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From the Commencement of his labours at Kaunaumeek, to his Ördination.
April 1, 1743. "I rode to Kaunaumeek, near twenty miles from Stockbridge, where the Indians live with whom I am concerned, and there lodged on a little heap of straw. I was greatly exercised with inward trials and distresses all day; and in the evening, my heart was sunk, and I seemed to have no God to go to. Oh that God would help me!"
The next five days, he was for the most part in a dejected, depressed state of mind, and sometimes extremely so. He speaks of God's "waves and billows rolling over his soul;" and of his being ready sometimes to say, "Surely his mercy is clean gone forever, and he will be favourable no more; and says, the anguish he endured, was nameless and inconceivable; but at the same time speaks thus concerning his distresses, "What God designs by all my distresses, I know not; but this I know, I deserve them all, and thousands more." He gives an account of the Indians kindly receiving him, and being seriously attentive to his instructions.
April 7. Appeared to myself exceedingly ignorant, weak, helpless, unworthy, and altogether unequal to my work. It seemed to me, that I should never do any service, or have any success among the Indians. My soul was weary of my life; I longed for death, beyond measure. When I thought of any godly soul departed, my soul was ready to envy him his privilege, thinking, " O when will my turn come! must it be years first!" But I know these ardent desires, at this and other times, rose partly for want of resignation to God under all miseries; and so were but impatience. Towards night, I had the exercise of faith in prayer, and some assistance in writing. Oh that God would keep me near him!
April 8. "Was exceedingly pressed under a sense of my pride, selfishness, bitterness, and party spirit, in while I attempted to promote the cause of God.
times past, Its vile na
ture and dreadful consequences appeared in such odious colours to me, that my very heart was pained. I saw how poor souls stumbled over it into everlasting destruction, that I was constrained to make that prayer in the bitterness of my soul, "O Lord, deliver me from blood-guiltiness." I saw my desert of hell on this account. My soul was full of inward anguish and shame before God, that I had spent so much time in conversation tending only to promote a party-spirit. I saw that I had not suitably prized mortification, self-denial, resignation under all adversities, meekness, love, candour, and holiness of heart and life and this day was almost wholly spent in such bitter, and soul-afflicting reflections on my past frames and conduct. Of late, I have thought much of having the kingdom of Christ advanced in the world; but now I saw I had enough to do within myself. The Lord be merciful to me a sinner, and wash my soul!
April 9. "Remained much in the same state as yesterday, excepting that the sense of my vileness was not so quick and
Lord's day, April 10. "Rose early in the morning, and walked out and spent a considerable time in the woods, in prayer and meditation. Preached to the Indians, both forenoon and afternoon. They behaved soberly in general: two or three in particular appeared under some religious concern; with whom I discoursed privately; and one told me, "that her heart had cried, ever since she had heard me preach first.”
The next day, he complains of much desertion.
April 12. "Was greatly oppressed with grief and shame, reflecting on my past conduct, my bitterness and party zeal. I was ashamed, to think that such a wretch as 1 had ever preached. Longed to be excused from that work. And when my soul was not in anguish and keen distress, "I felt senseless as a beast before God," and felt a kind of guilty amusement with the least trifles; which still maintained a kind of stifled horror of conscience, so that I could not rest any more than a condemned malefactor.
April 13. My heart was overwhelmed within me: I verily thought that I was the meanest, vilest, most helpless, guilty, ignorant, benighted creature living. And yet I knew what God had done for my soul, at the same time: though sometimes I was assaulted with damping doubts and fears, whether it was possible for such a wretch as I to be in a state of grace. April 14. "Remained much in the same state as yester
April 15. "In the forenoon, very disconsolate. In the afternoon, preached to my people, and was a little encouraged
in some hopes that God might bestow mercy on their souls. Felt somewhat resigned to God under all dispensations of his providence.
April 16. Still in the depths of distress. In the afternoon, preached to my people; but was more discouraged with them than before; feared that nothing would ever be done for them to any happy effect. I retired, and poured out my soul to God for mercy; but without any sensible relief. Soon after came an Irishman and a Dutchman, with a design, as they said to hear me preach the next day; but none can tell how I felt, to hear their profane talk. OI longed that some dear Christian knew my distress. I got into a kind of hovel, and there groaned out my complaint to God; and withal felt more sensible gratitude and thankfulness to God, that he had made me to differ from these men, as I knew through grace he had.
Lord's day, April 17. "In the morning, was again distressed as soon as I awaked, hearing much talk about the world, and the things of it. I perceived that the men were in some measure afraid of me; and I discoursed about sanctifying the Sabbath, if possible to solemnize their minds; but when they were at a little distance, they again talked freely about secular affairs. OI thought what a hell it would be, to live with such men to eternity! The Lord gave me some assistance in preaching, all day, and some resignation, and a small degree of comfort in prayer, at night.”
He continued in this disconsolate frame the next day.
April 19. "In the morning, I enjoyed some sweet repose and rest in God; felt some strength and confidence in him; and my soul was in some measure refreshed and comforted. Spent most of the day in writing, and had some exercise of grace, sensible and comfortable. My soul seemed lifted above the deep waters, wherein it has been so long almost drowned; felt some spiritual longings and breathings of soul after God; and found myself engaged for the advancement of Christ's kingdom in my own soul.
April 20. "Set apart this day for fasting and prayer, to bow my soul before God for the bestowment of divine grace; especially that all my spiritual afflictions, and inward distresses, might be sanctified to my soul. And endeavoured also to remember the goodness of God to me the year past, this day being my birth day. Having obtained help of God, I have hitherto lived, and am now arrived at the age of twenty-five years. My soul was pained to think of my barrenness and deadness ; that I have lived so little to the glory of the eternal God. I spent the day in the woods alone, and there poured
out my complaint to God. Oh that God would enable me to live to his glory for the future!
April 21. "Spent the forenoon in reading and prayer, and found myself engaged; but still much depressed in spirit under a sense of my vileness, and unfitness for any public service. In the afternoon, I visited my people, and prayed and conversed with some about their souls' concerns: and afterwards found some ardour of soul in secret prayer. Oh that I might grow up into the likeness of God!
April 22. "Spent the day in study, reading, and prayer ; and felt a little relieved of my burden, that has been so heavy of late. But still was in some measure oppressed; and had a sense of barrenness. 0 my leanness testifies against me! my very soul abhors itself for its unlikeness to God, its inactivity and sluggishness. When I have done all, alas, what an unprofitable servant am I! My soul groans to see the hours of the day roll away, because I do not fill them in spirituality and heavenly-mindedness. And yet I long that they should speed their pace, to hasten me to my eternal home, where I may fill up all my moments, through eternity, for God and his glory."
On Saturday and Lord's day, his melancholy again prevailed; he complained of his ignorance, stupidity, and senselessness; while yet he seems to have spent the time with the ut most diligence, in study, in prayer, in instructing and counseling the Indians. On Monday, he sunk into the deepest melancholy; so that he supposed he never spent a day in such distress in his life; not in fears of hell, (which, he says, he had no pressing fear of) but a distressing sense of his own vileness, On Tuesday, he expresses some relief. Wednesday, he kept as a day of fasting and prayer, but in great distress. The three days next following, his melancholy continued, but in a less degree, and with intervals of comfort. On the last of these days, he wrote the following letter to his brother John, then a student at Yale College, New-Haven.
Kaunaumeek, April 30, 1743.
I should tell you, "I long to see you," but my own experience has taught me, that there is no happiness, and plenary satisfaction to be enjoyed in earthly friends, though ever so near and dear, or in any other enjoyment, that is not God himself. Therefore, if the God of all grace be pleased graciously to afford us each his presence and grace, that we may perform the work, and endure the trials he calls us to, in a most distressing tiresome wilderness, till we arrive at our journey's end; the local distance, at which we are held from each other,
at present is a matter of no great moment or importance to either of us. But alas! the presence of God is what I want. I live in the most lonely melancholy desert, about eighteen miles from Albany; for it was not thought best that I should go to Delaware River, as I believe I hinted to you in a letter from New-York. I board with a poor Scotchman: his wife can talk scarce any English. My diet consists mostly of hastypudding, boiled corn, and bread baked in the ashes, and sometimes a little meat and butter. My lodging is a little heap of straw, laid upon some boards, a little way from the ground; for it is a log room, without any floor, that I lodge in. My work is exceedingly hard and difficult: I travel on foot a mile and a half, the worst of ways, almost daily, and back again; for I live so far from my Indians. I have not seen an English person this month. These, and many other circumstances, equally uncomfortable, attend me; and yet my spiritual conflicts and distresses, so far exceed all these, that I scarce think of them, or hardly observe that I am not entertained in the most sumptuous manner. The Lord grant that I may learn to "endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ!" As to my success here, I cannot say much as yet. The Indians seem generally kind, and well disposed towards me, are mostly very attentive to my instructions, and seem willing to be taught further. Two or three, I hope, are under some convictions; but there seems to be little of the special workings of the divine Spirit among them yet; which gives me many a heart-sinking hour. Sometimes I hope that God has abundant blessings in store for them and me; but at other times I am so overwhelmed with distress, that I cannot see how his dealings with me are consistent with covenant love and faithfulness and I say, "Surely his tender mercies are clean gone for ever." But however, I see that I needed all this chastisement already: "It is good for me," that I have endured these trials, and have hitherto little or no apparent success. Do not be discouraged by my distresses. I was under great distress, at Mr. Pomroy's, when I saw you last; but "God has been with me of a truth," since that he helped me sometimes sweetly at LongIsland, and elsewhere. But let us always remember, that we must through much tribulation, enter into God's eternal kingdom of rest and peace. The righteous are scarcely saved: it is an infinite wonder that we have well grounded hopes of being saved at all. For my part, I feel the most vile of any creature living; and I am sure sometimes, there is not such another existing on this side hell. Now all you can do for me, is, to pray incessantly, that God would make me humble, holy, resigned, and heavenly minded, by all my trials. "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." Let us run, wrestle, and fight, that we may win the prize, and obtain that