The Last Will and Testament
of William Huntington(1745-1813)
Poem to the Christian Reader
PRIVATE GOOD Christian, if thou hast perused my Will,
In search after learning, good language, or skill,
Disappointed you are, no learning is there,
My weakness has met your surprise:
But what tho' the author and language be mean,
You know there are readers as foolish as him,
Yet if the Almighty should bless it to them,
Pray why should the scholar despise?
Illiterate Christians may read and may pray;
And lead the benighted to stand in the way;
And each in his station be bless'd in his day,
But authors they never must be.
Truth is not confined to Masters of Arts,
The aged nor learned, nor famous for parts;
She's known by the chosen, and dwells in their hearts,
Her gracious instructions are free.
A fable in elegant language may pass,
And dangerous errors, if learning's their mask;
Yea, the arrantest falsehood in many a class,
Shall meet with the highest esteem:
But Truth, if she's naked, can never be sham'd;
If you make but distinctions, she cannot be blam'd;
But tho' she brought heaven wherever she came,
She too oft has met with disdain.
No ploughman, nor joskin, nor whimsical head
To touch Holy Orders must ever be led
But credit the clergy whatever be said,
If reason and virtue be there:
No feelings of enthusiastical fools,
But science and logic distill'd at the schools,
With Jewish traditions and heathenish rules,
These only must furnish the seer.
Good Enoch and Abel were otherwise taught;
The patriarchs with faith and with patience were faught;
No chanting devotions by prophets were taught,
They never adopted the mode:
They worshipp'd the Saviour with only his own;
And preach'd him without either rocket or gown;
Sure none will deny but their gospel was sound.
And all their devotions were good.
Divine revelation was given of old,
And miraculous gifts to apostles foretold,
But visions of faith we are not to behold,
Nor to inspiration pretend:
Our British divines, with their excellent parts,
Invested with titles and fitted with arts,
Have prescribed a rule for worshipping hearts;
The whole is established by men.
Jehovah's a Spirit the scriptures declare,
And Christ hath insisted on spiritual care;
No worship can please if the Spirit's not there,
All carnal religion is feigned.
He instructeth the foolish and opens their eyes;
The preachers with matter he richly supplies:
He teaches the fool what he hides from the wise;
Without him all preaching is vain.
Priests fitted with science all nature reveres,
They predict eclipses and reckon the stars;
Such read Fortune's frowns, and the smiles that she bears,
But won't let her aspects be mixt:
They unswaddle Nature's mysterious folds,
And describe how the globe diurnally rolls,
Yea, and measure the line that reaches the poles,
And tell how these axes are fixt."
To gospel astronomy I can agree,
For Jesus, the Day-star is pleasing to me;
The rays of that Sun and the balm they convey,
Delighteth the wisest of men:
The art of astrology who can reject?
To cast a nativity, is to reflect
If Jesus and conscience are found to compact,
It predicts a peaceable end.
The science of botany surely is sound,
Where Jesus appeareth the Plant of renown:
To describe that Root is a knowledge profound,
To deep for blind nature to scan:
The art of anatomy none should despise,
Because it is practis'd by none but the wise;
No art shall excel it that mortals devise,
If it can dissect the old man.
The art of geometry none. can disprove;
It fathoms the deep, and soareth above;
it grasps Omnipresence, which all Christians love;
And fixes the whole in the mind.
Geology describeth the parts of the earth,
And leads to the mountains - the place of Christ's death,
If it leads to a Bethel, or spiritual birth,
That art shall be good in its kind.