This section is from the book "A Library Of Wonders And Curiosities Found In Nature And Art, Science And Literature", by I. Platt. Also available from Amazon: A library of wonders and curiosities.
"I will now inform my reader of the kind providence of my God at the time of building the chapel, which I named Providence Chapel (1788); and also mention a few free-will-offerings which the people brought. They first offered about eleven pounds, and laid it on the foundation at the beginning of the building. A good gentleman, with whom I had but little acquaintance, and of whom I bought a load of timber, sent it in with a bill and receipt-in-full, as a present to the Chapel of Providence. Another good man came with tears in his eyes, and blessed me, and desired to paint my pulpit, desk, etc. as a present to the chapel. Another person gave half a dozen chairs for the vestry ; and my friends, Mr. and Mrs. Lyon, furnished me with a tea-chest, well stored, and a set of china. My good friends, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, furnished me with a very handsome bed, bedstead, and all its furniture and necessaries, that I might not be under the necessity of walking home in the cold winter nights. A daughter of mine in the faith, gave me a looking-glass for my chapel study. Another friend gave me my pulpit-cushion, and a book-case for my study. Another gave me a book-case for the vestry. And my good friend, Mr. E. seemed to level all his displeasure at the devil; for he was in hopes I should be enabled, through the gracious arm of the Lord, to cut Rahab in pieces; therefore he furnished me with a sword of the Spirit - a new Bible, with Morocco binding and silver clasps. I had got one old cart-horse, (says W. H.) that I had bought with the rest of the stock on the farm, and 1 wanted two more, but money ran short; and I determined also to have a large tilted cart, to take my family to chapel, and the man should drive it on the Sunday and on lecture nights, and I would ride my little horse. This was the most eligible plan that I could adopt; and on this I determined, as soon as God should send money to procure them. I came to this conclusion on a Friday ; and on the next dry, toward evening, came two or three friends from town to see me. I wondered not a little at their coming, as they knew that on a Saturday I never like to see any body, and therefore I conceived that they must be come with some heavy tidings ; some friend was dead, or something bad had happened. But they came to inform me that some friends had agreed among themselves, and bought me a coach and a pair of horses, which they intended to make me a present of. I informed them that the assessed taxes ran so high, that I should not be able to keep it. But they stopped my mouth by informing me, that the money for paying the taxes for the coach and horses was subscribed also ; so that nothing lay upon me, but the keep of the horses. Thus, instead of being at the expense of a tilted cart, God sent me a coach without cost, and two horses without my purchasing them; and which, with my other old horse, would do the work of the farm, as well as the work of the coach ; and my bailiff informed me that he could drive it, having formerly drove one. Thus was I set up. But at this time the pocket was bare, and many things were wanting, both in the house and on the farm, and a place to fit up for my bailiff and dairy-woman to live in. And it was but a few days afterward before a gentleman out of the country called upon me ; and, being up in my study with me, he said, * My friend, I often told you, you would keep your coach before you died ; and I always promised, that whenever you had a coach, 1 would give you a pair of horses ; and I will not be worse than my word. I have inquired of Father Green, and he tells me that the horses cost forty-five pounds, and there is the money.' In a day or two after, the coach, horses, and harness, came ; and, having now a little money, I wrote to a friend in the country to send me twelve ewes, and a male with them; and he sent me twelve excellent ones, and the male with them, but would not be paid for them ; they were a present to the farm. 'Whoso is wise and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord.' Ps.cvii.4S.
Much did Mr. Huntingdon owe to the singularity of his ways. Singular in his outset and career, singular in his opinions, singular in his own appearance, singular in his chapel, singular in his style of preaching, he seemed to know, as well as most men, the value of singularity. He not only excelled in extempore eloquence, but his peculiarities distinguished him from most other preachers. Having formally announced his text, he laid his Bible at once aside, and never referred to it again. Having laid on one side the volume of inspiration, and disdaining the trammels of transcription, he proceeded directly to his object; and, excepting incidental digressions, as, "Take care of your pockets !" "Wake that snoring sinner!" "Silence that noisy numscull!" "Turn out that drunken dog !" excepting such occasional digressions, which, like the episodes of poetry, must, when skilfully introduced, be understood to heighten the effect of the whole, our orator never deviated from the course in which he commenced his eccentric career of ministerial labour.
He had other advantages over many of his pulpit compeers. Being of the metaphorical and allegorical school, as well as possessing his citations by rote, there is seldom to be found the passage, from the book of Genesis to the Revelation of St. John, that may not have, remotely or allusively, some connection with the subject immediately under his investigation. Hence the variety, as well as the fertility, of his eloquence. Hence the novelty of his commentaries ; his truly astonishing talent of reconciling texts, else undoubtedly incongruous; and of discovering dissimilarities, and asserting difficulties, where none were believed to exist. Nothing could exceed the dictatorial dogmatism of this famous preacher. Believe him, none but him, - and that is enough. If he aimed thus to pin the faith of those who hear him, he would say over and over, "As sure as I am born, 'tis," etc. or, "I believe this," or, "I know this," "I am sure of it," or, "I believe the plain English of it (some difficult text) to be," etc. When he adds, as he was wont, by way of fixing his point, "Now, you can't help it," or, "So it is," or, "It must be so in spite of you," he did this with a most significant shake of his head, with a sort of beldam hauteur, with all the dignity of defiance. Action he seemed to have none, except that of shifting his handkerchief from hand to hand, and hugging his cushion as though it were his bolster. He therefore owed his distinction to the absence of those qualities by which most men rise. Self has done great things for him : self-taught, self-raised, all of self. "God (says Mr. H.) enabled me to put out several little books, which were almost universally exclaimed against, both oy preachers and professors, and by these means God sent them into all winds; so that I soon rubbed off one hundred, and soon after another, so that, in a short time, I had reduced my thousand pounds (debt) down to seven hundred."
Of his works, he adds, that "they are calculated (as he thinks,) to suit the earnest inquirer; the soul in bondage, in the furnace, in the path of tribulation, or in the strong hold of Satan; and (says he) I have heard of them from Wales, from Scotland, from Ireland, from various parts of America, from Cadiz in Spain, from Alexandria in Egypt, and, I believe, from both the East and West Indies."
His "Bank of Faith" has proved a bank of gold ! When he wrote so much of what came to him as gifts, was it not to rouse more to give ? The man who says he lives by gifts, will, as he gets his friends, find gifts by which he may live. He died at London, in 1813 ; and such was the avidity of his adherents to obtain a relic of him, that his furniture sold at ten times the original value. An old chair went off at forty pounds.