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A Letter to The Banner of Truth Magazine
 
from
its co-founder,
 
Mr. Sidney Norton
 

 

Sidney Norton (1907-1994) was the co-founder, with Iain Murray, of The Banner of Truth magazine in 1955.  He wrote the following letter to the editor of the magazine in 1988 in response to an article which appeared in the July 1988 issue (no. 298, pp. 8-11) entitled "Voice of the Years: An Appraisal of William Huntington."  The article was a scurrilous attack on the celebrated Coalheaver, who the late Dr. Ian Paisley described as "One of those great preacher/prophets in England, and in fact, in many respects the greatest of them all".

 

 

Fareham

Hants.

8.7.88

 

The Rev. Maurice Roberts

Ayr,

Scotland

 

Dear Mr. Roberts,

 

I cannot forbear to write to say that I am saddened to read the article in the Banner Magazine, current issue, entitled 'The Voice of Years'; more so because the magazine is under the editorial direction of the Rev. Iain Murray, himself once an occupant of the famous pulpit of the late Joseph Irons, founder of the Grove Chapel, Camberwell, London.  I know that Mr. Murray has moved, ministerially, from such uncompromising Calvinists, but, surely he has leaped to a surprising height when, as Editorial Director, he directs this pen-ministry to degrade the pulpits of faithful men.  Would it not be better and much more profitable to devote the pages of the 'Banner' to the exaltation of the GOD-MAN and the glorious Gospel of grace rather than to this kind of exercise, which, sadly, has been a feature of the magazine in recent years?

 

To say the least, it is very unbecoming for a minister who is not now holding a pastorate over a New Testament church, as independent, visible and local, to degrade one such as William Huntington.

 

This servant of the Lord is numbered among those TERRIBLE AS AN ARMY WITH BANNERS.  He was used under God to winnow the floor of Christ's visible church, by separating grace and merit; gospel and law; the covenant of grace and the covenant of works; experience and notion; free-grace and free-will; in a word, the separation of the wheat from the chaff.  Because of this Huntington has 'stood pilloried on infamy's high stage'.  He was vilified by such Essayists as Southey, calling him a fanatic, a knave, an imposter, a hypocrite.  Under Huntington's ministry many, very many, poor sinners were delivered from Satan's prison house and translated into Gospel liberty.  Like His Master, the Lord Jesus, he was both greatly hated and dearly loved, so was Paul, an apostle, and so are all faithful servants of the Lord.  It is easy for the Banner to publish this bearing the signature of an unknown person not now living.  I cannot refrain from asking, since the article has the nature of a review, why it does not have the signature of Mr. Murray, it would appear more honourable if it did.  In fairness to the memory of this minister of the Gospel the Banner should publish extracts from the records of some who were listeners among the crowded congregations drinking with joy from the wells of salvation opened by this remarkable preacher.  Let the Banner publish some extracts from the writings of Huntington such as 'The Kingdom of Heaven Taken by Prayer' and 'The Bank of Faith'.  Notwithstanding his low extraction, like Bunyan, he is a genius.  I say, let The Banner OF TRUTH at least be equitable in its treatment of this man.  I do not say that he should be pictured without his warts, for we must not forget that 'the best of men are but men AT BEST'.  I wonder how I would have re-acted to such a torrent of abuse?  Surely the archers sorely grieved him and shot at him and hated him.  He had to endure the archers of slander, of calumny and of ridicule.  But thousands mourned at his departure from this evil world, having been blessed under his ministry; on the other hand I quote from a just reviewer of Huntington's precious letters, referring to Southey's 'Naked Bow' in which he calls Huntington's publication, The Bank of Faith, 'blasphemous effrontery', this reviewer says 'We have often thought whether Southey's dying a lunatic and almost an idiot was not an arrow from the naked bow of Him whose servant he had so shamefully reviled'.  But let final judgment be of God, alone knowing the thoughts and intents of the heart, and He that judgeth righteously.

 

In controversy, which cannot be avoided, if we earnestly contend for the Faith once delivered to the saints let us not think we can win the argument by giving a man a bad name and then hanging him - God forbid that the Banner should spoil its testimony by being tempted to adopt such an unjust method.

 

With every good Christian wish,

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Sidney Norton

 

 

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