The Last Will and Testament
of William Huntington(1745-1813)
A SERVANT OF CHRIST, AND OF THE CHURCH, FOR HIS SAKE.
Set thine house in order, for thou shalt die... Isa. xxxvii. 1.
A prudent man will guide his affairs with discretion... Psalm cxii.5
DEAR BRETHREN AND SISTERS IN THE FAITH OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST,
As I have heard frequent disputes, and been witness to many differences, in various families concerning the final settlement of their temporal effects; and as I wish to avoid such like contentions, I thought it highly necessary to make my last WILL and Testament, according to those laws which alter not Dan. vi. 12. And as I have found you, under God, my best friends in time of need, I thought it proper to present to your view a printed copy of the same, that you may thereby have the satisfaction of knowing in what manner I have disposed of both my living and my dead stock, which you may suppose is of no great value. To prevent, too, those endless animosities, law-suits, and wrongs which the innocent so repeatedly sustain, after the decease of well-meaning, but ill-advised testators, I have for eight years past solicited one to undertake to be my sole executor, and who, I am fully persuaded, is without variableness or shadow of turning, James, i. 17. The glorious personage whom I have made choice of, is (with reverence be it spoken) my most familiar and bountiful Master; in whose servitude I have accumulated all the property I am now in possession of, except a mouldy bottle, Josh. ix. 4; a spider's web, Isa. lix. 5; a filthy rag, Isa. lxiv. 63 an obscuring veil, Isa. xxv. 7; a pair of clouted shoes, Josh. ix. 5; a bed too short, a covering too narrow, Isa. xxviii. 20; an old rusty breast-plate of armour, Luke xi. 21; and a broken anchor of a wrecked vessel, Isa. xxxiii. 23; which by a crafty attorney at law was kept in a false and delusive peace, Luke, xi. 21; although there was no likelihood of losing it.
In this poor, wretched, blind, miserable, and naked condition, Rev. iii. 17, I entered the service of my present invaluable Master, who condescended to wash, clothe, feed, Rev. iii. 18 and make an everlasting bargain with me, or rather reveal an ancient bargain to me. He kindly told me, he would teach me my business himself, and bring me up so delicately as a servant, that I should become his son at length, Prov. xxix. 21. My wages was to be one penny sterling per day, of the Jerusalem coin, Psal. ciii. 21. Two pieces of motley he gave me as an earnest, at my first entrance, Luke, x. 35; one of which I have often lost; but by the help of a candle, and the besom of self-examination, I have found it again, to the comfort of my own soul, and of many others. This coin never contracted any rust; for I could swear to the image and superscription thereof. My Master, moreover, told me, that I should be heir of the infinite Divinity, and a joint heir with himself of that incomprehensible portion; or, to speak in his own words," My father shall be your Father, and my God your God," John, xx. 17.
I stood amazed at the familiarity, the unexpected and undeserved favour of a stranger, when so many of my intimates stood aloof from my complaint, and refused to know my soul in adversity. I was happy also to get rid of my old master, being grievously vexed with him, Matt. xv. 22; and finding by woeful experience what dreadful wages I was to receive when the term of my life was expired, Rom. vi. 23; I told my present master, with many tears, that I had been faithful to the unrighteous mammon; to which he answered, I will give unto thee the true riches.
The appointed day being come, I entered on my new servitude with joy unspeakable and full of glory; and for a considerable time, I did my business from a principle of love to my Master with a single eye, Matt. vi. 22. But when the covenant was made betwixt us, signed, and sealed, and when I was capable of reading the contents, and seeing that it was impossible for him to discharge me, or make the bargain void, I began to take advantage of its stability. When my Master saw this, he prohibited my entering the guest chamber, and told me to come no farther than the door; I soon found that my pride had cast me from the upper chamber, and that my haughty spirit had procured me this fall, Prov. xvi. 18. Every humble soul that came upstairs found admittance; but the command to me was, "Give this man place. Thus for many weeks my upper seat was empty; and I war obliged with shame, to take the lowest room, and appear in the lobby in the character of a porter, standing there for others to look at. As I saw others go in and out, and find pasture, John, x. 9, it filled my soul with jealousy, that the flame of it seemed to consume all my love to the Master and the family, yea, and even all union with them, Cant. viii. 6 Here I lost sight of the covenant, and began to fear a final discharge. My hope now beginning to sink, desperate revenge sprang up; and if my mouth had not been kept as it were with a bridle, I should have added rebellion to my sin, charged my Master foolishly, multiplied words against God, Job, xxxiv. 37, and said in my haste, that both prophets and apostles are liars, Psal. cxvi. 11. In this condition I lay for a considerable time, being too proud to ask any of the family to intercede for me, as I had formerly appeared in the character of a key-keeper. But sinking so fast, I soon fell even from being porter, and before I was aware I saw myself in the house of correction. I now struggled, but soon found my feet were made fast in the stocks, Job, xiii. 27. Thus was I shut up, and could not come forth, Job, xii. 14. But oh! the cruel jealousy, the darkness and dread, the fear and horror, the spite and malice, which I felt here in this dark cell! I had no light, but just a glimmering though a lattice, by which I saw many pass and repass. Here, however, I broke through all my pride at length, and was forced to turn petitioner. I begged an apple (or promise) of one; and a little wine (or consolation) of another, Cant. ii. 5. But the fire of jealousy flamed so high within me, that I had lost all my spiritual palate; every thing was so unsavoury, that, to use the words of Job, it had no more taste than the white of an egg, Job, vi. 6. In this situation I continued, until my "soul refused to be comforted," Psal. lxxvii. 2; but seeing another person go up into the guest-chamber, I desired her to tell my Master that I was sick of love, Cant. ii. 5; and as it was well with her soul, I beseeched her to remember Joseph. Soon after this, I was brought to reflect on my conduct, during my confinement in this house of correction; and I found that I had omitted petitioning his Majesty, which was adding sin to sin, Job, xv. 4. This reflection caused me to send up this grievous complaint, Thou was shuttest up a man, and there is no opening. Finding some little ease, I swallowed down my spittle, Job, vii. 19, and searched for a scriptural warrant that would admit a bold faith to act; and at last I caught hold of this resolute declaration, though he slay me, yet will I trust in him. My blessed Lord heard it; for I found afterward that he only stood behind the wall, Cant. it. 9. Not long after, this sweet word came into my mind. I will arise and go to MY Father, Luke, xv. 18. I felt that word (MY) was applicable to me, and therefore I turned it into a scriptural petition - I am thine, save me, Psal. cxix. 94. I now fell into a trance, and saw a light shine into the house of correction, and my blessed and holy Master shewed himself through the lattice, Cant. ii. 9, in all his dyed garments, and shone on my worthless soul with uncommon lustre, John, xiv. 21. I thought my faith saw him as plain as any natural eye ever saw him when he hung upon the cross, Luke, xii. 10; John, xiv. 19; 1 Cor. xv. 5:8. The first word that he applied to my soul was, All that I love I rebuke and chasten, and scourge every son whom I receive. My soul failed when he spake it, Cant. v. 6. When he put his blessed and powerful hand in by the hole of the door, I found my heart so enlarged that my "bowels were moved for him," Cant. v. 4. I thought I looked at him till my very soul melted, and in faith's vision of his dying love I saw my base ingratitude in all its deformity, which made me cry out, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes," Job, xlii. 5, 6. I was now in such raptures, that I could not be persuaded in my own mind but that I was asleep, and in a dream, for I thought it was impossible for such a one to be so favoured of God. But when I began to move, I found I had lost my chains indeed, and sweet enlargement was once more proclaimed, which filled my mouth with laughter, and my tongue with singing; and I said, He has turned my captivity, and I thought it was a dream, Psal. cxxvi. 1.
This was the second time that he appeared to revive his own work in my soul, after my having a long-standing controversy with him. And now he led me again into "the banqueting-house, and his banner over me was love," Cant. ii. 4, And I rejoiced under it; but still kept reflecting on myself for my base ingratitude; and though he had forgiven me, I could not forgive myself. But as he walked across the room, he cried out to one and to another, Give this man place: but before this, the command was for me to give place. This last voice was the sweetest; "Better it is that it be said to thee, Go up higher, than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the Prince whom thine eyes have seen," Prov. xxv. 7. Never was I seated so high before; my usual place was about the middle of the table, but now it was next to the Master himself. I sat and wept, and secretly gave him a hundred blessings; and in all his sweet conversation, he ended with a blessing for Peter, Mark xvi. 7, is particular. It is true that was not my name, yet I took it al to myself; for though I had not denied him with dreadful oaths, yet I knew that curses enough were conceived in my heart; and that it was owing to his restraining power that I did not bring them forth. However, all those whom he brings out of the house of correction must sup with him, Rev. iii. 20; and those who are placed at the head of the table get the largest mess; yea, five times more than the rest; but before this honour is humility, Prov. xv. 33. When I came to look at the guests, I saw many put lower in his presence, and some were in a fair way to become porters: however, it is better to be a door-keeper in this spiritual house, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. This merciful act of multiplying pardons is such a soul-humbling act, that clothed me with true humility, and taught me to walk many days in the path of self-abhorrence. Eternal Election shined bright in this also; because it is evident that God has sent a death-warrant to some thousands of servants at once, for less heart-rebellion than I was guilty of as a son; yea, he has stripped many servants of all the ornaments he had given them, and turned them out of his house for ever, for less heart-rising than mine. But this is agreeable to his own laws; for nothing is secured to a servant; but to a son all is secured. "Thus saith the Lord God, If the prince give a gift unto any of his sons, the inheritance thereof shall be his sons', it shall be their possession by inheritance. But if he give a gift of his inheritance to one of his servants, then it shall be his to the year of liberty; after, it shall return to the prince: but his inheritance shall be his sons' for them. Moreover, the prince shall not take of the people's inheritance by oppression, to thrust them out of their possession; but he shall give his sons inheritance out of his own possession; that my people be not scattered every man from his own possession," Ezek. xlvi. 16, 17, 18. And the Saviour's comment on these words is, "Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away, even that he hath," Matt. xiii. 12. Sometimes my Master withheld my daily penny from me, in order to teach my faith to call things that are not, as though they were: as sometimes God speaks of things as past, which are yet to come, so faith calls things her own, which she is not in possession of; and thus faith becomes "the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen," Heb. xi. 1.
But my friends may object to this my Will, and say, a Testament is of no force, while the testator liveth. Though this, in some cases, is true, yet not in all. We enjoy the legacy of the New Testament; and yet it is witnessed, that the testator ever liveth; and many enjoyed the legacy before Christ's death, while the sword of justice slept. In the course of my ministry, I have had several persons come to consult me about making their wills, and their anxiety seemed to be most about pitching upon some stable arm of flesh for an executor: and an honest lawyer to make the will. I thought they would have no better success in their search after an honest lawyer, than Solomon had in his search after an honest woman, Eccl. vii. 28. I observed that none of those testators said any thing about Jesus Christ having to do with the settlement of their matters; the Wonderful Counsellor seemed to be left quite out of the question; for they took counsel, but not of him. However, Abraham goes another way to work; he pitches on Eleazar, his steward, (who was a faithful, God-fearing man) to be his executor. He first swears him by God, and then put his goods into his hands, and tells him how to act, and sends him in faith to fetch a wife for his son and heir; and she is to be one chosen by the Angel of the everlasting Covenant. If the Angel did not perform what Abraham's faith had engaged him in, the executor was to be cleared from the testator's oath.
Abraham, having thus made his will, and by faith engaged his God and Saviour (who is heir of all things, rich in blessings, just in all his ways, and able to execute whatever faith entrusts him with), dies, and leaves his son with Christ in faith. Isaac reaps the benefit of his father's confidence. First, he gets a valuable wife, Gen. xxiv. 67, and one who was prevalent with God in prayer: a loving, believing, praying wife, is a helpmate indeed, Gen. xxv. 22. Secondly, she is made fruitful, in answer to Isaac's prayer: "Isaac sows his ground, and reaps that bear an hundred-fold; and the Lord blessed him, and the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great." This is settling matters agreeable to the command of God - "Leave thy fatherless children with me, I will keep them alive; and let thy widows trust in me," Jer. xliv. 11.
Faith seemed to have the greatest share in Amram's will, both in saving the life of Moses, and in preserving him. Faith saw that he was a proper child, and this weakened the fear of the king's commandment. Faith builds the floating cradle, and for three months hides him: the prayer of Faith engages God's protecting care over him, the flags cover him, and no crocodile durst approach. Poor Moses was condemned as soon as formed; for the sentence fell on the sex, not on the crime; YE shall kill the males. Thus was he dead by the law of a tyrant, as soon as formed; and was to enter the valley of death's shadow, as soon as brought forth. But notwithstanding of this, faith leaves the little one with God, who withholds the wicked from performing his enterprize. The lawgiver must bring up the child at his own expense - and he that signed the death-warrant becomes the grandfather of the adopted child. Moses must live at his own father's house, under the protection of the princess - while the believing parents are rewarded double; first, their son lives; and, secondly, they are paid from court for nursing their own child. Faith at last appears as an hereditary portion in Moses: he disdains his adoption, eyes the reward promised to faith, chooses the cross of Christ, and sees Him who is invisible - becomes a prophet, a mediator, and at last is made king in Jeshurun. These are some of the blessed effects of making God the guardian of our offspring. Isaac and Jacob do the same by their children; first, they bless them in the name of God; leave them, and what they have, with him in faith - and then implore his grace and providence in their behalf.
To make a will, and leave one's offspring in the hands of a rich worldling, without prayer to God, or faith in him, is the only way to have our children tossed about by the devil, from the cradle, Mark, ix. 22. However, none but those who believe in Christ have this privilege of leaving their property with God, and who leave what is really their own. An estate gotten by dishonesty will soon be scattered by God's curse but if gotten honestly in the fear of God, in answer to the prayer of faith, it is sanctified and sweetened to us with a sense of his everlasting love in Christ Jesus. Thus it is, that the "blessing of God, and that only, maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it," Prov. x. 22. Oh! it is sweet to look back, and see every temporal and spiritual blessing appear as so many answers to prayer, and as so many precious promises fulfilled to us! - Answers to prayer prove us to be "sons of God by faith," 1 John, v. 14, 15; and spiritual blessings prove us to be the "the heirs of promise," Gal. iv. 28. Oh blessed fraternity! Oh! blessed inheritance! - "I have taken thy precepts to be my heritage for ever," said the sweet singer of Israel, Psal. cxix. 111.
Reader, whatever will and testament thou art obliged to make before men, in order to secure thy property to posterity, be sure to let thy faith make another before God. This last will be the best security. The integrity and the uprightness of men may fail; - "but the mercy of God is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him; and his righteousness upon children's children, Psal. ciii. 17.