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“Religious conversation seems to be very pleasing and delightful to many, and especially that which relates to the exercises of the heart. And many here do not seem to be real Christians only, but growing Christians also ; as well in doctrinal, as experimental knowledge. Beside my conversation with particular persons, I have had opportunity to attend upon one of Mr. BRAINERD's catechetical lectures ; where I was surprised at their readiness in answering questions to which they had not been used ; although Mr. BRAINERD complained much of their uncommon deficiency. It is surprising to see this people, who not long since were led captive by Satan at his will, and living in the practice of all manner of abominations, without the least sense even of moral honesty, yet now living soberly and regularly, and not seeking every man his own, but every man in some sense, his neighbour's good; and to see those, who, but a little while past, knew nothing of the true God, now worshipping him in a solemn and devout manner; not only in public, but in their families, and in secret; which is manifestly the case, it being a difficult thing to walk out in the woods in the morning, without disturbing persons at their secret devotion. It seems wonderful, that this should be the case, not only with adult persons, but with children also. It is observable here, that many children, (if not the children in general) retire into secret places to pray. And, as far as at present I can judge, this is not the effect of custom and fashion, but of real seriousness and thoughtfulness about their souls.
“I have frequently gone into the school, and have spent considerable time there amongst the children ; and have been surprised to see, not only their diligent attendance upon the business of the school, but also the proficiency they have made in it, in reading and writing, and in their catechisms of divers sorts. It seems to be as pleasing and as natural to these children to have books in their hands, as it does for many others to be at play. ... I have gone into a house where there has been a number of children accidentally gathered together; and observed that every one had his book in his hand, and was o studying it. About thirty of these children, can answer all the questions in the assembly's catechism ; and the greater part of them are able to do it with the proofs, to the fourth commandment. I wish there were many such schools; 1 confess, that I never was acquainted with such an one, in many respects. Oh that what God has done here, may prove to be the beginning of a far more glorious and extensive work of grace among the Heathen!
“I am your obedient and dutiful son,
“ JOB STRONG.
“P. S. Since the date of this, I have had an opportunity to attend upon another of Mr. BRAINERD's catechetical lectures : and truly I was convinced, that Mr. BRAINERD did not complain before of his people's defects in answering to questions proposed, without reason ; for although their answers at that time exceeded my expectations very much : yet their performances at this lecture very much exceeded them.”
Since this, we have had accounts from time to time, and some very late, which show that religion still continues in prosperous and most desirable circumstances among these Indians.
Is there not much in the preceding memoirs of BRAINERD to teach, and excite to duty, us who are called to the work of the ministry and all who are candidates for that great work What a deep sense did he seem to have of the greatness and importance of that work, and with what weight did it lie on his mind How sensible was he of his own insufficiency for this work; and how great was his dependence on God's sufficiency! How solicitous, that he might be fitted for it ! and to this end, how much time did he spend in prayer and fasting, as well as reading and meditation; giving himself to these things How did he dedicate his whole life, all his powers and talents to God ; and forsake and renounce the world, with all its pleasing and ensnaring enjoyments, that he might be wholly at liberty to serve Christ in this work; and to “please him who had chosen him to be a soldier, under the captain of our salvation.” With what solicitude, solemnity, and diligence, did he devote himself to God our Saviour, and seek his presence and blessing in secret, at the time of his ordination / and how did his whole heart appear to be constantly engaged, his whole time employed, and his whole strength spent in the business he then solemnly undertook and to which he was publicly set apart — His history shows us the right way to success in the work of the ministry. He sought it, as a resolute soldier seeks victory, in a siege or battle ; or as a man who runs a race, seeks a great prize... Animated with love to Christ and the souls of men, how did he “labour always fervently,” not only in word and doctrine, in public and private, but in prayers day and night, “wrestling with God” in secret, and “travailing in birth,” with unutterable groans and agonies, “until Christ were formed” in the hearts of the people to whom he was sent! How did he thirst for a blessing on his ministry; “watch for souls, as one that must give account " How did he “go forth in the strength of the Lord God;” seeking and depending on a special influence of the Spirit to assist and succeed him ' What was the happy fruit at last, though after long waiting, and many dark and discouraging appearances ! Like a true son of Jacob, he persevered in wrestling, through all the darkness of the night, until the breaking of the day. His example of labouring, praying, denying himself, and enduring hardness with unfainting resolution and patience, and his faithful, vigilant, and prudent conduct in many other respects [which it would be too long now particularly to recite,) may afford instruction to missionaries in particular.
The foregoing account of BRAINERD's life may afford instruction to Christians in general; as it shows in many respects, the right way of practising religion, in order to obtain the ends, and receive the benefits of it; or how Christians should “run the race set before them,” if they would not “run in vain, or run as uncertainly,” but would honour God in the world; adorn their profession, be serviceable to mankind, have the comforts of religion while they live, be free from disquieting doubts and dark apprehensions about the state of their souls, enjoy peace in the approaches of death, and “finish their course with joy.” In general, he much recommended, for this purpose, the redemption of time, great diligence in the business of the Christian life, watchfulness, &c. and he very remarkably exemplified these things. -- Ficularly, his example and success with regard to one duty in an especial manner, may be of great use to both ministers and private Christians; I mean the duty of secret fasting. The reader has seen, how much BRAINEBD recommends this duty, and how fiequently he exercised himself in it; nor can it well have escaped observation, how much he was owned and blessed in it, and of what great benefit it evidently was to his soul. Among all the many days he spent in secret fasting and prayer, of which he gives an account in his diary, there is scarcely an instance of one which was not either attended or soon followed with apparent success, and a remarkable blessing, in special influences and consolations of God's Spirit; and very often, before the day was ended. But it must be observed, that when he set about this duty, he did it in good earnest; “stirring up himself to take hold of God,” and “continuing instant in prayer,” with much of the spirit of Jacob, who said to the angel, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.”
There is much in the preceding account to excite and encourage God's people to earnest prayer and endeavours for the advancement and enlargement of the kingdom of Christ in the rorld. Br AIXERD set us an excellent example in this respect. He sought the prosperity of Zion with all his might; and preferred Jerusalem above his chief joy. How did his soul long for it, and pant after it ! how earnestly and often did he wrestle with God for it ! and how far did he, in these desires and prayers, seem to be carried beyond all private and selfish views ' being animated by a pure love to Christ, an earnest desire of his glory, and a disinterested affection to the souls of mankind. The consideration of this, not only ought to be an incitement to the people of God, but may also be a just encouragement to them, to be much in seeking and praying for a general outpouring of the Spirit of God, and an extensive revival of religion. I confess, that God's giving so much of a spirit of prayer for this mercy to so eminent a servant of his, and exciting him, in so extraordinary a manner, and with such vehement thirstings of soul, to agonize in prayer for it, from time to time, through the course of his life, is one thing among others, which gives me great hope that God has a design of accomplishing something very glorious for the interest of his church before long. One —such instance as this, I conceive, gives more encouragement, than the common, cold, formal prayers of thousands. As BRAINERD's desires and prayers for the coming of Christ's kingdom, were special and extraordinary; so, I think we may reasonably hope, that the God who excited those desires and prayers, will answer them with something special and eartraordinary. And in a particular manner do I think it worthy of notice for our encouragement, that he had his heart, [as he declared, unusually drawn out in longings and prayers for the flourishing of Christ's kingdom on earth, when he was in the approaches of death; and that with his dying breath, he breathed out his departing soul into the bosom of his Redeemer, in prayers and pantings after the glorious event ; expiring in very great hope, that it would soon begin to be fulfilled. I wish that the thoughts which he in his dying state expressed of that explicit agreement, and visible union of God's people, in extraordinary prayer for a general revival of religion, lately proposed in a MEMORIAL to Scotland, which has been dispersed among us, may be well considered by those who hitherto have not seen fit to fall in with that proposal.-But I forbear to say any more on this head, having already published my thoughts upon it, in a discourse written on purpose to promote that affair; with which, I confess, I wish that every one of my readers might be supplied; not that my honour, but that this excellent design might be promoted. As there is much in BRAINERD's life to encourage Christians to seek the advancement of Christ's kingdom, in general: so there is in particular, to pray for the conversion of the Indians on this continent, and to exert themselves in the use of proper means for its accomplishment. It appears, that he, in his unutterable longings and wrestlings of soul for the flourishing of Wol. X. ;
religion, had his mind peculiarly intent on the conversion and salvation of these people, and his heart more especially engaged in prayer for them. If we consider the degree and manner in which he from time to time, sought and hoped for an extensive work of grace among them, I think, we have reason to hope, that the wonderful things, which God wrought among them by him, are but a forerunner of something yet much more glorious and extensive of that kind. This may justly be an encouragement, to well disposed charitable persons, to “honour the Lord with their substance,” by contributing, as they are able, to promote the spreading of the gospel among them. This also may incite and encourage gentlemen, who are incorporated and intrusted with the care and disposal of those liberal benefactions, which have already been made by pious persons to that end; and likewise the missionaries themselves, that are or may be employed; and it may be of direction unto both, as to the prop. qualifications of missionaries, and the proper measures to e taken in order to their success. One thing I would particularly propose to the consideration of such as have the care of providing and sending missionaries among savages; viz. Whether it would not ordinarily be best to send two together ? It is pretty manifest, that BRAINERD's going, as he did, alone into the howling wilderness, was one great occasion of a prevailing melancholy on his mind; which was his greatest disadvantage. He spoke much of it himself, when he was here in his dying state; and expressed himself, to this purpose, that none could conceive of the disadvantage a missionary in such circumstances was under, by being alone ; especially as it exposed him to discouragement and melancholy. He spoke of the wisdom of Christ in sending forth his disciples by two and two; and left it as his dying advice to his brother, never to go to Susquehannah, to travel about in that remote wilderness, to preach to the Indians there, as he had often done, without the company of a fellow missionary.
One thing more may not be unprofitably observed in the preceding account of BRAINERD ; and that is the special and remarkable disposal of divine providence, with regard to the circumstances of his last sickness and death.
Though he had been long infirm, his constitution being much broken by his fatigues and hardships; and though he was often brought very low by illness before he left Kaunaumeek, and also while he lived at the Forks of Delaware; yet his life was preserved, till he had seen that which he had so long and greatly desired and sought, a glorious work of grace among the Indians.