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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. O 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, &c. 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,
As The Indians
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!" to my success here, I cannot say much as yet. 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
complete happiness, to be "holy, as God is holy." So wishing and praying that you may advance in learning and grace, and be fit for special service for God, I remain your affectionate brother, DAVID BRAINERD.
Lord's day, May 1. "Was at Stockbridge to-day. In the forenoon, had some relief and assistance; though not so much as usual. In the afternoon, felt poorly in body and soul; while I was preaching, seemed to be rehearsing idle tales, without the least life, fervour, sense, or comfort; and especially afterwards at the sacrament, my soul was filled with confusion, and the utmost anguish that ever I endured, under the feeling of my inexpressible vileness and meanness. It was a most bitter and distressing season to me, by reason of the view I had of my own heart, and the secret abominations that lurk there: I thought that the eyes of all in the house were upon me, and I dared not look any one in the face; for it verily seemed as if they saw the vileness of my heart, and all the sins I had ever been guilty of. And if I had been banished from the presence of all mankind, never to be seen any more, or so much as thought of, still I should have been distressed with shame; and I should have been ashamed to see the most barbarous people on earth, because I was viler, and seemingly more brutishly ignorant than they. "I am made to possess the sins of my youth."
The remaining days of this week were spent, for the most part, in inward distress and gloominess. The next Sabbath, he had encouragement, assistance, and comfort; but on Monday sunk again.
May 10. "Was in the same state, as to my mind, that I have been in for some time; extremely oppressed with a sense of guilt, pollution, and blindness: "The iniquity of my heels hath compassed me about: the sins of my youth have been set in order before me; they have gone over my head, as a heavy burden, too heavy for me to bear." Almost all the actions of my life past, seem to be covered over with sin and guilt; and those of them that I performed in the most conscientious manner, now fill me with shame and confusion, that I cannot hold up my face. O, the pride, selfishness, hypocrisy, ignorance, bitterness, party zeal and the want of love, candour, meekness, and gentleness, that have attended my attempts to promote religion and virtue; and this when I have reason to hope I had real assistance from above, and some sweet intercourse from heaven! But alas, what corrupt mixtures attended my best duties!"
The next seven days, his gloom and distress continued for the most part, but he had some turns of relief and spiritual comfort. He gives an account of his spending part of this time in hard labour, to build himself a little cottage to live in amongst the Indians, in which he might be by himself; having, it seems, hitherto lived with a poor Scotchman, as he observes in the letter just now given; and afterwards, before his own house was habitable, he lived in a wigwam among the Indians."
May 18. "My circumstances are such, that I have no comfort of any kind, but what I have in God. I live in the most lonesome wilderness; have but one single person to converse with that can speak English.* Most of the talk I hear, is either Highland Scotch, or Indian. I have no fellow-christian to whom I may unbosom myself, or lay open my spiritual sorrows; with whom I may take sweet counsel in conversation about heavenly things, and join in social prayer. I live poorly with regard to the comforts of life: most of my diet consists of boiled corn, hasty-pudding, &c. I lodge on a bundle of straw, my labour is hard and extremely difficult, and I have little appearance of success, to comfort me. The Indians have no land to live on, but what the Dutch people lay claim to; and these threaten to drive them off. They have no regard to the souls of the poor Indians; and by what I can learn, they hate me because I come to preach to them. But that which makes all my difficulties grievous to be borne, is, that God hides his face from me.
May 19. "Spent most of this day in close study: but was sometimes so distressed that I could think of nothing but my spiritual blindness, ignorance, pride, and misery. OI have reason to make that prayer, "Lord, forgive my sins of youth, and former trespasses.
May 20." Was much perplexed some part of the day but towards night, had some comfortable meditations on Is. xl. 1. Comfort ye, Comfort ye, &c. and enjoyed some sweetness in prayer. Afterwards, my soul rose so far above the deep waters, that I dared to rejoice in God. I saw that there was sufficient matter of consolation in the blessed God."
The next nine days, his burdens were for the most part alleviated, but with variety; at some times, having considerable
This person was BRAINERD'S interpreter, an ingenious young Indian, belonging to Stockbridge, whose name was John Wauwaumpequunnaunt. He had been instructed in the Christian religion, by Mr. Sergeant; had lived with the Rev. Mr. Williams, of Long-Meadow; had been further instructed by him at the charge of Mr. Hollis of London; and understood both English and Indian very well, and wrote a good hand.
consolation; and at others, being more depressed. The next day, Monday, May 30, he set out on a journey to New Jersey, to consult the commissioners who employed him about the affairs of his mission.* He performed his journey thither in four days; and arrived at Mr. Burr's in Newark on Thursday. In great part of his journey, he was in the depths of melancholy, under distresses like those already mentioned. On Friday, he rode to Elizabeth town: and on Saturday to New York; and from thence on his way homewards as far as White Plains. There he spent the Sabbath, and had considerable degrees of divine consolation and assistance in public services. On Monday, he rode about sixty miles to New Haven. There he attempted a reconciliation with the Faculty of the college; and spent this week in visiting his friends in those parts, and in his journey homewards, till Saturday, in a pretty comfortable frame of mind. On Saturday, in his way from Stockbridge to Kaunaumeek, he was lost in the woods, and lay all night in the open air; but happily found his way in the morning, and came to his Indians on Lord's day, June 12, and had greater assistance in preaching among them than ever before, since his first coming among them.
From this time forward he was the subject of various frames and exercises of mind: in the general, much after the same manner as hitherto, from his first coming to Kaunaumeek till he got into his own house, (a little hut, which he made chiefly with his own hands, by long and hard labour,) which was near seven weeks from this time. The great part of this time, he was dejected, and depressed with melancholy; sometimes extremely; his melancholy operating in like manner, as related in times past. How it was with him in those dark seasons, he himself further describes in his diary for July 2, in the following manner. "My soul is, and has for a long time been in a piteous condition, wading through a series of sorrows, of various kinds. I have been so crushed down sometimes with a sense of my meanness and infinite unworthiness, that I have been ashamed that any, even the meanest of my fellow-creatures, should so much as spend a thought about me; and have wished sometimes, while travelling among the thick brakes, to drop, as one of them, into everlasting oblivion. In this case, sometimes I have almost resolved never again to see any of my acquaintance: and really thought, I could not do it and hold up my face; and have longed for the remotest region, for a retreat from all my friends, that I might not be seen or heard of any more. Sometimes the consideration of my ignorance has been a means of my great distress and anxiety. And es
* His business with the commissioners now was, to obtain orders for them to set up a school among the Indians at Kaunaumeek, and that his interpreter might be appointed the schoolmaster, which was accordingly done.