomy state of your soul. Your appearing in your own eyes one of the greatest of sinners is intended to erase the sandy foundation of human excellency, and to level the towering pinnacle of vain boasting, but is no argument against salvation by grace.
This I tell you by the Word of the Lord, that there is not a single text in God’s Book against a poor, sensible, heavy-laden sinner that is willing to renounce all confidence in the flesh and to submit to be saved by free grace through faith in Christ Jesus.
I do not wonder at the threatenings in God’s Word levelling their contents at you; they will do this till your eye is singly fixed on Jesus Christ. When this is the case, the promises, as so many breasts of consolation, will meet you with cordials, and the threatenings will level all their arrows at your back, to keep you from looking again towards Sodom. After the Saviour had given His followers many admonitions, He bade them remember Lot’s wife.
You would not have continued so long in your present situation if all your working abilities were exhausted; for God has promised to appear when His people’s strength is all gone and there is none left; for by strength shall no man prevail. A legal hope dies hard, and it must be a killing sight and sense of sin that buries it. At the funeral of this wretched hope, deliverance will rise to you another way. “Let the weak say, I am strong” (Joel 3:10).
Moses must bring in many bills before our supposed wealth be expended. Insolvency is a cutting consideration to a man of consequence and reputation, nor can self-sufficient nature submit to the kind offers of a surety. But the family of God are all brought into this strait: “And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both...” (Luke 7:42). This step brings them in debtors to grace, and leaves them no stock in hand to boast of.
“...Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And He said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.”
If I had not been well acquainted with your occupation, I should have taken you to have been an advocate at a bar of judicature, for you labour as hard against a good cause as a counsellor doth when his arguments are driven home by a thousand pound bribe. If you were to use as many arguments in your plea for the atonement of Christ as you do against your soul’s salvation, you would cut as good a figure at a throne of grace as any sinner that ever carried a plea into court.
Moses is said to accuse us for breaking his law, and Satan will accuse us, conscience will accuse us, and the world will accuse us. But we have no reason to puzzle our judgments and strain our nerves to assist any of them. Plead your own wretchedness and a Saviour’s fulness, and that will silence every accuser.
Your despairing of the mercy of God under a sense of want, and nursing unbelief, are the greatest sins you ever committed, and are daring reflections cast on Him who saves to the uttermost.
I believe you will be eternally saved, and if your faith has given up the ghost, you ought not to labour so hard to knock down mine also. We are commanded to bear each other’s burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ.
Beware that there be not in thy heart a secret thought of meriting something by thy long suffering. There is also a kind of mock modesty that often possesses us under our first legal convictions. This appears when we endeavour to put away from us what we hope to enjoy. Job said, “I shall come forth as gold,” and yet he refused to be comforted.
I believe if death were to stare you in the face, I should find it hard work to dispute you out of your right and title to those gospel bessings, which you now labour so hard to put far from you. Farewell. “Be of good comfort, rise; He calleth thee.” (Mark 10:49).
As soon as unbelief has influenced thee to patch up another epistle, you will be so kind as to let me have it, for I am still in hope that my patience will weary out your unbelief.
Thine to command in all godliness,
William Huntington, S.S.
Winchester Row, July 6th, 1784