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practice of it. Although his convictions and conversion were in all respects exceeding clear and very remarkable; yet how far was he from acting as though he thought he had got through his work, when once he had obtained comfort, and satisfaction of his interest in Christ, and title to heaven! On the contrary, that work on his heart, by which he was brought to this, was with him evidently but the beginning of his work, his first entering on the great business of religion and the service of God, his first setting out in his race. His work was not finished, nor his race ended, until life was ended ; agreeable to frequent Scripture representations of the Christian life. He continued pressing forward in a constant manner, forgetting the things that were behind, and reaching forth towards the things that were before. His pains and earnestness in the business of religion were rather increased than diminished, after he had received comfort and satisfaction concerning the safety of his state. Those divine principles, which after this he was actuated by, of love to God, and longings and thirstings after holiness, seemed to be more effectual to engage him to pains and activity in religion, than fear of hell had been before.
And as his conversion was not the end of his work, or of the course of his diligence and strivings in religion ; so neither was it the end of the work of the Spirit of God on his heart: but on the contrary, the beginning of that work; the beginning of his spiritual discoveries, and holy views; the first dawning of the light, which thenceforward increased more and more; the beginning of his holy affections, his sorrow for sin, his love to God, his rejoicing in Christ Jesus, his longings after holiness. And the powerful operations of the Spirit of God in these things, were carried on, from the day of his conversion, in a continued course, to his dying day. His religious experiences, his admiration, his joy and praise, and flowing affections, did not only hold up to a considerable height for a few days, weeks or months, at first, while hope and comfort were new things with him; and then gradually dwindle and die away, until they came to almost nothing, and so leave him without any sensible or remarkable experience of spiritual discoveries, or holy and divine affections, for months together; as it is with many, who, after the newness of things is over, soon come to that pass, that it is again with them very much as it used to be before their supposed conversion, with respect to any present views of God's glory, of Christ's excellency, or of the beauty of divine things; and with respect to any present thirstings for God, or ardent outgoings of their souls after divine objects: but only now and then, they have a comfortable reflection on things they have met with in times past, and are something affected with them ; and so rest easy, thinking all things are well; they have had a good clear work, and their state is safe, and they doubt not but they shall go to heaven when they die. How far otherwise was it with Mr. Brainerd, than it is with such persons ! His experiences, instead of dying away, were evidently of an increasing nature. His first love and other holy affections, even at the beginning, were very great; but after months and years, became much greater and more remarkable; and the spiritual exercises of his mind continued exceeding great, though not equally so at all times, yet usually so, without indulged remissness, and without habitual dwindling and dying away, eren until his decease. They began in a time of general deadness all over the land, and were greatly increased in a time of general reviving of religion. And when religion decayed again, and a general deadness returned, his experiences were stil kept up in their height, and his holy exercises maintained in their life and vigor; and so continued to be in a general course, wherever he was, and whatever his circumstances were, among English and Indians, in company and alone, in towns and cities, and in the howling wilderness in VOL. I
sickness and in health, living and dying. This is agreeable to Scripture des. criptions of true and right religion, and of the Christian life. The change that was wrought in him at his conversion, was agreeable to Scripture representations of that change which is wrought in true conversion ; a great change, and an abiding change, rendering him a new man, a new creature: not only a change as to hope and comfort, and an apprehension of his own good estate; and a transient change, consisting in high flights of passing affections; but a change of nature, a change of the abiding habit and temper of his mind. Nor a partial change, merely in point of opinion, or outward reformation ; much less a change from one error to another, or from one sin to another; but a universal change, both internal and external; as from corrupt and dangerous principles in religion, unto the belief of the truth, so from both the habits and ways of sin, unto universal holiness of heart and practice; from the power and service of Satan, unto God.
2. His religion did apparently and greatly differ from that of many high pretenders to religion, who are frequently actuated by vehement emotions of mind, and are carried on in a course of sudden and strong impressions, and supposed high illuminations and immediate discoveries, and at the same time are persons of a virulent zeal, not according to knouledge.
His convictions, preceding his conversion, did not arise from any frightful impressions on his imagination, or any external images and ideas of fire and brimstone, a sword of vengeance drawn, a dark pit open, devils in terrible shapes, &c., strongly fixed in his mind. His sight of his own sinfulness did not consist in any imagination of a heap of loathsome material filthiness within him ; nor did his sense of the hardness of his heart consist in any bodily feeling in his breast, something hard and heavy like a stone, nor in any imaginations whatever of such a nature.
His first discovery of God or Christ, at his conversion, was not any strong idea of any external glory or brightness, or majesty and beauty of countenance, or pleasant voice; nor was it any supposed, immediate manifestation of God's love to him in particular; nor any imagination of Christ's smiling face, arms open, or words immediately spoken to him, as by name, revealing Christ's love to him ; either words of Scripture, or any other ; but a manifestation of God's glory, and the beauty of his nature, as supremely excellent in itself; powerfully drawing, and sweetly captivating his heart; bringing him to a hearty desire to exalt God, set him on the throne, and give him supreme honor and glory, as the king and sovereign of the universe; and also a new sense of the infinite wisdom, suitableness and excellency of the way of salvation by Christ; powerfully engaging his whole soul to embrace this way of salvation, and to delight in it. His first faith did not consist in believing that Christ loved him, and died for him, in particular. His first comfort was not from any secret suggestion of God's eternal love to him, or that God was reconciled to him, or intended great mercy for him, by any such texts as these: Son, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee; Fear not, I am thy God, &c., or in any such way. On the contrary, when God's glory was first discovered to him, it was without any thought of salvation as his own. His first experience of the sanctifying and comforting power of God's Spirit did not begin in some bodily sensation, any pleasant warm feeling in his breast, that he, as some others, called the feeling of the love of Christ in him, and being full of the Spirit. How exceeding far were his experiences, at his first conversion, from things of such a nature!
And if we look through the whole series of his experiences, from his conversion to his death, we shall find none of this kind.
Mr. Brainerd's religion was not selfish and mercenary : his love to God was primarily and principally for the supreme excellency of his own nature, and not built on a preconceived notion that God loved him, had received him into favor, and had done great things for him, or promised great things to him: so his joy was joy in God, and not in himself. We see by his Diary how, from time to time, through the course of his life, his soul was filled with ineffable sweetness and comfort. But what was the spring of this strong and abiding consolation ? Not so much the consideration of the sure grounds he had to think that his state was good, that God had delivered him from hell, and that heaven was his; or any thoughts concerning his own distinguished happy and exalted circumstances, as a high favorite of heaven: but the sweet meditations and entertaining views he had of divine things without himself; the affecting considerations and lively ideas of God's infinite glory, his unchangeable blessedness, his sovereignty and universal dominion ; together with the sweet exercises of love to God, giving himself up to him, abasing himself before him, denying himself for him, depending upon him, acting for his glory, diligently serving him; and the pleasing prospects or hopes he had of a future advancement of the kingdom of Christ, &c.
It appears plainly and abundantly all along, from his conversion to his death, that that beauty, that sort of good, which was the great object of the new sense of his mind, the new relish and appetite given him in conversion, and thenceforward maintained and increased in his heart, was holiness, conformity to God, living to God, and glorifying him. This was what drew his heart; this was the centre of his soul ; this was the occean to which all the streams of his religious affections tended; this was the object that engaged his eager thirsting desires and earnest pursuits: he knew no true excellency or happiness but this : this was what he longed for most vehemently and constantly on earth; and this was with him the beauty and blessedness of heaven; which made hiin so much and so often to long for that world of glory; it was to be perfectly holy, and perfectly exercised in the holy employments of heaven; thus to glorify God and enjoy him forever. .
His religious illuminations, affections and comfort, seemed to a great degree to be attended with evangelical humiliation; consisting in a sense of his own utter insufficiency, despicableness and odiousness; with an answerable disposition and frame of heart. How deeply affected was he almost continually with his great defects in religion; with his vast distance from that spirituality and holy frame of mind that became him; with his ignorance, pride, deadness, unsteadiness, barrenness! He was not only affected with the remembrance of his former sinfulness, before his conversion, but with the sense of his present vileness and pollution. He was not only disposed to think meanly of himself as before God, and in comparison of him; but amongst men, and as compared with them : he was apt to think other saints better than he; yea, to look on himself as the meanest and least of saints; yea, very often as the vilest and worst of mankind. And notwithstanding his great attainments in spiritual knowledge, yet we find there is scarce any thing that he is more frequently affected and abased with a sense of, than his ignorance.
How eminently did he appear to be a meek and quiet spirit, resembling the lamb-like, dove-like spirit of Jesus Christ! How full of love, meekness, quietness, forgiveness and mercy! His love was not merely a fondness and zeal for a party, hut a universal benevolence; very often exercised in the most sensible and ardent love to his greatest opposers and enemies. His love and meekness were not a mere pretence, an outward profession and show; but they were effectual things, manifested in expensive and painful deeds of love and kindness; and in a meek behavior; readily confessing faults under the greatest trials, and humbling himself even at the feet of those from whom he supposed he had suffered most; and from time to time, very frequently praying for his enemies, abhorring the thoughts of bitterness or resentment towards them. I scarcely know where to look for any parallel instance of self-denial, in these respects, in the present age. He was a person of great zeal; but how did he abhor a bitter zeal, and lament it where he saw it! And though he was once drawn into some degrees of it, by the force of prevailing example, as it were in his childhood; yet how did he go about with his heart bruised and broken in pieces for it all his life after!
Of how soft and tender a spirit was he! How far were his experiences, hopes and joys, from a tendency finally to stupify and harden him, to' lessen convictions and tenderness of conscience, to cause him to be less affected with present and past sins, and less conscientious with respect to future sins, more easy in the neglect of duties that are troublesome and inconvenient, more slow and partial in complying with difficult commands, less apt to be alarıned at the appearance of his own defects and transgressions, more easily induced to a compliance with carnal appetites ! On the contrary, how tender was his conscience! How apt was his heart to smite him! How easily and greatly was he alarmed at the appearance of moral evil! How great and constant was his jealousy over his own heart! How strict his care and watchfulness against sin! How deep and sensible were the wounds that sin made in his conscience! Those evils that are generally accounted small, were almost an insupportable burden to him; such as his inward deficiencies, his having no more love to God, finding within himself any slackness or dulness in religion, any unsteadiness, or wandering frame of mind, &c. How did the consideration of such things as these oppress and abase him, and fill him with inward shame and confusion! His love, and hope, though they were such as cast out a servile fear of hell, yet they were such as were attended with, and abundantly cherished and promoted, a reverential filial fear of God, a dread of sin, and of God's holy displeasure. His joy seemed truly to be a rejoicing with trembling. His assurance and comfort differed greatly from a false enthusiastic confidence and joy, in that it promoted and maintained mourning for sin, Holy mourning, with him, was not only the work of an hour or a day, at his first conversion ; but sorrow for sin was like a wound constantly running : he was a mourner for sin all his days. He did not, after he received comfort and full satisfaction of the forgiveness of all his sins, and the safety of his state, forget his past sins, the sins of his youth, that were committed before his conversion ; but the remembrance of them, from time to time, revived in his heart, with renewed grief.—That in Ezek. xvi. 63, was evidently fulfilled in him, That thou mayest remember, and be con founded, and never open thy mouth any more, because of thy shame ; when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done. And how lastingly did the sins that he committed after his conversion, affect and break his heart! If he did any thing whereby he thought he had in any respect dishonored God, and wounded the interest of religion, he had never done with calling it to mind with sorrow and bitterness: though he was assured that God had forgiven it, yet he never forgave himself: his past sorrows and fears made no satisfaction with him; but still the wound renews and bleeds afresh, again and again. And his present sins, that he daily found in himself, were an occasion of daily, sensible and deep sorrow of heart.
His religious affections and joys were not like those of some, who bare
rapture and mighty emotions from time to time in company; but have very little affection in retirement and secret places. Though he was of a very sociable temper, and loved the company of saints, and delighted very much in religious conversation and in social worship; yet his warmest affections, and their greatest effects on animal nature, and his sweetest joys, were in his closet devotions, and solitary transactions between God and his own soul; as is very observable through his whole course, from his conversion to his death. He delighted greatly in sacred retirements; and loved to get quite away from all the world, to converse with God alone, in secret duties.
Mr. Brainerd's experiences and comforts were very far from being like those of some persons, which are attended with a spiritual satiety, and put an end to religious desires and longings, at least to the edge and ardency of them; resting satisfied in their own attainments and comforts, as having obtained their chief end, which is to extinguish their fears of hell, and give them confidence of the favor of God.—How far were his religious affections, refreshments, and satisfactions, from such an operation and influence as this! On the contrary, how were they always attended with longings and thirstings after greater degrees of conformity to God! And the greater and sweeter his comforts were, the more vehement were his desires after holiness. For it is to be observed, that his longings were not so much after joyful discoveries of God's love, and clear views of his title to future advancement and eternal bonors in heaven; as after more of present holiness, greater spirituality, a heart more engaged for God, to love and exalt and depend on him, an ability better to serve him, to do more for his glory, and to do all that he did with more of a regard to Christ as his righteousness and strength; and after the enlargement and advancement of Christ's kingdom in the earth. And bis desires were not idle wishings and wouldings, but such as were powerful and effectual, to animate him to the earnest, eager pursuit of these things, with utmost diligence, and unfainting labor and self-denial. His comforts never put an end to his seeking after God, and striving to obtain his grace; but on the contrary, greatly engaged and enlarged him therein.
His religion did not consist only in experience, without practice. All his inward illuminations, affections and comforts seemed to have a direct tendency to practice, and to issue in it; and this not merely a practice negatively good, free from gross acts of irreligion and immortality: but a practice positively holy and Christian, in a serious, devout, huinble, meek, merciful, charitable, and beneficent conversation ; making the service of God, and our Lord Jesus Christ, the great business of life, which he was devoted to, and pursued with the greatest earnestness and diligence to the end of his days, through all trials. In him was to be seen the right way of being lively in religion. His liveliness in religion did not consist merely or mainly in his being lively with the tongue, but in deed; not in being forward in profession and outward show, and abundant in declaring his own experiences; but chiefly in being active and abundant in the labors and duties of religion; not slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, and serving his generation according to the will of God.
It cannot be pretended, that the reason why he so much abhorred and condemned the notions and experiences of those whose first faith consists in belier. ing that Christ is theirs, and that Christ died for them; without any previous experience of union of heart to him, for his excellency, as he is in hiinself, and not for his supposed love to them; and who judge of their interest in Christ, their justification, and God's love to them, not by their sanctification and the exercises and fruits of grace, but by a supposed immediate witness of the Spirit