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From the termination of his Missionary Labours to his Death.
ON Friday, March 20, 1747, about 11 A. M. he left Cranberry; little suspecting that he saw it and his beloved people for the last time. On Saturday, he came to Elizabethtown, enfeebled in health, and oppressed with melancholy. Here he continued a considerable time, labouring under the ravages of disease, and suffering from extreme depression of spirit.
March 28. “Was taken this morning with violent griping ains. These pains were extreme, and constant for several ours; so that it seemed impossible for me, without a miracle, to live twenty-four hours in such distress. . I lay confined to my bed the whole day, and in distressing pain, all the former part of it; but it pleased God to bless means for the abatement of my distress. Was exceedingly weakened by this pain, and continued so for several days following ; being exercised with a fever, cough, and nocturnal sweats. In this distressed case, so long as my head was free of vapoury confusions, death appeared agreeable to me. I looked on it as the end of toils, and an entrance into a place “where the weary are at rest;’ and think I had some relish for the entertainments of the heavenly state; so that by these I was allured and drawn, as well as driven by the fatigues of life. O, how happy it is, to be drawn by desires of a state of perfect holiness | April 4. “Was sunk and dejected, very restless and uneasy, by reason of the misimprovement of time; and yet knew not what to do. I longed to spend time in fasting and prayer, that I might be delivered from indolence and coldness in the things of God; but, alas, I had not bodily strength for these exercises' O, how blessed a thing it is to enjoy peace of conscience but how dreadful is a want of inward peace and composure of soul!. It is impossible, I find, to enjoy this happiness without redeeming time, and maintaining a spiritual frame of mind. Lord's day, April 5. “It grieved me to find myself so inconceivably barren. My soul thirsted for grace; but, alas, how far was I from obtaining what appeared to me so exceeding excellent! I was ready to despair of ever being a holy creature, and yet my soul was desirous of following hard after God; but never did I see myself so far from having apprehended, or being already perfect, as at this time. The Lord's supper being this day administered, I attended the ordinance: and though I saw in myself a dreadful emptiness, and want of grace, and saw myself as it were at an infinite distance from that purity which becomes the gospel, yet at the communion, especially at the dis; tribution of the bread, I enjoyed some warmth of affection, and felt a tender love to the brethren ; and, I think, to the glorious Redeemer, the first born among them. I endeavoured then to bring forth mine and his enemies, and slay them before him ; and found great freedom in begging deliverance from this spiritual death, as well as in asking divine favours for my friends and congregation, and the church of Christ in general. April 7. “ In the afternoon rode to Newark, to marry the Rev. Mr. Dickinson : * and in the evening, performed that service. Afterwards, rode home to Elizabethtown, in a pleasant frame, full of composure and sweetness. April 9. “Attended the ordination of Mr. Tucker, and af. terwards the examination of Mr. Smith : was in a comfortable frame of mind this day, and felt my heart, I think, sometimes in a spiritual frame. April 10. “Spent the forenoon in Presbyterial business. In the afternoon, rode to Elizabethtown ; found my brother John there : spent some time in conversation with him ; but was extremely weak and outdone, my spirits considerably sunk, and my mind dejected. April 13. “Assisted in examining my brother. In the eveming, was in a solemn, devout frame; but was much overdone and oppressed with a violent head-ach. April 14. “Was able to do little or nothing: spent some time with Mr. Byram and other friends. This day my brother went to my people. * April 15. “Found some freedom at the throne of grace se. veral times this day. In the afternoon, was very weak, and spent the time to very little purpose; yet in the evening, had, I thought, some religious warmth and spiritual desires in prayer. My soul seemed to go forth after God, and take complacence in his divine perfections. But, alas ! afterwards awfully let down my watch, and grew careless and secure. April 16. “Was in bitter anguish of soul, in the morning, such as I have scarce ever felt, with a sense of sin and guilt. I continued in distress the whole day, attempting to pray wherever I went ; and indeed could not help so doing; but looked upon myself so vile, that I dared not look any body in the face; and was even grieved, that any body should show me any respect, or that they should be so deceived as to think I deserved it. April 17. “In the evening, could not but think, that God helped me to ‘draw near to the throne of grace,” though most unworthy, and gave me a sense of his favour; which gave me inexpressible support and encouragement. Though I scarcely dared to hope that the mercy was real, it appeared so great; yet could not but rejoice, that ever God should discover his reconciled face to such a vile sinner. Shame and confusion, at times, covered me ; and then hope, and joy, and admiration of divine goodness gained the ascendant. Sometimes I could not but admire the divine goodness, that the Lord had not let me fall into all the grossest, vilest acts of sins and open scandal, that could be thought of; and felt so much necessitated to praise God, that this was ready for a little while to swallow up my shame and pressure of spirit on account of my sins.”
* The late learned and very excellent Mr. Jonathan Dickinson, pastor of a church in Elizabethtown, president of the college of New-Jersey, and one of the correspondents of the honourable society in Scotland for propagating christian knowledge. He had a great esteem for BRAINERD ; kindly entertained him in his house during his sickness the winter past; and after a short illness, died the ensuing October, two days before BRAINERD.
t A worthy pious young gentleman; who lived in the ministry but a very short time: he died at Stratfield, in Connecticut, the December following his ordination, a little while after Brainerd's death at Northampton. He was taken ill on a journey, returning from a visit to his friends at Milton in Massachusetts, which, as I take it, was his native place, and Harvard College the place of his education.
# This brother of his had been sent for by the correspondents, to take care of, and instruct Brainerd’s congregation of Indians; he being obliged by his illness to be absent from them. He continued to take care of them till Brainerd’s death: and since his death, has been ordained his successor in his mission, and to the charge of his congregation ; which continues much to flourish under his pastoral care.
After this, his dejection and pressure of spirit returned ; and he remained under it the two next days.
April 20. “Was in a very disordered state, and kept my bed most of the day, I enjoyed a little more comfort, than in several of the preceding days. This day I arrived at the age of twenty-nine years. .*
April 21. “I set out on my journey for New England, in order, (if it might be the will of God,) to recover my health by riding; travelled to New York, and there lodged.”
This proved his final departure from New-Jersey.—He travelled slowly, and arrived among his friends at East-Haddam, about the beginning of May. There is very little account in his diary of the time that passed from his setting out on his journey to May 10. He speaks of his sometimes finding his heart rejoicing in the glorious perfections of God, and longing to live to him; but complains of the unfixedness of his thoughts, and their being easily diverted from divine subjects, and cries out of his leanness, as testifying against him, in the loudest manner. Concerning those diversions which he was obliged to use for his health, he says, that he sometimes found he could use diversions with “ singleness of heart,” aiming at the glory of God; but that he also found there was a necessity of great care and watchfulness, lest he should lose that spiritual temper of mind in his diversions, and lest they should degenerate into what was merely selfish, without any supreme aim at the glory of God in them.
Lord's day, May 10. “ (At Had-Lime.*) I could not but feel some measure of gratitude to God at this time, wherein I was much exercised, that he had always disposed me, in my ministry, to insist on the greatest doctrines of regeneration, the new creature, faith in Christ, progressive sanctification, supreme love to God, living entirely to the glory of God, being not our own, and the like. God thus helped me to see, in the surest manner, from time to time, that these, and the like doctrines necessarily connected with them, are the only foundation of safety and salvation for perishing sinners; and that those divine dispositions, which are consonant hereto, are that holiness, ‘without which no man shall see the Lord.” The exercise of these godlike tempers—wherein the soul acts in a kind of concert with God, and would be and do every thing that is pleasing to him—I saw, would stand by the soul in a dying hour; for God must, I think, deny himself, if he cast away his own image, even the soul that is one in desires with himself.
Lord's day, May 17. “ (At Millington.f) Spent the forenoon at home, being unable to attend public worship. At this time, God gave me such an affecting sense of my own vileness, and the exceeding sinfulness of my heart, that there seemed to be nothing but sin and corruption within me. “Innumerable evils compassed me about;’ my want of spirituality and hol living, my neglect of God, and living to myself—All the abominations of my heart and life seemed to be open to my view ; and I had nothing to say, but, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”—Towards noon, I saw, that the grace of God in Christ, is infinitely free towards sinners, and such sinners as I was. I also saw, that God is the supreme good, that in his presence is life; and I began to long to die, that I might be with him, in a state of freedom from all sin. O how a small glimpse of his excellency refreshed my soul! Oh how worthy is the blessed God to be loved, adored, and delighted in, for himself, for his own divine excellencies
“Though I felt much dulness, and want of a spirit of prayer, this week, yet I had some glimpses of the excellency of di
* A parish of Haddam, in Connecticut. t A parish of East-Haddam, in Connecticut.
vine things; and especially one morning, in secret meditation and prayer, the excellency and beauty of holiness, as a likeness to the glorious God, was so discovered to me, that I began to long earnestly to be in that world where holiness dwells in perfection. I seemed to long for this perfect holiness, not so much for the sake of my own happiness, although I saw clearly that this was the greatest, yea, the only happiness of the soul, as that I might please God, live entirely to him, and glorify him to the utmost stretch of my rational powers and capacities.
Lord's day, May 24, “ (At Long-Meadow.") Could not but think, as I have often remarked to others, that much more of true religion consists in deep humility, brokenness of heart, and an abasing sense of barrenness and want of grace and holiness, than most who are called Christians, imagine; especially those who have been esteemed the converts of the late day. Many seem to know of no other religion but elevated joys and affections, arising only from some flights of imagination, or some suggestion made to their mind, of Christ being theirs, God loving them, and the like.”
Oh Thursday, May 28, he came from Long-Meadow to Northampton ; appearing vastly better than, by his account, he had been in the winter; indeed, so well that he was able to ride twenty-five miles in a day, and to walk half a mile ; and appeared cheerful, and free from melancholy: but yet undoubtedly, at that time, in a confirmed, incurable consumption.
I had much opportunity, before this, of particular information concerning him, from many who were well acquainted with him ; and had myself once an opportunity of considerable conversation and some acquaintance with him, at Hew-Haven, near four years before, at the time of the commencement, when he of: fered that confession to the rector of the college, which has been already mentioned in this history; having been one whom he was pleased then several times to consult on that af. fair; but now I had opportunity for a more full acquaintance with him. . I found him remarkably sociable, pleasant and entertaining in his conversation ; yet solid, savoury, spiritual, and very profitable. He appeared meek, modest, and humble; far from any stiffness, moroseness, superstitious demureness, or af. fected singularity in speech or behaviour, and seeming to dislike all such things. We enjoyed not only the benefit of his conversation, but had the comfort and advantage of hearing him pray in the family, from time to time. His manner of praying was very agreeable; most becoming a worm of the dust, and a disciple of Christ, addressing an infinitely great and holy God, the Father of mercies; not with florid expressions, or a
* In Massachusetts.