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From the time of his Examination and Commission as a Missionary, to his entrance on his Mission among the Indians at Kaunaumeek.
Nov. 26, 1742. "Had still a sense of my great vileness, and endeavoured as much as I could to keep alone. O what a nothing, what dust and ashes am 1! Enjoyed some peace and comfort in spreading my complaints before the God of all grace.
Nov. 27. "Committed my soul to God with some degree of comfort; left New-York about nine in the morning; came away with a distressing sense still of my unspeakable unworthiness. Surely I may well love all my brethren; for none of them all is so vile as I whatever they do outwardly, yet it seems to me none is so conscious of so much guilt before God. O my leanness, my barrenness; my carnality, and past bitterness, and want of a gospel temper! gospel temper! These things oppress my soul. Rode from New-York, thirty miles, to White Plains, and most of the way continued lifting up my heart to God for mercy and purifying grace: and spent the evening much dejected in spirit."
The three next days, he continued in this frame, in a great sense of his own vileness, with an evident mixture of melancholy, in no small degree; but had some intervals of comfort and God's sensible presence with him.
Dec. 1. "My soul breathed after God, in sweet spiritual and longing desires of conformity to him; my soul was brought to rest itself and all, on his rich grace, and felt strength and encouragement to do or suffer any thing that divine providence should allot me. Rode about twenty miles from Stratfield to Newtown."
Within the space of the next nine days, he went a journey from Newtown to Haddam, his native town; and after staying there some days, returned again into the western part of Connecticut, and came to Southbury. In his account of the frames and exercises of his mind, during this space of time, are such
things as these; frequent turns of dejection; a sense of his vileness, emptiness, and an unfathomable abyss of desperate wickedness in his heart, attended with a conviction that he had never seen but little of it; bitterly mourning over his barrenness, being greatly grieved that he could not live to God, to whom he owed his all ten thousand times, crying out, "My Icanness, my leanness!" a sense of the meetness and suitableness of his lying in the dust beneath the feet of infinite_majesty; fervency and ardour in prayer; longing to live to God; being afflicted with some impertinent, trifling conversation that he heard ; but enjoying sweetness in Christian conversation.
Dec. 11. "Conversed with a dear friend, to whom I had thought of giving a liberal education, and being at the whole charge of it, that he might be fitted for the gospel ministry.* I acquainted him with my thoughts in that matter, and so left him to consider of it, till I should see him again. Then I rode to Bethlehem, came to Mr. Bellamy's lodgings, and spent the evening with him in sweet conversation and prayer. We recommended the concern of sending my friend to college to the God of all grace. Blessed be the Lord for this evening's opportunity together.
Lord's day, Dec. 12. "I felt, in the morning, as if I had little or no power either to pray or to preach; and felt a distressing need of divine help. I went to meeting trembling; but it pleased God to assist me in prayer and sermon. I think my soul scarce ever penetrated so far into the immaterial world, in any one prayer that I ever made, nor were my devotions ever so free from gross conceptions and imaginations framed from beholding material objects. I preached with some sweetness, from Matt. vi. 33. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, &c.; and in the afternoon, from Rom. xv. 30. And now I beseech you brethren, &c. There was much affection in the assembly. This has been a sweet Sabbath to me; and blessed be God, I have reason to think that my religion is become more spiritual, by means of my late inward conflicts. Amen. May I always be willing that God should use his own methods with me!
*BRAINERD, having now undertaken the business of a missionary to the Indians, and expecting in a little time to leave his native country, to go among the savages into the wilderness, far distant, and spend the remainder of his life among them-and having some estate left him by his father, and thinking he should have no occasion for it among them. (though afterwards, as he told me, he found himself mistaken,)-set himself to think which way he might spend it most for the glory of God; and no way presenting to his thoughts, wherein he could do more good with it, than by being at the charge of educating some young person for the ministry, who appeared to be of good abilities, and well disposed, he fixed upon the person here spoken of to this end. Accordingly he was soon put to learning; and BRAINERD continued to be at the charge of his education from year to year, so long as he lived, which was till this young man was carried through his third year in college.
Dec. 13. "Joined in prayer with Mr. Bellamy; and found sweetness and composure in parting with him, as he went a journey. Enjoyed some sweetness through the day; and just at night rode down to Woodbury.
Dec. 14. "Some perplexity hung on my mind; I was distressed last night and this morning for the interest of Zion, especially on account of the false appearances of religion, that do but rather breed confusion, especially in some places. I cried to God for help, to enable me to bear testimony against those things, which, instead of promoting, do but hinder the progress of vital piety. In the afternoon, rode down to Southbury; and conversed again with my friend about the important affair of his pursuing the work of the ministry; and he appeared much inclined to devote himself to that work, if God should succeed his attempts to qualify himself for so great a work. In the evening I preached from 1 Thess. iv. 8. He therefore that despiseth, &c. and endeavoured, though with tenderness, to undermine false religion. The Lord gave me some assistance; but, however, I seemed so vile, I was ashamed to be seen when I came out of the meeting-house.
Dec. 15. Enjoyed something of God to-day, both in secret and in social prayer; but was sensible of much barrenness and defect in duty, as well as my inability to help myself for the time to come, or to perform the work and business I have to do. Afterwards, felt much of the sweetness of religion, and the tenderness of the gospel-temper. I found a dear love to all mankind, and was much afraid lest some motion of anger or resentment should, some time or other, creep into my heart. Had some comforting, soul-refreshing discourse with dear friends, just as we took our leave of each other; and supposed it might be likely we should not meet again till we came to the eternal world.* I doubt not, through grace, but that some of us shall have a happy meeting there, and bless God for this season, as well as many others. Amen.
Dec. 16. "Rode down to Derby; and had some sweet thoughts on the road: especially on the essence of our salvation by Christ, from these words, Thou shalt call his name Jesus, &c.
Dec. 17. "Spent much time in sweet conversation on spiritual things with dear Mr. Humphreys. Rode to Ripton; spent some time in prayer with dear Christian friends.
Dec. 18. "Spent much time in prayer in the woods; and
*It had been determined by the commissioners, who employed BRAINERD as a missionary, that he should go as soon as might be, conveniently, to the Indians living near the Forks of Delaware river, in Pennsylvania, and the Indians on Susquehannah river; which being far off, where also he would be exposed to many hardships and dangers, was the occasion of his taking leave of his friends in this manner.
seemed raised above the things of the world: my soul was strong in the Lord of hosts; but was sensible of great bar
Lord's day, Dec. 19. "At the sacrament of the Lord's supper I seemed strong in the Lord; and the world, with all its frowns and flatteries, in a great measure disappeared, so that my soul had nothing to do with them; and I felt a disposition to be wholly and for ever the Lord's.-In the evening, enjoyed something of the divine presence; had a humbling sense of my vileness, barrenness, and sinfulness. Oh, it wounded me to think of the misimprovement of time! God be merciful to me a sinner.
Dec. 20. 66 Spent this day in prayer, reading, and writing; and enjoyed some assistance, especially in correcting some thoughts on a certain subject; but had a mournful sense of my barrenness.
Dec. 21. "Had a sense of my insufficiency for any public work and business, as well as to live to God. I rode over to Derby, and preached there. It pleased God to give me very sweet assistance and enlargement, and to enable me to speak with a soft, tender power and energy.-We had afterwards a comfortable evening in singing and prayer. God enabled me to pray with as much spirituality and sweetness as I have done for some time: my mind seemed to be unclothed of sense and imagination, and was in a measure let into the immaterial world of spirits. This day was, I trust, through infinite goodness, made very profitable to a number of us, to advance our souls in holiness and conformity to God: the glory be to him for ever. Amen. How blessed is it to grow more and more like God.
Dec. 22. 66 Enjoyed some assistance in preaching at Ripton; but my soul mourned within me for my barrenness.
Dec. 23. "Enjoyed, I trust, the presence of God this morning in secret. Oh, how divinely sweet is it to come into the secret of his presence, and abide in his pavilion!-Took an affectionate leave of friends, not expecting to see them again for a very considerable time, if ever in this world. Rode with Mr. Humphreys to his house in Derby; spent the time in sweet conversation; my soul was refreshed and sweetly melted with divine things. Oh that I was always consecrated to God! Near night, I rode to New-Haven, and there enjoyed some sweetness in prayer and conversation, with some dear Christian friends. My mind was sweetly serious and composed; but alas! I too much lost the sense of divine things."
He continued much in the same frame of mind, and in like exercises, the two following days.
Lord's Day, Dec. 26. "Felt much sweetness and tenderness in prayer, especially my whole soul seemed to love my worst. enemies, and was enabled to pray for those that are strangers and enemies to God, with a great degree of softness and pathetic fervour. In the evening, rode from New-Haven to Branford, after I had kneeled down and prayed with a number of dear Christian friends in a very retired place in the woods, and so parted.
Dec. 27. "Enjoyed a precious season indeed; had a sweet melting sense of divine things, of the pure spirituality of the religion of Christ Jesus. In the evening, I preached from Matt. vi. 33. But seek ye first, &c. with much freedom, and sweet power and pungency: the presence of God attended our meeting. Oh, the sweetness, the tenderness I felt in my soul! If ever I felt the temper of Christ, I had some sense of it now. Blessed be my God, I have seldom enjoyed a more comfortable and profitable day than this. Oh, that I could spend all my time for God!
Dec. 28. "Rode from Branford to Haddam. In the morning my clearness and sweetness in divine things continued: but afterwards my spiritual life sensibly declined."
The next twelve days, he was for the most part extremely dejected, discouraged, and distressed; and was evidently very much under the power of melancholy. There are from day to day most bitter complaints of exceeding vileness, ignorance, and corruption; an amazing load of guilt, unworthiness, even to creep on God's earth, everlasting uselessness, fitness for nothing, &c. and sometimes expressions even of horror at the thoughts of ever preaching again. But yet, in this time of great dejection, he speaks of several intervals of divine help and comfort.
The three next days, which were spent at Hebron and the Crank, (a parish in Lebanon,) he had relief, and enjoyed considerable comfort.
Jan. 14, 1743. "My spiritual conflicts to-day were unspeakbly dreadful, heavier than the mountains and overflowing floods. I seemed inclosed, as it were, in hell itself: I was deprived of all sense of God, even of the being of a God; and that was my misery. I had no awful apprehensions of God as angry. This was distress, the nearest akin to the damned's torments, that I ever endured: their torment, I am sure, will consist much in a privation of God, and consequently of all good. This taught me the absolute dependence of a creature upon God the Creator, for every crumb of happiness it enjoys. Oh, I feel that, if there is no God, though I might live for ever here, and enjoy not only this, but all other worlds, I should be