These are to signify that I Obadiah Holmes of Newport, Rhode Island being at present through the goodness and mercy of my God of sound memory and being by daily intimation put in mind of the frailty and uncertainty of this present life, do therefore for settling my estate in this world which it hath pleased the Lord to bestow upon me, make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner following, committing my spirit unto the Lord that gave it me and my body to the earth from whence it was taken, in hope and expectation that it shall from thence be raised at the resurrection of the just.Item. I will that all my just debts which I owe unto any person be paid by my executors hereafter named in convenient time after my decease. Item. I give and bequeath unto my daughter Mary Brown… …whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this ninth day of April, 1681.
TO HIS WIFE
A letter to my dear wife, if she remain in the land of the living, after my departure, as a true token of my love unto her.
My most dear wife, my heart hath ever cleaved to thee ever since we came together and is knit to thee in death – which is the cause of these lines as a remembrance of God’s goodness to us in continuing us together almost forty years, not diminishing us in our offspring since the first day till now (except only our first- born); who hath made all our conditions comfortable to us, whether in fullness or emptiness, lifted up or thrown down, in honour or disgrace, sickness or health, by giving us contentation and love one with and to another, but more in a special manner in causing his fear to fall upon us and his love to be placed in our hearts and to know his will and to conform us to the obedience of the same, as to be willing to take up the cross and to follow the Lord not fearing what man can do unto us for the Lord being on our side who can be against us. For with his rod and staff he hath comforted us, yea hath been our present help in a needful time; and we have cause while we live to praise his holy name while we are together, and when death doth separate us that the longer liver may praise him while breath remains.
Wherefore I, having some thought I may go away before thee, having signs or tokens that my day is but short, and it may fall out that I cannot or may not speak to thee at the last, shall give thee some considerations for thy meditations in a time of trouble or affliction that they may speak when I cannot if the Lord please to speak in them. And by them consider how the Lord carried thee all along, ever since thou hadst a being in this world as by tender parents, and since thou camest from them the Lord hath provided for thee and preserved thee in many dangers both by sea and land and given thee food and raiment with contentation, and he hath increased our store sometimes to our admiration, also continuing our health in very great measure. And consider that he has also given us great posterity who hath increased to a great number and he hath provided for them in a comfortable manner and that he hath kept them from such evils as might have befallen them to our grief but we have had comfort in them. As also consider the peace we have enjoyed and love we have obtained from our friends and neighbours and strangers.
Yet my dear wife, these things are but common favours that many may have their part in, but consider that choice particular favour that many receive not, which God hath given to thee in choosing and calling thee to the knowledge of himself and his dear Son which is life eternal; and to draw thy heart to cleave to him alone, esteeming him as the chief good, as a pearl of great price or worth and causing thy heart to part with all for him which love hath constrained thee to hearken to his voice, inquiring what his will was, that thou might obey his holy will and commandments so as to serve him in thy generation. Oh ! consider that great love of the Lord to cause thy soul to cleave to him alone and so he to be thy only portion, so that he having given thee his Son hath with him given thee all things thou dost enjoy, and so to be to thee both in life and death thy advantage. The consideration of which causes me to put thee now in mind when I am removed, to consider him as thy husband, as thy father, as thy Lord and Saviour alone, who hath said ‘whom he loveth, he loveth to the end’ and that he will not leave them nor forsake them, neither in the six nor seven troubles but carry them through all till he bring them to glory.
Wherefore, lift up thy heart and be not discouraged, and say to thy soul, ‘why art thou so disquieted within me?’ Hope in God and trust in his name and thou shalt not be disappointed, and let thy love to me end in this: that it is better for me to be out of the body and to be with the Lord, at rest with him, and to be freed from that body of sin and death which I was in while I was in this present evil world, which caused much sorrow of heart to me in secret, for when I would do good evil was present with me. And consider the fears you had concerning me every day both for pains and weakness, and dangers of the many troubles that might befall me, but now let thy soul say ‘he is out of all dangers, freed from sin and Satan, and all enemies and doubts, and death is past, and is overcome and conquered, and he is at rest in a bed of quietness as to the body, and with the Lord in spirit, but at the resurrection that weak, corrupt, mortal body shall be received immortal and glorious, and shall see and know as he is known’. Therefore say, ‘why shall I mourn as one out of hope?’ – but rather rejoice in hope of the glorious resurrection of the just.
And now, my dear wife, do thou live by the faith of the son of God, exercise patience and let patience have its perfect work in thee. It will be but a little while before thy day will end and thy time will come to sleep with me in rest, and that he that will come will come and will not tarry; keep close to the Lord in secret, be much with God in prayer and improve every season for thy souls advantage; in special in holy meditations. Be cheerful and rejoice in God continually. Care not for the things of this world, say not ‘what shall I eat or wherewith shall I be clothed?’ for thy Father knoweth what thou hast need of and he hath given thee much more of these things than ever thou or I could expect or have deserved, and thou hast enough and to spare if his good pleasure be to let thee enjoy the same; if not, he alone is a sufficient portion, yet I question not but he will preserve what thou hast and bless it to thee; wherefore make use of what he is pleased to let thee enjoy – I say make use of it to thy present comfort, and now thou art but weak and aged cease from thy labour and great toil, and take a little rest and ease in thy old age. Live on what thou hast for what the Lord hath given us I freely have given thee for thy life, to make thy life comfortable. Wherefore see thou doeth it so long as house, land or cattle remain: make much of thyself, and at thy death then what remains may be disposed of according to my will.
And now my dear wife, whom I love as my own soul, I commit thee to the Lord who hath been a gracious merciful God to us all our days, not once doubting but he will be gracious to thee in life or death and will carry thee through this valley of tears with his own supporting hand. Sorrow not at my departure but rejoice in the Lord and again I say rejoice in the God of our salvation. And in nothing be careful but make thy request to him who only is able to supply thy necessities and to help thee in time of need, unto whom I commit thee for counsel wisdom and strength and to keep thee blameless to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to whom be all glory honour and praise, forever and ever Amen. Fare thee well.
TO HIS CHILDREN
My dear children, a word or two unto you all who are near and dear unto me and much on my heart as I draw near to my end, and am not like to see you nor speak to you at my departure. Wherefore I am moved to leave these lines for your consideration when I am gone and you shall see me no more; and take it as the real truth of my heart in love to you all, for as I have been a means to bring you into the world as corrupted and as sinful creatures – as you were when conceived and brought forth into the world – as so as I was, even so are ye by nature children of wrath as well as others, and yet the Lord had mercy on me, and I trust will shew mercy on you in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. As he hath begun with some of you to cause them to know him and to serve him to love and obey him, so I trust will he shew mercy to you all.
Wherefore my dear children, above all things in this world let it be your care to seek the Kingdom of Heaven and his righteousness, first and above all things and to consider what you are by nature: even enemies to God. Be ye thoroughly convinced of that, and by actual transgression ye sin as yet. Know that such great love as cannot be expressed by men nor angels hath the Lord sent. He hath held forth even his Son, his only Son to save and deliver from wrath as not to perish but to have eternal life, even to all and every one that believes in his only Son, for in him is life.
My son Joseph, remember that Joseph of Arimathea was a good man and a disciple of Jesus and was bold and went boldly and asked the body of Jesus and buried it.
My son John, remember what a lovely and a beloved disciple he was.
My daughter Hope, consider what a grace of God hope is, and court after that hope that will never be ashamed, but hath hope of eternal life and salvation by Jesus Christ.
My son Obadiah, consider that Obadiah was a servant of the Lord and tender in spirit, and in a troublesome time hid the prophets by fifty in a cave.
My son Samuel, remember Samuel was a chief prophet of the Lord ready to hear his voice, saying, ‘speak Lord for thy servant heareth’.
My daughter Martha, remember Martha: although she was cumbered with many things yet she loved the Lord, and was beloved of him, for ‘he loved Mary and Martha’.
My daughter Mary, remember Mary: she ‘chose the better part that shall not be taken away’ and did hearken to the Lords instructions.
My son Johnathan, remember how faithful and loving he was to David that servant of the Lord.
My daughter Lidiah, remember how Lydia’s heart was opened, her ear bored, her spirit made to be willing to receive and obey the apostle in what the Lord required, and was baptized and entertained and refreshed the servants of the Lord.
Now my dear children, consider how great love the Lord hath held forth in his Son and go to him for life, cleansing and pardoning, that you may be delivered from that great bondage and slavery that by nature you are in. Know you, it is the Lord only that must draw you by his own power unto his Son and that the Son came to seek and to save that was lost: even to the sick. The whole need him not, and therefore be ye careful ye reject him not and defer not the present tender of grace, but while it is called a day harden not your hearts but turn to the Lord by true repentance, and give credit to the Lord and testimony concerning his Son – that is to believe on him and so shall ye be saved. My soul hath been in great trouble for you to see Christ formed in you by a thorough work of the Holy Spirit of the Lord, that it may appear you are born again and engrafted to the true vine, that so you being true branches may bring forth fruit unto God and serve him in your generations.
Although my care and counsel hath been extended to you, as you all know, yet it is the Lord must work both to will and to do of his own good pleasure. Wherefore, wait on him with care and diligence carefully, read the scriptures and mind what is therein contained for they testify of him. And let your hourly desires be to him that he would effectually be your teacher by his Holy Spirit.
Beware ye hearken not to any one that shall speak contrary to the scriptures for ‘if they do speak otherwise it is because they have no light in them’, and let your conversation and life be squared by the same and they will direct you how to behave yourselves toward God and man. And next to the loving and fearing the Lord, have you a most dear and tender respect to your faithful careful tender hearted, loving aged mother. Show your duty in all things. Honour her with high and cheerful love and respect and then make sure you love one another. It hath been my joy to see your love one to another: let it continue and increase. So may you be good examples to others, visit one another as often as you can and put one another in mind of the uncertainty of life and what need there is to prepare for death. Take counsel one of another and if one see cause to advise or reprove the other, hearken to it and take it well.
Be ye content with your present condition and portion God giveth you, and make a good use of what you have by making use of it for your comfort for meat and drink and apparel: it is the gift of God. And take care to live honestly, justly and quietly with love and peace among your neighbours, and if possible be at peace with all men, and in what you can do good to all men – in special to such as fear the Lord. And forget not to entertain strangers according to your ability. If it be done in sincerity it will be accepted; specially if it be to a disciple in the name of a disciple. And do to all men as you would have them do to you. Seek not honour of men, nor praise from men, but the honour that is of God by the truth. That is, part with all for the truth’s sake,. And if you would be Christ’s disciples, ye must know and consider that ye must take up your cross and follow him through evil report and losses. But yet know ‘he that will lose his life for him will save it’. And if you put your hand to the plough you must not turn or look back. Remember Lot’s wife. But be constant to death and you shall receive the crown of life.
This my dear children, have I according to my measure counselled you and the good Lord give you understanding in all things and by his spirit convince, reprove and instruct and lead you into all truth as it is in Jesus that when you have done your work here he may receive you to glory. Now the God of truth and peace be with you and unto whom I commit this and you, even to him be glory for ever and ever, Amen.