Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

principal design of your ministry; for this you are to labour with unwearied application, and with incessant importunity to approach the throne of that God, whose peculiar prerogative it is "to teach us to profit;" whose grace alone can make them" a willing people in the day of his power."

And for your encouragement, I will only add: When I consider the many prophecies, in sacred scripture, of the triumphant progress of the gospel in the last ages of the world, I cannot but lift up my head with joy, in an humble expectation, that the day draws near, yea, is even at hand, when the promises made to the Son of God shall be more illustriously fulfilled:-"when he shall have the Heathen for his inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for his possession; when his name shall be great among the Gentiles, and be honoured and adored from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same.' But if the appointed time is not yet come, and the attempts made to introduce this glorious day, fail of desired success, "your judgment will be with the Lord, and your reward with your God." If the Gentiles "be not gathered" in, you will "be glorious in the eyes of the Lord," who accepts and rewards his servants according to the sincerity of their desires, and not according to the success of their endeavours.

I shall conclude with a few words to the body of the people. God our Saviour, in infinite condescension, hath sent his servants to invite you to come in, and receive the blessings which infinite wisdom has contrived, and astonishing grace prepared for your entertainment. And surely, my brethren, it is your important duty and incomparable interest, not to despise "the salvation of God sent unto the Gentiles," nor make light of the gospel message to you.

:

God has been pleased to employ us the messengers of his grace, men of like passions with yourselves, subject to the common infirmities of human nature but the message comes from him, who is King of kings and Lord of lords; whom you are under the strongest obligations to hear and obey, in point of interest, gratitude, and duty.

[ocr errors]

What gracious and condescending methods has he taken to allure and invite you! has he not descended from heaven to earth; from the boundless glories of eternity to all the sufferings and afflictions of this mortal life, that he might purchase and reveal salvation; that he might engage your love, and persuade you to comply with his saving designs? Does he not send his "ambassadors to beseech you in his stead, to be reconciled to God?"

What excuses have you to make, that will stand the trial of an enlightened conscience, or justify you at the awful tribunal of God? will the vanishing enjoyments of sin and sense, or the perishing riches of this transitory world, make amends for the

loss of the divine favour, or support you under the terrors of eternal damnation ?-Are there any honours comparable to the dignity and character of a child of God, and a title to the privileges of his house and family? Are there any pleasures equal to the smiles of God's reconciled face, the refreshing visits of his love, and the immortal joys of his salvation?

But how deplorable, how desperate will be your case, if you finally refuse the gospel-invitation, and perish in your natural state of guilt and misery? the compassionate Jesus, who now addresses you in the inviting language of love, will then speak to you with the voice of terror, and "swear in his wrath, that you shall never enter into his rest, that you shall never taste of his supper," the rich provision which he has made for the eternal entertainment of his guests. "When once the Master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door," you will in vain stand without and knock for admission.

In a word, Now, he declares by his servants, that "all things are ready," and all that are bidden shall be welcome, upon their coming in, to be partakers of the benefit. The blood of Christ is now ready, to cleanse you from all your guilt and pollution; his righteousness is now ready to adorn your naked souls with the garment of salvation; his Spirit is now ready to take possession of you, and make you eternal monuments of victorious and redeeming grace. "The Spirit and the bride say, Come; and whosoever (of the lost and perishing sons of Adam) will, let him come," and participate of the blessings of the gospel "freely, without money, and without price." The arms of everlasting mercy are open to receive you: the treasures of divine grace are open to supply your wants: and every one of you that now sincerely accepts this gracious invitation, shall hereafter be admitted" to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven."-For which, God of his infinite mercy prepare us all, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory and dominion world without end. Amen.

[blocks in formation]

PREFACE.

THERE are two ways of recommending true religion and virtue to the world the one, by doctrine and precept; the other by history and example. Both are abundantly used in the holy scriptures. Not only are the grounds. nature, design, and importance of religion clearly exhibited in the doctrines of scripture-its exercise and practice plainly delineated, and abundantly enforced, in its commands and counsels-but there we have many excellent examples of religion, in its power and practice, set before us, in the histories both of the Old and New Testament.

JESUS CHRIST, the great Prophet of God, when he came to be "the light of the world."-to teach and enforce true religion, in a greater degree than ever had been done before-made use of both these methods. In his doctrine, he not only declared more fully the mind and will of God-the nature and properties of that virtue. which becomes creatures of our constitution, and in our circumstances, and more powerfully enforced it by exhibiting the obligations and inducements to holiness; but he also in his own practice gave a most perfect example of the virtue which he taught. He exhibited to the world such an illustrious pattern of humility, divine love, discreet zeal, self-denial, obedience, patience, resignation, fortitude, meekness, forgiveness, compassion, benevolence, and universal holiness, as neither men nor angels ever saw before.

God also in his providence, has been wont to make use of both these methods to hold forth light to mankind, and inducements to their duty, in all ages. He has from time to time raised up eminent teachers, to exhibit and bear testimony to the truth by their doctrine, and to oppose the errors, darkness, and wickedness of the world; and he has also raised up some eminent persons who have set bright examples of that religion which is taught and prescribed in the word of God; whose examples have, in the course of divine providence, been set forth to public view. These have a great tendency both to engage the attention of men to the doctrines and rules taught, and also to confirm and enforce them; especially when these bright examples have been exhibited in the same persons who have been eminent teachers. Hereby the world has had opportunity to see a confirmation of the truth, efficacy, and amiableness of the religion taught, in the practice of the same persons who have most clearly and forcibly taught it; and above all, when these bright examples have been set by eminent teachers, in a variety of unusual circumstances of remarkable trial; and when God has withal, remarkably distinguished them with wonderful success in their instructions and labours.

Such an instance we have in the excellent person whose life is published in the following pages. His example is attended with a great variety of circumstances calculated to engage the attention of religious people, especially in America. He was a man of distinguished talents, as all are sensible who knew him. As a minister of the gospel, he was called to unusual services in that work; and his ministry was attended with very remarkable and unusual events. His course of religion began before the late times of extraordinary religious. commotion; yet he was not an idle spectator. but had a near concern in many things that passed at that time. He had a very extensive acquaintance with those who have been the subjects of the late religious operations, in places far distant, in people of different nations, education, manners, and customs. He had a peculiar opportunity of acquaintance with the false appearances and counterfeits of religion; was the instrument of a most remarkable awakening, a wonderful and abiding alteration and moral transformation of subjects, who peculiarly render the change rare and astonishing.

In the following account, the reader will have an opportunity to see, not only what were the external circumstances and remarkable incidents of the life of this person, and how he spent his time from day to day, as to his external behaviour, but also what passed in his own heart. Here he will see the wonderful change he experienced in his mind and disposition; the manner in which that change was brought to pass; how it continued; and what were its consequences in his inward frames, thoughts, affections, and secret exercises, through many vicissitudes and trials, for more than eight years.

He will also see his sentiments, frame, and behaviour, during a long season of the gradual and sensible approach of death; and what were the effects of his religion in the last stages of his illness. The account being written, the reader may have opportunity at his leisure to compare the various parts of the story, and deliberately to view and weigh the whole, and consider how far what is related, is agreeable to the dictates of reason, and the Word of God.

I am far from supposing, that BRAINERD's inward exercises or his external conduct, were free from all imperfections. The example of Jesus Christ, is the only perfect example that ever existed in human nature. It is, therefore, a rule by which to try all other examples; and the dispositions, frames, and practices of others, must be commended and followed no further, than they were followers of Christ.

There is one thing in BRAINERD, easily discernible by the following account of his life, which may be called an imperfection in him, which, though not properly an imperfection of a moral nature, yet, may possibly be made an objection against the extraordinary appearances of religion and devotion in him, by such as seek for objections against every thing that can be produced in favour of true, vital religion; I refer to the fact, that he was, by his constitution and natural temper, so prone to melancholy, and dejection of spirit. There are some, who think that all religion is a melancholy thing; and that what is called Christian experience is little else besides melancholy vapours, disturbing the brain, and exciting enthusiastic imaginations. But that BRAINERD's temper or constitution inclined

« ElőzőTovább »