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kiah Brainerd, Esq.; a justice of the peace, and for several years past, a representative of the town of Haddam, in the general assembly of Connecticut; the second was the Rev. Nehemiah Brainerd, a worthy minister at Eastbury in Connecticut, who died of a consumption, Nov. 10, 1742; the fourth is Mr. John Brainerd, who succeeds his brother David, as missionary to the Indians, and pastor of the same church of Christian Indians in New Jersey; and the fifth was Israel, lately student at YaleCollege, in New-Haven, who died since his brother David.Mrs. Dorothy Brainerd having lived about five years a widow, died when her son, of whose life I am about to give an account, was about fourteen years of age: so that in his youth he was left both fatherless and motherless. What account he has given of himself, and his own life, may be seen in what follows.*
"I was from my youth somewhat sober, and inclined to melancholy; but do not remember any thing of conviction of sin, worthy of remark, till I was I believe about seven or eight years of age. Then I became concerned for my soul, and terrified at the thoughts of death; and was driven to the performance of religious duties; but it appeared a melancholy business, that destroyed my eagerness for play. And though, alas! this religious concern was but short-lived, I sometimes attended secret prayer; and thus lived at "ease in Zion, without God in the world," and without much concern, as I remem ber, till I was above thirteen years of age. In the winter of 1732, I was roused out of this carnal security, by I scarce know what means at first; but was much excited by the prevalence of a mortal sickness in Haddam. I was frequent, constant, and somewhat fervent in prayer; and took delight in reading, especially Mr. JANEWAY's Token for children. I felt sometimes much melted in the duties of religion, took great delight in the performance of them, and sometimes hoped that I was converted, or at least in a good and hopeful way for heaven and happiness; not knowing what conversion was. The Spirit of God at this time proceeded far with me. I was remarkably dead to the world; my thoughts were almost wholly employed about my soul's concerns; and I may indeed say, "Almost I was persuaded to be a Christian." I was also exceedingly distressed and melancholy at the death of my mother, in March, 1732. But afterwards my religious concern began to decline, and by degrees I fell back into a considerable degree of security, though I still attended secret prayer.
* In Mr. BRAINERD's account of himself here, and continued in his Diary, the reader will find a growing interest and pleasure as he proceeds; in which is beautifully exemplified what the inspired penman declares, "The path of the just is as the morning light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." And indeed even his diction and style of writing assume a gradual improvement.
"About the 15th of April, 1733, I removed from my father's house to East-Haddam, where I spent four years; but still "without God in the world," though, for the most part, I went a round of secret duty. I was not much addicted to the company and amusements of the young; but this I know, that when I did go into such company, I never returned with so good a conscience as when I went. It always added new guilt, made me afraid to come to the throne of grace, and spoiled those good frames with which I was wont sometimes to please myself.
But, alas! all my good frames were but self-righteousness, not founded on a desire for the glory of God.
"About the latter end of April, 1737, being full nineteen years of age, I removed to Durham, to work on my farm, and so continued about one year; frequently longing, from mere natural principles, after a liberal education. When about twenty years of age, I applied myself to study; and was now engaged more than ever in the duties of religion. I became very strict and watchful over my thoughts, words, and actions; concluded that I must be sober indeed, because I designed to devote myself to the ministry, and imagined that I did dedicate myself to the Lord.
"Sometime in April, 1738, I went to Mr. Fiske's, and lived with him during his life.* I remember he advised me wholly to abandon young company, and associate myself with grave elderly people: which counsel I followed. My manner of life was now wholly regular, and full of religion, such as it was; for I read my Bible more than twice through in less then a year, spent much time every day in prayer and other secret duties, gave great attention to the word preached, and endeavoured to my utmost to retain it. So much concerned was I about religion, that I agreed with some young persons to meet privately on sabbath evenings for religious exercises, and thought myself sincere in these duties; and after our meeting was ended I used to repeat the discourses of the day to myself; recollecting what I could, though sometimes very late at night. I used occasionally on Monday mornings to recollectt he same sermons; experienced a considerable degree of enjoyment in prayer, and had many thoughts of joining the church. In short, I had a very good outside, and rested entirely on my duties; though I was not sensible of it.
"After Mr. Fiske's death, I proceeded in my studies with my brother; was still very constant in religious duties, often wondered at the levity of professors, and lamented their carelessness in religious matters.-Thus I proceeded a considerable length on a self-righteous foundation; and should have been
* Mr. Fiske was the pastor of the church in Haddam.
entirely lost and undone, had not the mere mercy of God prevented.
"Sometime in the beginning of winter, 1738, it pleased God, one Sabbath morning, as I was walking out for prayer, to give me on a sudden such a sense of my danger, and the wrath of God, that I stood amazed, and my former good frames presently vanished. From the view which I had of my sin and vileness, I was much distressed all that day, fearing that the vengeance of God would soon overtake me. I was much dejected; kept much alone; and sometimes envied the birds and beasts their happiness, because they were not exposed to eternal misery, as I evidently saw that I was. Thus I lived from day to day, being frequently in great distress: sometimes there appeared mountains before me to obstruct my hopes of mercy; and the work of conversion appeared so great, that I thought I should never be the subject of it. I used, however, to pray and cry to God, and perform other duties with great earnestness, and thus hoped by some means to make the case better.
"Hundreds of times I renounced all pretences of any worth in my duties, as I thought, even while performing them, and often confesed to God that I deserved nothing for the very best of them, but eternal condemnation ; yet still I had a secret hope of recommending myself to God by my religious duties. When I prayed affectionately, and my heart seemed in some measure to melt, I hoped that God would be thereby moved to pity me.
My prayers then looked with some appearance of goodness in them, and I seemed to mourn for sin. Then I could in some measure venture on the mercy of God in Christ, as I thought; though the preponderating thought, the foundation of my hope, was some imagination of goodness in my meltings of heart, the warmth of my affections, and my extraordinary enlargements in prayer. Though at times the gate appeared so very strait, that it looked next to impossible to enter; yet, at other times, I flattered myself that it was not so very difficult, and hoped I should by diligence and watchfulness soon gain the point. Sometimes after enlargement in duty and considerable affection, I hoped I had made a good step towards heaven; and imagined that God was affected as I was, and would hear such sincere cries, as I called them. And so sometimes, when I withdrew for secret prayer in great distress, I returned comfortable; and thus healed myself with my duties.
"In February 1739, I set apart a day for secret fasting and prayer, and spent the day in almost incessant cries to God for mercy, that he would open my eyes to see the evil of sin, and the way of life by Jesus Christ. God was pleased that day to make considerable discoveries of my heart to me. Still I trusted in all the duties I performed, though there was no manner of goodness in them; there being in them no respect
to the glory of God, nor any such principle in my heart. Yet God was pleased to make my endeavours, that day, a means to show me my helplessness in some measure.
"Sometimes I was greatly encouraged, and imagined that God loved me, and was pleased with me,-and thought I should soon be fully reconciled to God. But the whole was founded on mere presumption, arising from enlargement in duty, or warmth of affections, or some good resolutions, or the like. And when, at times, great distress began to arise, on a sight of my vileness, and inability to deliver myself from a sovereign God, I used to put off the discovery, as what I could not bear. Once, I remember, a terrible pang of distress seized me; and the thought of renouncing myself, and standing naked before God, stripped of all goodness, was so dreadful to me, that I was ready to say to it, as Felix to Paul, "Go thy way for this time." Thus, though I daily longed for greater conviction of sin; supposing that I must see more of my dreadful state in order to a remedy; yet, when the discoveries of my vile, wicked heart, were made to me, the sight was so dreadful, and showed me so plainly my exposedness to damnation, that I could not endure it. I constantly strove after whatever qualifications I imagined others obtained before the reception of Christ, in order to recommend me to his favour. Sometimes I felt the power of a hard heart, and supposed it must be softened before Christ would accept of me; and when I felt any meltings of heart, I hoped now the work was almost done. Hence, when my distress still remained, I was wont to murmur at God's dealings with me; and thought, when others felt their hearts softened, God showed them mercy; but my distress remained still.
"At times I grew remiss and sluggish, without any great convictions of sin, for a considerable time together; but after such a season, convictions seized me more violently. One night I remember in particular, when I was walking solitarily abroad, I had opened to me such a view of my sin, that I feared the ground would cleave asunder under my feet, and become my grave; and would send my soul quick into hell, before I could get home. Though I was forced to go to bed, lest my distress should be discovered by others, which I much feared; yet I scarcely durst sleep at all, for I thought it would be a great wonder if I should be out of hell in the morning. And though my distress was sometimes thus great, yet I greatly dreaded the loss of convictions, and returning back to a state of carnal security, and to my former insensibility of impending wrath; which made me exceedingly exact in my behaviour, lest I should stifle the motions of God's Holy Spirit. When at any time I took a view of my convictions, and thought the degree of them to be considerable, I was wont to trust in them;
but this confidence, and the hopes of soon making some notable advances towards deliverance, would ease my mind, and I soon became more senseless and remiss.-Again, when I discerned my convictions to grow languid, and thought them about to leave me, this immediately alarmed and distressed me.Sometimes I expected to take a large step, and get very far to wards conversion, by some particular opportunity or means I had in view.
"The many disappointments, great distresses and perplexity which I experienced, put me into a most horrible frame of contesting with the Almighty; with an inward vehemence and virulence, finding fault with his ways of dealing with mankind. I found great fault with the imputation of Adam's sin to his posterity and my wicked heart often wished for some other way of salvation than by Jesus Christ. Being like the troubled sea, my thoughts confused, I used to contrive to escape the wrath of God by some other means. I had strange projects, full of atheism, contriving to disappoint God's designs and decrees concerning me, or to escape his notice, and hide myself from him. But when, upon reflection, I saw these projects were vain, and would not serve me, and that I could contrive nothing for my own relief; this would throw my mind into the most horrid frame, to wish there was no God, or to wish there were some other God that could control him. These thoughts and desires were the secret inclinations of my heart, frequently acting before I was aware; but, alas! they were mine, although I was frightened when I came to reflect on them. When I considered, it distressed me to think, that my heart was so full of enmity against God; and it made me tremble, lest his vengeance should suddenly fall upon me. I used before to imagine, that my heart was not so bad as the scriptures and some other books represented it. Sometimes I used to take much pains to work it up into a good frame, a humble submissive disposition; and hoped there was then some goodness in me. But, on a sudden, the thoughts of the strictness of the law, or the sovereignty of God, would so irritate the corruption of my heart, that I had so watched over, and hoped I had brought to a good frame, that it would break over all bounds, and burst forth on all sides, like floods of waters when they break down their dams.
"Being sensible of the necessity of deep humiliation in order to a saving interest in Christ, I used to set myself to produce in my own heart the convictions requisite in such a humiliation; as, a conviction that God would be just, if he cast me off for ever; that if ever God should bestow mercy on me, it would be mere grace, though I should be in distress many years first, and be never so much engaged in duty; and that God was not in the least obliged to pity me the more for all past duties,