|« Prev||PART VIII. From his return to Susquehannah, till…||Next »|
AFTER HIS RETURN FROM HIS LAST JOURNEY TO SUSQUEHANNAH, UNTIL HIS DEATH.
HITHERTO Mr. Brainerd had kept a constant diary, giving an account of what passed from day to day, with very little interruption: but henceforward his diary is very much interrupted by his illness; under which he was often brought so low, as either not to be capable of writing, or not well able to bear the burden of a care so constant, as was requisite, to recollect every evening what had passed in the day, and digest it, and set down an orderly account of it in writing. However, his diary was not wholly neglected; but he took care, from time to time, to take some notice in it of the most material things concerning himself and the state of his mind, even till within a few days of his death; as the reader will see afterwards. 401401 Mr. Shepard, in his Select Cases Resolved, under the first case says as follows. “I have lately known one very able, wise, and godly, put upon the rack, by him that, envying God’s people’s peace, knows how to change himself into an angel of light; for it being his usual course, in the time of his health, to make a diary of his hourly life, and finding much benefit by it, he was in conscience pressed, by the power and delusion of Satan, to make and take the same daily survey of his life in the time of his sickness; by means of which he spent his enfeebled spirits, cast on fuel to fire his sickness. Had not a friend of his convinced him of his erroneous conscience misleading him at that time, he had murdered his body, out of conscience to save his soul, and to preserve his grace. And do you think these were the motions of God’s Spirit, which like those locusts, Rev. ix. 9, 10, had faces like men, but had tails like scorpions, and stings in their tails?
“Lord’s day, Sept. 21, 1746. I was so weak I could not preach, nor pretend to ride over to my people in the forenoon. In the afternoon rode out; sat in my chair, and discoursed to my people from Rom. xiv. 7, 8. ‘For none of us liyeth to himself,’ &c. I was strengthened and helped in my discourse; and there appeared something agreeable in the assembly. I returned to my lodgings extremely tired; but thankful that I had been enabled to speak a word to my poor people I had been so long absent from. Was able to sleep very little this night, through weariness and pain. Oh, how blessed should I be, if the little I do were all done with right views! Oh that, ‘whether I live, I might live to the Lord,’ &c.
“Saturday, Sept. 27. Spent this day, as well as the whole week past, under a great degree of bodily weakness, exercised with a violent cough, and a considerable fever. I had no appetite to any kind of food; and frequently brought up what I ate, as soon as it was down; and oftentimes had little rest in my bed by reason of pains in my breast and back. I was able, however, to ride over to my people about two miles every day, and take some care of those who were then at work upon a small house for me to reside in amongst the Indians. 402402 This was the fourth house he built for his residence among the Indians. Besides that at Kaunaumeek, and that at the Forks of Delaware, and another at Crossweeksung, he built one now at Cranbury. I was sometimes scarce able to walk, and never able to sit up the whole day, through the week. Was calm and composed, and but little exercised with melancholy damps, as in former seasons of weakness. Whether I should ever recover or no, seemed very doubtful; but this was many times a comfort to me, that life and death did not depend upon my choice. I was pleased to think, that he who is infinitely wise, had the determination of this matter; and that I had no trouble to consider and weigh things upon all sides, in order to make the choice, whether I should live or die. Thus my time was consumed; I had little strength to pray, none to write or read, and scarce any to meditate: but through divine goodness, I could with great composure look death in the face, and frequently with sensible joy. Oh how blessed it is, to be habitually prepared for death! The Lord grant that I may be actually ready also!
“Lord’s day, Sept. 28. Rode to my people; and, though under much weakness, attempted to preach from 2 Cor. xiii. 5. ‘Examine yourselves,’ &c. Discoursed about half an hour; at which season divine power seemed to attend the word: but being extremely weak, I was obliged to desist: and after a turn of faintness, with much difficulty rode to my lodgings; where betaking myself to my bed, I lay in a burning fever, and almost delirious, for several hours; till towards morning my fever went off with a violent sweat. I have often been feverish, and unable to rest quietly after preaching; but this was the most severe, distressing turn that ever preaching brought upon me. Yet I felt perfectly at rest in my own mind, because I had made my utmost attempts to speak for God, and knew I could do no more.
“Tuesday, Sept. 30. Yesterday, and to-day, was in the same weak state, or rather weaker than in days past; was scarce able to sit up half the day. Was in a composed frame of mind, remarkably free from dejection and melancholy damps; as God has been pleased, in a great measure, to deliver me from these unhappy glooms, in the general course of my present weakness hitherto, and also from a peevish, froward spirit. And oh how great a mercy is this! Oh that I might always be perfectly quiet in seasons of greatest weakness, although nature should sink and fail!
Oh that I may always be able with utmost sincerity to say, ‘Lord, not my will, but thine be done!’ This, through grace, I can say at present, with regard to life or death, ‘The Lord do with me as seems good in his sight;’ that whether I live or die, I may glorify him, who is ‘worthy to receive blessing, and honour, and dominion for ever. Amen.’
“Saturday, Oct. 4. Spent the former part of this week under a great degree of infirmity and disorder, as I had done several weeks before: was able, however, to ride a little every day, although unable to sit up half the day, till Thursday. Took some care daily of some persons at work upon my house. On Friday afternoon found myself wonderfully revived and strengthened; and having some time before given notice to my people, and those of them at the Forks of Delaware in particular, that I designed, with leave of Providence, to administer the sacrament of the Lord’s supper upon the first sabbath in October, the sabbath now approaching, on Friday afternoon I preached, preparatory to the sacrament, from 2 Cor. xiii. 5. finishing what I had proposed to offer upon the subject the sabbath before. The sermon was blessed of God to the stirring up religious affection, and a spirit of devotion, in the people of God; and to the greatly affecting one who had backslidden from God, which caused him to judge and condemn himself. I was surprisingly strengthened in my work while I was speaking: but was obliged immediately after to repair to bed, being now removed into my own house among the Indians; which gave me such speedy relief and refreshment, as I could not well have lived without. Spent some time on Friday night in conversing with my people about divine things, as I lay upon my bed; and found my soul refreshed, though my body was weak. This being Saturday, I discoursed particularly with divers of the communicants; and this afternoon preached from Zech. xii. 10. ‘And I will pour on the house of David,’ &c. There seemed to be a tender melting, and hearty mourning for sin, in numbers in the congregation. My soul was in a comfortable frame, and I enjoyed freedom and assistance in public service; was myself, as well as most of the congregation, much affected with the humble confession and apparent broken-heartedness of the forementioned backslider; and could not but rejoice, that God had given him such a sense of his sin and unworthiness. Was extremely tired in the evening; but lay on my bed, and discoursed to my people.
“Lord’s day, Oct. 5. Was still very weak; and in the morning considerably afraid I should not be able to go through the work of the day; having much to do, both in private and public. Discoursed before the administration of the sacrament, from John i. 29.’Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.’ Where I considered, I. In what respects Christ is called the Lamb of God: and observed that he is so called, (1.) From the purity and innocence of his nature. (2.) From his meekness and patience under sufferings. (3.) From his being that atonement, which was pointed out in the sacrifice of lambs, and in particular by the paschal lamb. II. Considered how and in what sense he ‘takes away the sin of the world:’ and observed, that the means and manner, in and by which he takes away the sins of men, was his ‘giving himself for them,’ doing and suffering in their room and stead, &c. And he is said to take away the sin of the world, not because all the world shall actually be redeemed from sin by him; but because, (1.) He has done and suffered sufficient to answer for the sins of the world, and so to redeem all mankind. (2.) He actually does take away the sins of the elect world. And, III. Considered how we are to behold him, in order to have our sins taken away. (1.) Not with our bodily eyes. Nor, (2.) By imagining him on the cross, &c. But by a spiritual view of his glory and goodness, engaging the soul to rely on him, &c. The divine presence attended this discourse; and the assembly was considerably melted with divine truths. After sermon baptized two persons. Then administered the Lord’s supper to near forty communicants of the Indians, besides divers dear Christians of the white people. It seemed to be a season of divine power and grace; and numbers seemed to rejoice in God. Oh, the sweet union and harmony then appearing among the religious people! My soul was refreshed, and my religious friends, of the white people, with me. After the sacrament, could scarcely get home, though it was not more than twenty roods; but was supported and led by my friends, and laid on my bed; where I lay in pain till some time in the evening; and then was able to sit up and discourse with friends. Oh, how was this day spent in prayers and praises among my dear people! One might hear them, all the morning, before public worship, and in the evening, till near midnight, praying and singing praises to God, in one or other of their houses. My soul was refreshed, though my body was weak.”
This week, in two days, though in a very low state, he went to Elizabeth-town, to attend the meeting of the Synod there: but was disappointed by its removal to New York. He continued in a very composed, comfortable frame of mind.
“Saturday, Oct. 11 Towards night was seized with an ague, which was followed with a hard fever, and considerable pain: was treated with great kindness, and was ashamed to see so much concern about so unworthy a creature, as I knew myself to be. Was in a comfortable frame of mind, wholly submissive, with regard to life or death. It was indeed a peculiar satisfaction to me, to think, that it was not my concern or business to determine whether I should live or die. I likewise felt peculiarly satisfied, while under this uncommon degree of disorder; being now fully convinced of my being really weak, and unable to perform my work. Whereas at other times my mind was perplexed with fears, that I was a misimprover of time, by conceiting I was sick, when I was not in reality so. Oh, how precious is time! And how guilty it makes me feel, when I think I have trifled away and misimproved it, or neglected to fill up each part of it with duty, to the utmost of my ability and capacity!
“Lord’s day, Oct. 12. Was scarce able to sit up in the forenoon: in the afternoon attended public worship, and was in a composed, comfortable frame.
“Lord’s day, Oct. 19. Was scarcely able to do any thing at all in the week past, except that on Thursday I rode out about four miles; at which time I took cold. As I was able to do little or nothing, so I enjoyed not much spirituality, or lively religious affection; though at some times I longed much to be more fruitful and full of heavenly affection; and was grieved to see the hours slide away, while I could do nothing for God. Was able this week to attend public worship. Was composed and comfortable, willing either to die or live; but found it hard to be reconciled to the thoughts of living useless. Oh that I might never live to be a burden to God’s creation; but that I might be allowed to repair home, when my sojourning work is done!”
This week he went back to his Indians at Cranberry, to take some care of their spiritual and temporal concerns; and was much spent with riding; though he rode but a little way in a day.
“Thursday, Oct. 23. Went to my own house, and set things in order. Was very weak, and somewhat melancholy: laboured to do something, but had no strength; and was forced to lie down on my bed, very solitary.
“Friday, Oct. 24. Spent the day in overseeing and directing my people about mending their fence, and securing their wheat. Found that all their concerns of a secular nature depended upon me. Was somewhat refreshed in the evening, having been able to do something valuable in the day-time. Oh, how it pains me to see time pass away, when I can do nothing to any purpose!
“Saturday, Oct. 25. Visited some of my people; spent some time in writing, and felt much better in body than usual. When it was near night, I felt so well, that I had thoughts of expounding: but in the evening was much disordered again, and spent the night in coughing, and spitting blood.
“Lord’s day, Oct. 26. In the morning was exceeding weak: spent the day, till near night, in pain to see my poor people wandering as sheep not having a shepherd, waiting and hoping to see me able to preach to them before night. It could not but distress me to see them in this case, and to find myself unable to attempt any thing for their spiritual benefit. But towards night, finding myself a little better, I called them together to my house, and sat down, and read and expounded Matt. v. 1-16. This discourse, though delivered in much weakness, was attended with power to many of the hearers; especially what was spoken upon the last of these verses; where I insisted on the infinite wrong done to religion, by having our light become darkness, instead of shining before men. Many in the congregation were now deeply affected with a sense of their deficiency, in regard of a spiritual conversation, that might recommend religion to others, and a spirit of concern and watchfulness seemed to be excited in them. There was one, in particular, who had fallen into the sin of drunkenness some time before, now deeply convinced of his sin, and the great dishonour done to religion by his misconduct, and he discovered a great degree of grief and concern on that account. My soul was refreshed to see this. And though I had no strength to speak so much as I would have done, but was obliged to lie down on the bed; yet I rejoiced to see such an humble melting in the congregation; and that divine truths, though faintly delivered, were attended with so much efficacy upon the auditory.
“Monday, Oct. 27. Spent the day in overseeing and directing the Indians about mending the fence round their wheat: was able to walk with them, and contrive their business, all the forenoon. In the afternoon was visited by two dear friends, and spent some time in conversation with them. Towards night I was able to walk out, and take care of the Indians again. In the evening enjoyed a very peaceful frame.
“Tuesday, Oct. 28. Rode to Prince-town, in a very weak state: had such a violent fever, by the way, that I was forced to alight at a friend’s house, and lie down for some time. Near night was visited by Mr. Treat, Mr. Beaty and his wife, and another friend: my spirits were refreshed to see them; but I was surprised, and even ashamed, that they had taken so much pains as to ride thirty or forty miles to see me. Was able to sit up most of the evening; and spent the time in a very comfortable manner with my friends.
“Wednesday, Oct. 29. Rode about ten miles with my friends that came yesterday to see me; and then parted with them all but one, who stayed on purpose to keep me company, and cheer my spirits. Was extremely weak, and very feverish, especially towards night; but enjoyed comfort and satisfaction.
“Thursday, Oct. 30. Rode three or four miles, to visit Mr. Wales: spent some time, in an agreeable manner, in conversation; and though extremely weak, enjoyed a comfortable, composed frame of mind.
Friday, Oct. 31. Spent the day among friends, in a comfortable frame of mind, though exceeding weak, and under a considerable fever.
“Saturday, Nov. 1 Took leave of friends after having spent the forenoon with them, and returned home to my own house. Was much disordered in the evening, and oppressed with my cough; which has now been constant for a long time, with a hard pain in my breast, and fever.
“Lord’s day, Nov. 2. Was unable to preach, and scarcely able to sit up, the whole day. Was grieved, and almost sunk, to see my poor people destitute of the means of grace; especially considering they could not read, and so were under great disadvantages for spending the sabbath comfortably. Oh, me thought, I could be contented to be sick, if my poor flock had a faithful pastor to feed them with spiritual knowledge! A view of their want of this was more afflictive to me than all my bodily illness.
“Monday, Nov. 3. Being now in so weak and low a state, that I was utterly incapable of performing my work, and having little hope of recovery, unless by much riding, I thought it my duty to take a long journey into New England, and to divert myself among my friends, whom I had not now seen for a long time. And accordingly took leave of my congregation this day. Before I left my people, I visited them all in their respective houses, and discoursed to each one, as I thought most proper and suitable for their circumstances, and found great freedom and assistance in so doing. I scarcely left one house but some were in tears; and many were not only affected with my being about to leave them, but with the solemn addresses I made them upon divine things; for I was helped to be fervent in spirit while I discoursed to them. When I had thus gone through my congregation, (which took me most of the day,) and had taken leave of them, and of the school, I left home, and rode about two miles, to the house where I lived in the summer past, and there lodged. Was refreshed, this evening, in that I had left my congregation so well-disposed and affected, and that I had been so much assisted in making my farewell-addresses to them.
“Tuesday, Nov. 4. Rode to Woodbridge, and lodged with Mr. Pierson; continuing in a weak state.
“ Wednesday, Nov. 5. Rode to Elizabeth-town; intending as soon as possible to prosecute my journey into New England. But was, in an hour or two after my arrival, taken much worse.
“ After this, for near a week, I was confined to my chamber, and most of the time to my bed: and then so far revived as to be able to walk about the house; but was still confined within doors.
“In the beginning of this extraordinary turn of disorder, after my coming to Elizabeth-town, I was enabled through mercy to maintain a calm, composed, and patient spirit, as I had been before from the beginning of my weakness. After I had been in Elizabeth-town about a fortnight, and had so far recovered that I was able to walk about the house, upon a day of thanksgiving kept in this place, I was enabled to recall and recount over the mercies of God, in such a manner as greatly affected me, and filled me with thankfulness and praise. Especially my soul praised God for his work of grace among the Indians, and the enlargement of his dear kingdom. My soul blessed God for what he is in himself, and adored him, that he ever would display himself to creatures. I rejoiced that he was God, and longed that all should know it, and feel it, and rejoice in it. ‘Lord, glorify thyself,’ was the desire and cry of my soul. Oh that all people might love and praise the blessed God; that he might have all possible honour and glory from the intelligent world! 403403 About this time he wrote the seventh letter among his Remains.
“ After this comfortable thanksgiving-season, I frequently enjoyed freedom, enlargement, and engagedness of soul in prayer, and was enabled to intercede with God for my dear congregation, very often for every family, and every person, in particular. It was often a great comfort to me, that I could pray heartily to God for those, to whom I could not speak, and whom I was not allowed to see. But at other times, my spirits were so flat and low, and my bodily vigour so much wasted, that I had scarce any affections at all.
“ In December I had revived so far as to be able to walk abroad, and visit friends, and seemed to be on the gaining hand with regard to my health, in the main, until Lord’s day, December 21. At which time I went to the public worship; and it being sacrament day, I laboured much at the Lord’s table, to bring forth a certain corruption, and have it slain, as being an enemy to God and my own soul; and could not but hope, that I had gained some strength against this, as well as other corruptions; and felt some brokenness of heart for my sin.
“After this, having perhaps taken some cold, I began to decline as to bodily health; and continued to do so, till the latter end of January, 1747. Having a violent cough, a considerable fever, an asthmatic disorder, and no appetite for any manner of food, nor any power of digestion, I was reduced to so low a state, that my friends, I believe, generally despaired of my life; and some of them, for some time together, thought I could scarce live a day. At this time, I could think of nothing, with any application of mind, and seemed to be in a great measure void of all affection, and was exercised with great temptations; but yet was not ordinarily afraid of death.
“On Lord’s day, Feb. 1. Though in a very weak and low state, I enjoyed a considerable deal of comfort and sweetness in divine things; and was enabled to plead and use arguments with God in prayer, I think, with a childlike spirit. That passage of Scripture occurred to my mind, and gave me great assistance, ‘If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?’ This text I was helped to plead and insist upon; and saw the divine faithfulness engaged for dealing with me better than any earthly parent can do with his child. This season so refreshed my soul, that my body seemed also to be a gainer by it. And from this time I began gradually to amend. And as I recovered some strength, vigour, and spirit, I found at times some freedom and life in the exercises of devotion, and some longings after spirituality and a life of usefulness to the interests of the great Redeemer. At other times I was awfully barren and lifeless, and out of frame for the things of God; so that I was ready often to cry out, ‘Oh that it were with me as in months past!’ Oh that God had taken me away in the midst of my usefulness, with a sudden stroke, that I might not have been under a necessity of trifling away time in diversions! Oh that I had never lived to spend so much precious time, in so poor a manner, and to so little purpose! Thus I often reflected, was grieved, ashamed, and even confounded, sunk and discouraged.
“On Tuesday, Feb. 24. I was able to ride as far as Newark, (having been confined within Elizabeth-town almost four months,) and the next day returned to Elizabeth-town. My spirits were somewhat refreshed with the ride, though my body was weary.
“On Saturday, Feb. 28. Was visited by an Indian of my own congregation; who brought me letters, and good news of the sober and good behaviour of my people in general. This refreshed my soul; I could not but soon retire, and bless God for his goodness; and found, I trust, a truly thankful frame of spirit, that God seemed to be building up that congregation for himself.
“On Wednesday, March 4. I met with a reproof from a friend, which, although I thought I did not deserve it from him, yet was, I trust, blessed of God to make me more tenderly afraid of sin, more jealous over myself, and more concerned to keep both heart and life pure and unblamable. It likewise caused me to reflect on my past deadness, and want of spirituality, and to abhor myself, and look on myself as most unworthy. This frame of mind continued the next day; and for several days after, I grieved to think, that in my necessary diversions I had not maintained more seriousness, solemnity, heavenly affection and conversation. Thus my spirits were often depressed and sunk; and yet I trust that reproof was made to be beneficial to me.
“Wednesday, March 11, being kept in Elizabeth-town as a day of fasting and prayer, I was able to attend public worship; which was the first time I was able so to do after December 21. Oh, how much weakness and distress did God carry me through in this space of time! But having obtained help from him, I yet live: Oh that I could live more to his glory!
“Lord’s day, March 15. Was able again to attend the public worship, and felt some earnest desires of being restored to the ministerial work: felt, I think, some spirit and life to speak for God.
“Wednesday, March 18. Rode out with a design to visit my people; and the next day arrived among them: but was under great dejection in my journey.
“ On Friday morning I rose early, walked about among my people, and inquired into their state and concerns and found an additional weight and burden on my spirits, upon hearing some things disagreeable. I endeavoured to go to God with my distresses, and made some kind of lamentable complaint; and in a broken manner spread my difficulties before God; but, notwithstanding, my mind continued very gloomy. About ten o’clock I called my people together, and after having explained and sung a psalm, I prayed with them. There was a considerable deal of affection among them; I doubt not, in some instances, that which was more than merely natural.”
This was the last interview that he ever had with his people. About eleven o’clock the same day he left them; and the next day came to Elizabeth-town; his melancholy remaining still: and he continued for a considerable time under a great degree of dejection through vapoury disorders.
“Saturday, March 28. Was taken this morning with violent griping pains. These pains were extreme and constant for several hours; 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 I think I had some relish of the entertainments of the heavenly state; so that by these I was allured and drawn as well as driven by the fatigues of life. Oh, how happy it is, to be drawn by desires of a state of perfect holiness!
“Saturday, 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! Oh, how blessed a thing is it 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 the distribution 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.
“Tuesday, April 7. In the afternoon rode to Newark, in order to marry the Reverend Mr. Dickinson; 404404 The late learned and very excellent Mr. Jonathan Dickinson, pastor of a church in Elizabeth-town, 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 Mr. Brainerd, and kindly entertained him in his house during his sickness in the winter past; and after a short illness, he died in the next ensuing October, two days before Mr. Brainerd. and in the evening performed that work. Afterwards rode home to Elizabeth-town, in a pleasant frame, full of composure and sweetness.
“Thursday, April 9. Attended the ordination of Mr. Tucker, 405405 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, being a little while after Mr. Brainerd’s death at Northampton. He was taken ill on a journey, returning from a visit to his friends at Milton, (in the Massachusettes,) which, as I take it, was his native place, and Harvard college the place of his education. and afterwards 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.
“Friday, April 10. Spent the forenoon in Presbyterial business: in the afternoon, rode to Elizabeth-town; found my brother John there: 406406 This brother of his had been sent for by the Correspondents, to take care of, and instruct Mr. Brainerd’s congregation of Indians; he being obliged by his illness to be absent from them. And he continued to take care of them till Mr. 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. spent some time in conversation with him; but was extremely weak and outdone, my spirits considerably sunk, and my mind dejected.
“Monday, April 13. Assisted in examining my brother. In the evening, was in a solemn devout frame; but was much overdone and oppressed with a violent head-ache.
“Tuesday, 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.
“Wednesday, April 15. Found some freedom at the throne of grace several times this day. In the afternoon was very weak, and spent the time to very little purpose; and 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.
“Thursday, 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, I dared not look any body in the face; and was even grieved that any body should show me any respect, or at least that they should be so deceived as to think I deserved it.
“Friday, 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 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 myself so 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.”
After this, his dejection and pressure of spirit returned; and he remained under it the two next days.
“Monday, 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.
“Tuesday, 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. And concerning those diversions 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 great doctrine 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 doctrine 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 God-like 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] Spent the forenoon at home, being unable to attend the public worship. At this time, God gave me some 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 holy 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. Oh, 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 in prayer this week; yet I had some glimpses of the excellency of divine 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. [Long Meadow in Springfield] 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 living them, and the like.”
On 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 welt, 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 New-Haven, near four years before, at the time of the commencement, when he offered that confession to the rector of the college, which has been already mentioned in this history; I being one he was pleased then several times to consult on that affair: 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 affected 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, and Father of mercies; not with florid expressions, or a studied eloquence; not with any intemperate vehemence, or indecent boldness. It was at the greatest distance from any appearance of ostentation, and from every thing that might look as though he meant to recommend himself to those that were about him, or set himself off to their acceptance. It was free also from vain repetitions, without impertinent excursions, or needless multiplying of words. He expressed himself with the strictest propriety, with weight, and pungency; and yet what his lips uttered seemed to flow from the fulness of his heart, as deeply impressed with a great and solemn sense of our necessities, unworthiness, and dependence, and of God’s infinite greatness, excellency, and sufficiency, rather than merely from a warm and fruitful brain, pouring out good expressions. And I know not that ever I heard him so much as ask a blessing or return thanks at table, but there was something remarkable to be observed both in the matter and manner of the performance. In his prayers, he insisted much on the prosperity of Zion, the advancement of Christ’s kingdom in the world, and the flourishing and propagation of religion among the Indians. And he generally made it one petition in his prayer, “that we might not outlive our usefulness.”
“Lord’s day, May 31. [At Northampton] I had little inward sweetness in religion most of the week past; not realizing and beholding spiritually the glory of God, and the blessed Redeemer; from whence always arise my comforts and joys in religion, if I have any at all: and if I cannot so behold the excellencies and perfections of God, as to cause me to rejoice in him for what he is in himself, I have no solid foundation for joy. To rejoice, only because I apprehend I have an interest in Christ, and shall be finally saved, is a poor mean business indeed.”
This week he consulted Dr. Mather, at my house, concerning his illness, who plainly told him, that there were great evidences of his being in a confirmed consumption, and that he could give him no encouragement that he should ever recover. But it seemed not to occasion the least discomposure in him, not to make any manner of alteration as to the cheerfulness and serenity of his mind, or the freedom or pleasantness of his conversation.
“Lord’s day, June 7. My attention was greatly engaged, and my soul so drawn forth, this day, by what I heard of the ‘exceeding preciousness of the saving grace of God’s Spirit,’ that it almost overcame my body, in my weak state. I saw, that true grace is exceeding precious indeed; that it is very rare; and that there is but a very small degree of it, even where the reality of it is to be found; at least, I saw this to be my case.
In the preceding week I enjoyed some comfortable seasons of meditation. One morning the cause of God appeared exceeding precious to me: the Redeemer’s kingdom is all that is valuable in the earth, and I could not but long for the promotion of it in the world. I saw also, that this cause is God’s, that he has an infinitely greater regard and concern for it than I could possibly have; that if I have any true love to this blessed interest, it is only a drop derived from that ocean: hence, I was ready to ‘lift up my head with joy;’ and conclude, ‘Well, if God’s cause be so dear and precious to him, he will promote it.’
And thus I did as it were rest on God, that surely he would promote that which was so agreeable to his own will; though the time when must still be left to his sovereign pleasure.”
He was advised by physicians still to continue riding, as what would tend, above any other means, to prolong his life. He was at a loss, for some time, which way to bend his course next; but finally determined to ride from hence to Boston; we having concluded that one of this family should go with him, and be helpful to him in his weak and low state.
“Tuesday, June 9. I set out on a journey from Northampton to Boston. Travelled slowly, and got some acquaintance with divers ministers on the road.
“Having now continued to ride for some considerable time together, I felt myself much better than I had formerly done; and found, that in proportion to the prospect I had of being restored to a state of usefulness, so I desired the continuance of life: but death appeared inconceivably more desirable to me than a useless life; yet blessed be God, I found my heart, at times, fully resigned and reconciled to this greatest of afflictions, if God saw fit thus to deal with me.
“Friday, June 12. I arrived in Boston this day, somewhat fatigued with my journey. Observed that there is no rest, but in God: fatigues of body, and anxieties of mind, attend us, both in town and country; no place is exempted.
“Lord’s day, June 14. I enjoyed some enlargement and sweetness in family prayer, as well as in secret exercises; God appeared excellent, his ways full of pleasure and peace, and all I wanted was a spirit of holy fervency, to live to him.
“Wednesday, June 17. This, and the two preceding days, I spent mainly in visiting the ministers of the town, and was treated with great respect by them.
“On Thursday, June 18. I was taken exceeding ill, and brought to the gates of death, by the breaking of small ulcers in my lungs, as my physician supposed. In this extreme weak state I continued for several weeks, and was frequently reduced so low, as to be utterly speechless, and not able so much as to whisper a word; and even after I had so far revived, as to walk about the house, and to step out of doors, I was exercised every day with a faint turn, which continued usually four or five hours: at which times, though I was not so utterly speechless, but that I could say Yes or No, yet I could not converse at all, nor speak one sentence, without making stops for breath; and divers times in this season, my friends gathered round my bed, to see me breathe my last, which they looked for every moment, as I myself also did.
“How I was, the first day or two of my illness, with regard to the exercise of reason, I scarcely know; I believe I was somewhat shattered with the violence of the fever, at times: but the third day of my illness, and constantly afterwards, for four or five weeks together, I enjoyed as much serenity of mind, and clearness of thought, as perhaps I ever did in my life; and I think my mind never penetrated with so much ease and freedom into divine things, as at this time; and I never felt so capable of demonstrating the truth of many important doctrine of the gospel as now. And as I saw clearly the truth of those great doctrine, which are justly styled the doctrine of grace; so I saw with no less clearness, that the essence of religion consisted in the soul’s conformity to God, and acting above all selfish views, for his glory, longing to be for him, to live to him, and please and honour him in all things: and this from a clear view of his infinite excellency and worthiness in himself, to be loved, adored, worshipped, and served by all intelligent creatures. Thus I saw, that when a soul loves God with a supreme love, he therein acts like the blessed God himself, who most justly loves himself in that manner. So when God’s interest and his are become one, and he longs that God should be glorified, and rejoices to think that he is unchangeably possessed of the highest glory and blessedness, herein also he acts in conformity to God. In like manner, when the soul is fully resigned to, and rests satisfied and contented with, the divine will, here it is also conformed to God.
“I saw further, that as this divine temper, whereby the soul exalts God, and treads self in the dust, is wrought in the soul by God’s discovering his own glorious perfections in the face of Jesus Christ to it, by the special influences of the Holy Spirit, so he cannot but have regard to it, as his own work; and as it is his image in the soul, he cannot but take delight in it. Then I saw again, that if God should slight and reject his own moral image, he must needs deny himself; which he cannot do. And thus I saw the stability and infallibility of this religion; and that those who are truly possessed of it, have the most complete and satisfying evidence of their being interested in all the benefits of Christ’s redemption, having their hearts conformed to him; and that these, these only, are qualified for the employments and entertainments of God’s kingdom of glory; as none but these have any relish for the business of heaven, which is to ascribe glory to God, and not to themselves; and that God (though I would speak it with great reverence of his name and perfection) cannot, without denying himself, finally cast such away.
“The next thing I had then to do, was to inquire, whether this was my religion: and here God was pleased to help me to the most easy remembrance and critical review of what had passed in course, of a religious nature, through several of the latter years of my life. And although I could discover much corruption attending my best duties, many selfish views and carnal ends, much spiritual pride and self-exaltation, and innumerable other evils which compassed me about; yet God was pleased, as I was reviewing, quickly to put this question out of doubt, by showing me that I had, from time to time, acted above the utmost influence of mere self-love; that I had longed to please and glorify him, as my highest happiness, &c. And this review was through grace attended with a present feeling of the same divine temper of mind; I felt now pleased to think of the glory of God, and longed for heaven, as a state wherein I might glorify God perfectly, rather than a place of happiness for myself: and this feeling of the love of God in my heart, which I trust the Spirit of God excited in me afresh, was sufficient to give me full satisfaction, and make me long, as I had many times before done, to be with Christ. I did not now want any of the sudden suggestions, which many are so pleased with, ‘That Christ and his benefits are mine; that God loves me,’ &c. in order to give me satisfaction about my state: no, my soul now abhorred those delusions of Satan, which are thought to be the immediate witness of the Spirit, while there is nothing but an empty suggestion of a certain fact, without any gracious discovery of the divine glory, or of the Spirit’s work in their own hearts. I saw the awful delusion of this kind of confidence, as well as of the whole of that religion, from which they usually spring, or at least of which they are the attendants. The false religion of the late day, (though a day of wondrous grace,) the imaginations, and impressions made only on the animal affections together with the sudden suggestions made to the mind by Satan, transformed into an angel of light, of certain facts not revealed in Scripture and many such like things, I fear, have made up the greater part of the religious appearance in many places.
“These things I saw with great clearness, when I was thought to be dying. And God gave me great concern for his church and interest in the world, at this time: not so much because the late remarkable influence upon the minds of people was abated, as because that false religion those heats of imagination, and wild and selfish commotions of the animal affections which attended the work of grace, had prevailed so far. This was that which my mind dwelt upon, almost day and night: and this, to me, was the darkest appearance, respecting religion, in the land; for it was this, chiefly, that had prejudiced the world against inward religion. And I saw the great misery of all was, that so few saw any manner of difference between those exercises that were spiritual and holy, and those which have self-love only for their beginning, centre, and end.
“As God was pleased to afford me clearness of thought, and composure of mind, almost continually, for several weeks together under my great weakness; so he enabled me, in some measure, to improve my time, as I hope, to valuable purposes. I was enabled to write a number of important letters to friends in remote places: 407407 Among these are the eighth, ninth, and tenth letters, among his Remains. and sometimes I wrote when I was speechless, i. e. unable to maintain conversation with any body; though perhaps I was able to speak a word or two so as to be heard. At this season also, while I was confined at Boston, I read with care and attention some papers of old Mr. Shepard’s, lately come to light, and designed for the press: and as I was desired, and greatly urged, made some corrections, where the sense was left dark, for want of a word or two. Besides this, I had many visitants; with whom, when I was able to speak, I always conversed of the things of religion; and was peculiarly disposed and assisted in distinguishing between the true and false religion of the times. There was scarce any subject, that has been matter of debate in the late day, but what I was in at one time or other brought to a sort of necessity to discourse upon, and show my opinion; and that frequently before numbers of people; and especially, I discoursed repeatedly on the nature and necessity of that humiliation, self-emptiness, or full conviction of a person’s being utterly undone in himself, which is necessary in order to a saving faith, and the extreme difficulty of being brought to this, and the great danger there is of persons taking up with some self-righteous appearances of it. The danger of this I especially dwelt upon, being persuaded that multitudes perish in this hidden way; and because so little is said from most pulpits to discover any danger here: so that persons being never effectually brought to die in themselves, are never truly united to Christ, and so perish. I also discoursed much on what I take to be the essence of true religion, endeavouring plainly to describe that God-like temper and disposition of soul, and that holy conversation and behaviour, that may justly claim the honour of having God for its original and patron. And I have reason to hope God blessed my way of discoursing and distinguishing to some, both ministers and people; so that my time was not wholly lost.”
He was much visited, while in Boston, by many persons of considerable note and character, and by some of the first rank; who showed him uncommon respect, and appeared highly pleased and entertained with his conversation. And besides his being honoured with the company and respect of ministers of the town, he was visited by several ministers from various parts of the country. He took all opportunities to discourse of the peculiar nature and distinguishing characters of true, spiritual, and vital religion; and to hear his testimony against the various false appearances of it, consisting in, or arising from, impressions on the imagination, sudden and supposed immediate suggestions of truths not contained in the Scripture, and that faith which consists primarily in a person believing that Christ died for him in particular, &c. What he said was, for the most part, heard with uncommon attention and regard: and his discourses and reasonings appeared manifestly to have great weight and influence, with many that he conversed with, both ministers and others. 408408 I have had advantage for the more full information of his conduct and conversation, the entertainment he met with, and what passed relating him while in Boston; as he was constantly attended, during his continuance there, by one of my children, in order to his assistance in his illness.
Also the Honourable Commissioners in Boston, of the incorporated Society in London for propagating the Gospel in New England and parts adjacent, having newly had committed to them a legacy of the late reverend and famous Dr. Daniel Williams of London, for the support of two missionaries to the heathen, were pleased, while he was in Boston, to consult him about a mission to those Indians called the Six Nations, particularly about the qualifications requisite in a missionary to those Indians; and were so satisfied with his sentiments on this head, and had that confidence in his faithfulness, and his judgment and discretion in things of this nature, that they desired him to undertake to find and recommend a couple of persons fit to be employed in this business; and very much left the matter with him.
Likewise certain pious and generously disposed gentlemen in Boston, being moved by the wonderful narrative of his labours and success among the Indians in New Jersey, and more especially by their conversation with him on the same subject, took opportunity to inquire more particularly into the state and necessities of his congregation, and the school among them, with a charitable intention of contributing something to promote the excellent design of advancing the interests of Christianity among the Indians; and understanding that there was a want of Bibles for the school, three dozen of Bibles were immediately procured, and 14l. in bills (of the old tenor) given over and above, besides more large benefactions made afterwards, which I shall have occasion to mention in their proper place.
Mr. Brainerd’s restoration from his extremely low state in Boston, so as to go abroad again and to travel, was very unexpected to him and his friends. My daughter who was with him, writes thus concerning him, in a letter dated June 23. “On Thursday, he was very ill with a violent fever, and extreme pain in his head and breast, and at turns, delirious. So he remained till Saturday evening, when he seemed to be in the agonies of death; the family was up with him till one or two o’clock, expecting every hour would be his last. On sabbath-day he was a little revived, his head was better, but very full of pain, and exceeding sore at his breast, much put to it for breath, &c. Yesterday he was better upon all accounts. Last night he slept but little. This morning he was much worse. Dr. Pynchon says, he has no hopes of his life; nor does he think it likely he will ever come out of the chamber; though he says, he may be able to come to Northampton ”
In another letter, dated June 29, she says as follows. “Mr. Brainerd has not so much pain, nor fever, since I last wrote, as before; yet he is extremely weak and low, and very faint, expecting every day will be his last. He says, it is impossible for him to live, for he has hardly vigour enough to draw his breath. I went this morning into town, and when I came home, Mr. Bromfield said, he never expected I should see him alive; for he lay two hours, as they thought, dying; one could scarcely tell whether he was alive or not; he was not able to speak for some time: but now is much as he was before. The doctor thinks he will drop away in such a turn. Mr. Brainerd says he never felt any thing so much like dissolution, as what he felt to-day; and says he never had any conception of its being possible for any creature to be alive, and yet so weak as he is from day to day. Dr. Pynchon says, he should not be surprised if he should so recover as to live half a year; nor would it surprise him if he should die in half a day. Since I began to write he is not so well, having had a faint turn again; yet patient and resigned, having no distressing fears, but the contrary.”
His physician, the honourable Joseph Pynchon, Esq. when he visited him in his extreme illness in Boston, attributed his sinking so suddenly into a state so extremely low, and nigh unto death, to the breaking of ulcers, that had been long gathering in his lungs, (as Mr. Brainerd himself intimates in a forementioned passage in his diary,) and there discharging and diffusing their purulent matter. This, while nature was labouring and struggling to throw it off, which could be done no otherwise than by a gradual straining of it through the small vessels of those vital parts, occasioned a high fever and violent coughing, threw the whole frame of nature into the utmost disorder, and brought it near to a dissolution. But it was supposed, if the strength of nature held till the lungs had this way gradually cleared themselves of this putrid matter, he might revive, and continue better, till new ulcers gathered and broke; but that this would surely sink him again, and there was no hope of his recovery. He expressed himself to one of my neighbours, who at that time saw him in Boston, that he was as certainly a dead man as if he was shot through the heart.
But so it was ordered in divine providence, that the strength of nature held out through this great conflict, so as just to escape the grave at that turn; and then he revived, to the astonishment of all that knew his case. After he began to revive, he was visited by his youngest brother, Mr. Israel Brainerd, a student at Yale college; who having heard of his extreme illness, went from thence to Boston, in order to see him, if he might find him alive, which he but little expected.
This visit was attended with a mixture of joy and sorrow to Mr. Brainerd. He greatly rejoiced to see his brother, especially because he had desired an opportunity of some religious conversation with him before he died. But this meeting was attended with sorrow, as his brother brought to him the sorrowful tidings of his sister Spencer’s death at Haddam; a sister, between whom and him had long subsisted a peculiarly dear affection, and much intimacy in spiritual matters, and whose house he used to make his home when he went to Haddam, his native place. He had heard nothing of her sickness till this report of her death. But he had these comforts together with the tidings, viz. a confidence of her being gone to heaven, and an expectation of his soon meeting her there. His brother continued with him till he left the town, and came with him from thence to Northampton. Concerning the last sabbath Mr. Brainerd spent in Boston, he writes in his diary as follows.
“Lord’s day, July 19. I was just able to attend public worship, being earned to the house of God in a chaise. Heard Dr. Sewall preach in the forenoon: partook of the Lord’s supper at this time. In this sacrament I saw astonishing divine wisdom displayed; such wisdom as I saw required the tongues of angels and glorified saints to celebrate. It seemed to me I never should do any thing at adoring the infinite wisdom of God, discovered in the contrivance of man’s redemption, until I arrived at a world of perfection; yet I could not help striving to ‘call upon my soul, and all within me, to bless the name of God.’ In the afternoon heard Mr. Prince preach. I saw more of God in the wisdom discovered in the plan of man’s redemption, than I saw of any other of his perfections, through the whole day.”
He left Boston the next day. But before he came away, he had occasion to bear a very full, plain, and open testimony against that opinion, that the essence of saving faith lies in believing that Christ died for me in particular; and that this is the first act of faith in a true believer’s closing with Christ. He did it in a long conference he had with a gentleman, who has very publicly and strenuously appeared to defend that tenet. He had this discourse with him in the presence of a number of considerable persons, who came to visit Mr. Brainerd before he left the town, and to take their leave of him. In which debate he made this plain declaration, (at the same time confirming what he said by many arguments,) That the essence of saving faith was wholly left out of the definition which that gentleman has published; and that the faith which he had defined, had nothing of God in it, nothing above nature, nor indeed above the power of the devils; and that all such as had this faith, and had no better, though they might have this to never so high a degree, would surely perish. And he declared also, that he never had greater assurance of the falseness of the principles of those that maintained such a faith, and of their dangerous and destructive tendency, or a more affecting sense of the great delusion and misery of those that depended on getting to heaven by such a faith, (while they had no better,) than he lately had when he was supposed to be at the point to die, and expected every minute to pass into eternity. Mr. Brainerd’s discourse at this time, and the forcible reasonings by which he confirmed what he asserted, appeared to be greatly to the satisfaction of those present; as several of them took occasion expressly to manifest to him, before they took leave of him.
When this conversation was ended, having bid an affectionate farewell to his friends, he set out in the cool of the afternoon, on his journey to Northampton, attended by his brother, and my daughter that went with him to Boston; and would have been accompanied out of the town by a number of gentlemen, besides that honourable person who gave him his company for some miles on that occasion, as a testimony of their esteem and respect, had not his aversion to any thing of pomp and show prevented it.
“Saturday, July 25, I arrived here at Northampton; having set out from Boston on Monday, about four o’clock, P. M. In this journey I rode about sixteen miles a day, one day with another. Was sometimes extremely tired and faint on the road, so that it seemed impossible for me to proceed any further: at other times I was considerably better, and felt some freedom both of body and mind.
“Lord’s day, July 26. This day I saw clearly that I should never be happy; yea, that God himself could not make me happy, unless I could be in a capacity to ‘please and glorify him for ever.’ Take away this, and admit me into all the fine heavens that can be conceived of by men or angels, and I should still be miserable for ever.”
Though he had so far revived, as to be able to travel thus far, yet he manifested no expectation of recovery: he supposed, as his physician did, that his being brought so near to death at Boston, was owing to the breaking of ulcers in his lungs. He told me that he had several such ill turns before, only not to so high a degree, but as he supposed, owing to the same cause, viz. the breaking of ulcers; and that he was brought lower and lower every time; and it appeared to him, that in his last sickness he was brought as low as it was possible, and yet live; and that he had not the least expectation of surviving the next return of this breaking of ulcers; but still appeared perfectly calm in the prospect of death.
On Wednesday morning, the week after he came to Northampton, he took leave of his brother Israel, never expecting to see him again in this world; he now setting out from hence on his journey to New-Haven.
When Mr. Brainerd came hither, he had so much strength as to be able, from day to day, to ride out two or three miles, and to return; and sometimes to pray in the family; but from this time he gradually decayed, becoming weaker and weaker.
While he was here, his conversation from first to last was much on the same subjects as when in Boston. He spoke much of the nature of true religion in heart and practice, as distinguished from its various counterfeits; expressing his great concern, that the latter so much prevailed in many places. He often manifested his great abhorrence of all such doctrine and principles in religion, as had any tendency to antinomianism; of all such notions, as seemed to diminish the necessity of holiness of life, or to abate men’s regard to the commands of God, and a strict, diligent, and universal practice of virtue and piety, under a pretence of depreciating bur works, and magnifying Gods free grace. He spoke often, with much detestation, of such experiences and pretended discoveries and joys, as have nothing of the nature of sanctification in them, as do not tend to strictness, tenderness, and diligence in religion, to meekness and benevolence towards mankind, and an humble behaviour. He also declared, that he looked on such pretended humility as worthy of no regard, which was not manifested by modesty, of conduct and conversation. He spake often, with abhorrence, of the spirit and practice that appears among the greater part of separatists at this day in the land, particularly those in the eastern parts of Connecticut; in their condemning and separating from the standing ministry and churches, their crying down learning and a learned ministry, their notion of an immediate call to the work of the ministry, and the forwardness of laymen to set up themselves as public teachers. He had been much conversant in the eastern part of Connecticut, (it being near his native place,) when the same principles, notion, and spirit began to operate, which have since prevailed to a greater height; and had acquaintance with some of those persons who are become heads and leaders of the separatists. He had also been conversant with persons of the same way elsewhere; and I heard him say, once and again, he knew by his acquaintance with this sort of people, that what was chiefly and most generally in repute among them as the power of godliness, was an entirely different thing from that true vital piety recommended in the Scriptures, and had nothing in it of that nature. He manifested a great dislike of a disposition in persons to much noise and show in religion, and affecting to be abundant in proclaiming and publishing their own experiences. Though at the same time he did not condemn, but approved of Christians speaking of their own experiences on some occasions, and to some persons, with due modesty and discretion. He himself sometimes, while at my house, spake of his own experiences; but it was always with apparent reserve, and in the exercise of care and judgment with respect to occasions, persons, and circumstances. He mentioned some remarkable things of his own religious experience to two young gentlemen, candidates for the ministry, who watched with him (each at a different time) when he was very low, and not far from his end; but he desired both of them not to speak of what he had told them till after his death.
The subject of that debate I mentioned before, which he had with a certain gentleman, the day he left Boston, seemed to lie with much weight on his mind after he came hither; and he began to write a letter to that gentleman, expressing his sentiments concerning the dangerous tendency of some of the tenets he had expressed in conversation, and in the writings he had published; with the considerations by which the exceeding hurtful nature of those notions is evident; but he had not strength to finish his letter.
After he came hither, as long as he lived, he spoke much of that future prosperity of Zion which is so often foretold and promised in the Scripture. It was a theme he delighted to dwell upon; and his mind seemed to be carried forth with earnest concern about it, and intense desires, that religion might speedily and abundantly revive and flourish. Though he had not the least expectation of recovery, yea, the nearer death advanced, and the more the symptoms of its approach increased, still the more did his mind seem to be taken up with this subject. He told me, when near his end, that “he never in all his life had his mind so led forth in desires and earnest prayers for the flourishing of Christ’s kingdom on earth, as since he was brought so exceeding low at Boston.” He seemed much to wonder, that there appeared no more of a disposition in ministers and people to pray for the flourishing of religion through the world; that so little a part of their prayers was generally taken up about it, in their families, and elsewhere; and particularly, he several times expressed his wonder, that there appeared no more forwardness to comply with the proposal lately made, in a Memorial from a number of ministers in Scotland, and sent over into America, for united extraordinary prayer, among Christ’s ministers and people, for the coming of Christ’s kingdom: and he sent it as his dying advice to his own congregation, that they should practise agreeably to that proposal. 409409 His congregation, since this, have with great cheerfulness and unanimity fallen in with this advice, and have practised agreeably to the proposal from Scotland; and have at times appeared with uncommon engagedness and fervency of spirit in their meetings and united devotions, pursuant to that proposal. Also the presbyteries of New York and New Brunswick, since this, have with one consent fallen in with the proposal, as likewise some others of God’s people in those parts.
Though he was constantly exceeding weak, yet there appeared in him a continual care well to improve time and fill it up with something that might be profitable, and in some respect for the glory of God or the good of men; either profitable conversation, or writing letters to absent friends, or noting something in his diary, or looking over his former writings, correcting them, and preparing them to be left in the hands of others at his death, or giving some directions concerning the future management of his people, or employment in secret devotions. He seemed never to be easy, however ill, if he was not doing something for God, or in his service. After he came hither, he wrote a preface to a diary of the famous Mr. Shepard’s, (in those papers before mentioned, lately found,) having been much urged to it by those gentlemen in Boston who had the care of the publication: which diary, with his preface, has since been published. 410410 A part of this preface is inserted in the Reflections on these Memoirs in a subsequent part of this volume.
In his diary for Lord’s day, Aug. 9, he speaks of longing desires after death, through a sense of the excellency of a state of perfection. In his diary for Lord’s day, Aug. 16, he speaks of his having so much refreshment of soul in the house of God, that it seemed also to refresh his body. And this is not only noted in his diary, but was very observable to others: it was very apparent, not only that his mind was exhilarated with inward consolation, but also that his animal spirits and bodily strength seemed to be remarkably restored, as though he had forgot his illness. But this was the last time that ever he attended public worship on the sabbath.
On Tuesday morning that week (I being absent on a journey) he prayed with my family; but not without much difficulty, for want of bodily strength; and this was the last family prayer that ever he made. He had been wont, till now, frequently to ride out two or three miles; but this week, on Thursday, was the last time he ever did so.
“Lord’s day, Aug. 23. This morning I was considerably refreshed with the thought, yea, the hope and expectation of the enlargement of Christ’s kingdom; and I could not but hope the time was at hand, when Babylon the great would fall, and rise no more. This led me to some spiritual meditations, that were very refreshing to me. I was unable to attend public worship, either part of the day; but God was pleased to afford me fixedness and satisfaction in divine thoughts. Nothing so refreshes my soul, as when I can go to God, yea, to God my exceeding joy. When he is so, sensibly, to my soul, oh how unspeakably delightful is this!
“In the week past I had divers turns of inward refreshing; though my body was inexpressibly weak, followed continually with agues and fevers. Sometimes my soul centred in God, as my only portion; and I felt that I should be for ever unhappy if he did not reign. I saw the sweetness and happiness of being his subject, at his disposal. This made all my difficulties quickly vanish.
“From this Lord’s day, viz. Aug. 23, I was troubled very much with vapoury disorders, and could neither write nor read, and could scarcely live; although, through mercy, was not so much oppressed with heavy melancholy and gloominess, as at many other times.
Till this week he had been wont to lodge in a room above stairs; but he now grew so weak, that he was no longer able to go up stairs and down. Friday, Aug. 28, was the last time he ever went above-stairs; henceforward he betook himself to a lower room.
On Wednesday, Sept. 2, being the day of our public lecture, he seemed to be refreshed with seeing the neighbouring ministers that came hither to the lecture, and expressed a great desire once more to go to the house of God on that day: and accordingly rode to the meeting, and attended divine service, while the Reverend Mr. Woodbridge, of Hatfield, preached. He signified that he supposed it to be the last time that ever he should attend the public worship; as it proved. And indeed it was the last time that ever he went out at our gate alive.
On the Saturday evening next following he was unexpectedly visited by his brother, Mr. John Brainerd, who came to see him from New Jersey. He was much refreshed by this unexpected visit, this brother being peculiarly dear to him; and he seemed to rejoice in a devout and solemn manner, to see him, and to hear the comfortable tidings he brought concerning the state of his dear congregation of Christian Indians. A circumstance of this visit, of which he was exceeding glad, was, that his brother brought him some of his private writings from New Jersey, and, particularly his diary that he had kept for many years past.
“Lord’s day, Sept. 6. I began to read some of my private writings, which my brother brought me; and was considerably refreshed with what I met with in them.
“Monday, Sept. 7. I proceeded further in reading my old private writings, and found they had the same effect upon me as before. I could not but rejoice and bless God for what passed long ago, which without writing had been entirely lost.
“This evening, when I was in great distress of body, my soul longed that God should be glorified: I saw there was no heaven but this. I could not but speak to the bystanders then of the only happiness, viz. pleasing God. O that I could for ever live to God! The day, I trust, is at hand, the perfect day. Oh, the day of deliverance from all sin.
“Lord’s day, Sept. 13. I was much refreshed and engaged in meditation and writing, and found a heart to act for God. My spirits were refreshed, and my soul delighted to do something for God.”
On the evening following that Lord’s day, his feet began to appear sensibly swelled; which thenceforward swelled more and more. A symptom of his dissolution coming on. The next day his brother John left him, being obliged to return to New Jersey on some business of great importance and necessity; intending to return again with all possible speed, hoping to see his brother yet once more in the land of the living.
Mr. Brainerd having now, with much deliberation, considered of the important affair before mentioned, which was referred to him by the Honourable Commissioners in Boston, of the Corporation in London fur the Propagation of the Gospel in New England and parts adjacent, viz. the fixing upon and recommending of two persons proper to be employed as missionaries to the Six Nations, he about this time wrote a letter, recommending two young gentlemen of his acquaintance to those commissioners, viz. Mr. Elihu Spencer of East Haddam, and Mr. Job Strong of Northampton. The commissioners, on the receipt of this letter, cheerfully and unanimously agreed to accept of and employ the persons he had recommended. They accordingly have since waited on the commissioners to receive their instructions; and pursuant to these, have applied themselves to a preparation for the business of their mission. One of them, Mr. Spencer, has been solemnly ordained to that work, by several of the ministers of Boston, in the presence of an ecclesiastical council convened for that purpose; and is now gone forth to the nation of Oncidaes, about a hundred and seventy miles beyond Albany.
He also this week, viz. on Wednesday, Sept. 16, wrote a letter to a particular gentleman in Boston (one of those charitable persons before mentioned, who appeared so forward to contribute of their substance for promoting Christianity among the Indians) relating to the growth of the Indian school. And the need of another schoolmaster, or some person to assist the schoolmaster in instructing the Indian children. These gentlemen, on the receipt of this letter, had a meeting, and agreed with great cheerfulness to give 200l. (in bills of the old tenor) for the support of another schoolmaster; and desired the Reverend Mr. Pemberton of New York, (who was then at Boston, and was also, at their desire, present at their meeting,) as soon as possible to procure a suitable person for that service; and also agreed to allow 75l. to defray some special charges that were requisite to encourage the mission to the Six Nations, (besides the salary allowed by the commissioners,) which was also done on some intimations given by Mr. Brainerd.
Mr. Brainerd spent himself much in writing those letters, being exceeding weak: but it seemed to be much to his satisfaction, that he had been enabled to do it; hoping that it was something done for God, and which might be for the advancement of Christ’s kingdom and glory. In writing the last of these letters, he was obliged to use the hand of another, not being able to write himself.
On the Thursday of this week (Sept. 17.) was the last time that ever he went out of his lodging room. That day he was again visited by his brother Israel, who continued with him thenceforward till his death. On that evening, he was taken with something of a diarrhœa; which he looked upon as another sign of his approaching death: whereupon he expressed himself thus; “Oh, the glorious time is now coming! I have longed to serve God perfectly: now God will gratify those desires!” And from time to time, at the several steps and new symptoms of the sensible approach of his dissolution, he was so far from being sunk or damped, that he seemed to be animated, and made more cheerful; as being glad at the appearance of death’s approach. He often used the epithet, glorious, when speaking of the day of his death, calling it that glorious day. And as he saw his dissolution gradually approaching, he talked much about it; and with perfect calmness he spoke of a future state. He also settled all his affairs, giving directions very particularly and minutely, concerning what he would have done in one respect and another after his decease. And the nearer death approached, the more desirous he seemed to be of it. He several times spoke of the different kinds of willingness to die; and represented it as an ignoble, mean kind, to be willing to leave the body, only to get rid of pain; or to go to heaven, only to get honour and advancement there.
“Saturday, Sept. 19. Near night, while I attempted to walk a little, my thoughts turned thus; ‘How infinitely sweet it is, to love God, and be all for him!’ Upon which it was suggested to me, ‘You are not an angel, not lively and active.’ To which my whole soul immediately replied, ‘I as sincerely desire to love and glorify God, as any angel in heaven.’ Upon which it was suggested again, ‘But you are filthy, not fit for heaven.’ Hereupon instantly appeared the blessed robes of Christ’s righteousness, which I could not but exult and triumph in; and I viewed the infinite excellency of God, and my soul even broke with longings that God should be glorified. I thought of dignity in heaven; but instantly the thought returned, ‘I do not go to heaven to get honour, but to give all possible glory and praise.’ Oh, how I longed that God should be glorified on earth also! Oh, I was made for eternity, if God might be glorified! Bodily pains I cared not for; though I was then in extremity, I never felt easier. I felt willing to glorify God in that state of bodily distress, as long as he pleased I should continue in it. The grave appeared really sweet, and I longed to lodge my weary bones in it: but oh, that God might be glorified! this was the burden of all my cry. Oh, I knew I should be active as an angel in heaven; and that I should be stripped of my filthy garments! so that there was no objection. But, oh, to love and praise God more, to please him for ever! this my soul panted after, and even now pants for while I write. Oh that God might be glorified in the whole earth! ‘Lord, let thy kingdom come.’ I longed for a Spirit of preaching to descend and rest on ministers, that they might address the consciences of men with closeness and power. I saw God ‘had the residue of the Spirit;’ and my soul longed it should be ‘poured from on high.’ I could not but plead with God for my dear congregation, that he would preserve it, and not suffer his great name to lose its glory in that work; my soul still longing that God might be glorified.“
The extraordinary frame he was in that evening could not be hid; “his mouth spake out of the abundance of his heart,” expressing in a very affecting manner much the same things as are written in his diary; and among very many other extraordinary expressions, which he then uttered, were such as these; ”My heaven is to please God, and glorify him, and to give all to him, and to be wholly devoted to his glory: that is the heaven I long for; that is my religion, and that is my happiness, and always was ever since I suppose I had any true religion: and all those that are of that religion shall meet me in heaven. I do not go to heaven to be advanced, but to give honour to God. It is no matter where I shall be stationed in heaven, whether I have a high or low seat there; but to love, and please, and glorify God is all. Had I a thousand souls, if they were worth any thing, I would give them all to God; but I have nothing to give, when all is done. It is impossible for any rational creature to be happy without acting all for God: God himself could not make him happy any other way. I long to be in heaven, praising and glorifying God with the holy angels: all my desire is to glorify God, My heart goes out to the burying place; it seems to me a desirable place: but oh to glorify, God! that is it; that is above all. It is a great comfort to me to think that I have done a little for God in the world: oh! it is but a very small matter; yet I have done a little; and I lament it that I have not done more for him. There is nothing in the world worth living for, but doing good and finishing God’s work, doing the work that Christ did. I see nothing else in the world that can yield any satisfaction, besides living to God, pleasing him, and doing his whole will. My greatest joy and comfort has been to do something for promoting the interest of religion, and the souls of particular persons: and now in my illness, while I am full of pain and distress from day to day, all the comfort I have is in being able to do some little char (or small piece of work), for God; either by something that I say, or by writing, or some other way.”
He intermingled with these and other like expressions, many pathetical counsels to those who were about him: particularly to my children and servants. He applied himself to some of my younger children at this time; calling them to him, and speaking to them one by one; setting before them in a very plain manner the nature and essence of true piety, and its great importance and necessity; earnestly warning them not to rest in any thing short of a true and thorough change of heart, and a life devoted to God. He counselled them not to be slack in the great business of religion, nor in the least to delay it; enforcing his counsels with this, that his words were the words of a dying man: said he, “I shall die here, and here I shall be buried, and here you will see my grave, and do you remember what I have said to you. I am going into eternity; and it is sweet to me to think of eternity: the endlessness of it makes it sweet: but oh, what shall I say to the eternity of the wicked! I cannot mention it, nor think of it; the thought is too dreadful. When you see my grave, then remember what I said to you while I was alive; then think with yourself, how the man who lies in that grave counselled and warned me to prepare for death.”
His body seemed to be marvellously strengthened, through the inward vigour and refreshment of his mind; so that, although before he was so weak that he could hardly utter a sentence, yet now he continued his most affecting and profitable discourse to us for more than an hour, with scarce any intermission; and said of it, when he had done, “it was the last sermon that ever he should preach.” This extraordinary frame of mind continued the next day; of which he says in his diary as follows.
“Lord’s day, Sept. 20. Was still in a sweet and comfortable frame: and was again melted with desires that God might be glorified, and with longings to love and live to him. Longed for the influences of the divine Spirit to descend on ministers, in a special manner. And oh, I longed to be with God, to behold his glory, and to bow in his presence!”
It appears by what is noted in his diary, both of this day and the evening preceding, that his mind at this time was much impressed with a sense of the importance of the work of the ministry, and the need of the grace of God, and his special spiritual assistance in this work. It also appeared in what he expressed in conversation; particularly in his discourse to his brother Israel, who was then a member of Yale college at New Haven, prosecuting his studies for the work of the ministry. 411411 This young gentleman was an ingenious, serious, studious, and hopefully truly pious person; there appeared in him many qualities giving hope of his being a great blessing in his day. But it has pleased God, since the death of his brother, to take him away also. He died that winter, at New Haven, on January 6, 1748, of a nervous fever, after about a fortnight’s illness. He now, and from time to time, in this his dying state, recommended to his brother a life of self-denial, of weanedness from the world, and devotedness to God, and an earnest endeavour to obtain much of the grace of God’s Spirit, and God’s gracious influences on his heart; representing the great need which ministers stand in of them, and the unspeakable benefit of them from his own experience. Among many other expressions, he said thus; “When ministers feel these special gracious influences on their hearts, it wonderfully assists them to come at the consciences of men, and as it were to handle them; whereas, without them, whatever reason and oratory we make use of, we do but make use of stumps, instead of hands.“
Monday, Sept. 21. I began to correct a little volume of my private writings. God, I believe, remarkably helped me in it; my strength was surprisingly lengthened out, my thoughts were quick and lively, and my soul refreshed, hoping it might be a work for God. Oh, how good, how sweet it is, to labour for God!
Tuesday, Sept. 22. Was again employed in reading and correcting, and had the same success as the day before. I was exceeding weak; but it seemed to refresh my soul thus to spend time.
“Wednesday, Sept. 23. I finished my corrections of the little piece before mentioned, and felt uncommonly peaceful: it seemed as if I had now done all my work in this world, and stood ready for my call to a better. As long as I see any thing to be done for God, life is worth having: but oh, how vain and unworthy it is, to live for any lower end! This day I indited a letter, I think, of great importance, to the Reverend Mr. Byram in New Jersey. Oh that God would bless and succeed that letter, which was written for the benefit of his church! 412412 It was concerning the qualifications of ministers, and the examination and licensing of candidates for the work of the ministry. Oh that God would purify the sons of Levi, that his glory may be advanced! This night I endured a dreadful turn, wherein my life was expected scarce an hour or minute together. But blessed be God, I have enjoyed considerable sweetness in divine things this week, both by night and day.
“Thursday, Sept. 24. My strength began to fail exceedingly; which looked further as if I had done all my work: however, I had strength to fold and superscribe my letter. About two I went to bed, being weak and much disordered, and lay in a burning fever till night, without any proper rest. In the evening I got up, having lain down in some of my clothes; but was in the greatest distress that ever I endured, having an uncommon kind of hiccough; which either strangled me, or threw me into a straining to vomit; and at the same time was distressed with griping pains. Oh, the distress of this evening! I had little expectation of my living the night through, nor indeed had any about me: and I longed for the finishing moment! l was obliged to repair to bed by six o’clock; and through mercy enjoyed some rest; but was grievously distressed at turns with the hiccough. My soul breathed after God, ‘When shall I come to God, even to God, my exceeding joy?’ Oh for his blessed likeness!
“Friday, Sept. 25. This day I was unspeakably weak, and little better than speechless all the day: however, I was able to write a little, and felt comfortably in some part of the day. Oh, it refreshed my soul, to think of former things, of desires to glorify God, of the pleasures of living to him! Oh, my dear God, I am speedily coming to thee, I hope. Hasten the day, O Lord, if it be thy blessed will. Oh come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. Amen.†
“Saturday, Sept. 26. I felt the sweetness of divine things this forenoon; and had the consolation of a consciousness that I was doing something for God.
“Lord’s day, Sept. 27. This was a very comfortable day to my soul; I think I awoke with God. I was enabled to lift up my soul to God early this morning; and while I had little bodily strength, I found freedom to lift up my heart to God for myself and others. Afterwards was pleased with the thoughts of speedily entering into the unseen world.”
Early this morning, as one of the family came into the room, he expressed himself thus: “I have had more pleasure this morning, than all the drunkards in the world enjoy.” So much did he esteem the joy of faith above the pleasures of sin. He felt that morning an unusual appetite to food, with which his mind seemed to be exhilarated, looking on it as a sign of the very near approach of death. At this time he also said, “I was born on a sabbath-day; and I have reason to think I was new-born on a sabbath-day; and I hope I shall die on this sabbath-day. I shall look upon it as a favour, if it may be the will of God that it should be so: I long for the time. Oh, ‘why is his chariot so long in coming? why tarry the wheels of his chariots?’ I am very willing to part with all: I am willing to part with my dear brother John, and never to see him again, to go to be for ever with the Lord. 413413 He had, before this, expressed a desire, if it might be the will of God, to live till his brother returned from New Jersey: who, when he went away, intended, if possible, to perform his journey, and return in a fortnight; hoping once more to meet his brother in the land of the living. The fortnight was now near expired, it ended the next day. Oh, when I go there, how will God’s dear church on earth be upon my mind!”
Afterwards, the same morning, being asked, how he did? he answered, “I am almost in eternity. I long to be there. My work is done: I have done with all my friends: all the world is nothing to me. I long to be in heaven, praising and glorifying God with the holy angels. All my desire is to glorify God.“
During the whole of these last two weeks of his life, he seemed to continue in this frame of heart; loose from all the world, as having finished his work, and done with all things here below. He had now nothing to do but to die, and to abide in an earnest desire and expectation of the happy moment, when his soul should take its flight to a state of perfect holiness, in which he should be found perfectly glorifying and enjoying God. He said, “That the consideration of the day of death, and the day of judgment, had a long time been peculiarly sweet to him.” From time to time he spake of his being willing to leave the body and the world immediately, that day, that night, that moment, if it was the will of God. He also was much engaged in expressing his longings that the church of Christ on earth might flourish, and Christ’s kingdom here might be advanced, notwithstanding he was about to leave the earth, and should not with his eyes behold the desirable event, nor be instrumental in promoting it. He said to me, one morning, as I came into the room, “My thoughts have been employed on the old dear theme, the prosperity of God’s church on earth. As I waked out of sleep, I was led to cry for the pouring out of God’s Spirit, and the advancement of Christ’s kingdom, which the dear Redeemer did and suffered so much for. It is that especially makes me long for it.” He expressed much hope that a glorious advancement of Christ’s kingdom was near at hand.
He once told me, that “he had formerly longed for the outpouring of the Spirit of God, and the glorious times of the church, and hoped they were coming; and should have been willing to have lived to promote religion at that time, if that had been the will of God; but, says he, I am willing it should be as it is; I would not have the choice to make for myself, for ten thousand worlds.” He expressed on his deathbed a full persuasion that he should in heaven see the prosperity of the church on earth, and should rejoice with Christ therein; and the consideration of it seemed to be highly pleasing and satisfying to his mind.
He also still dwelt much on the great importance of the work of gospel ministers; and expressed his longings, that they might be filled with the Spirit of God. He manifested much desire to see some of the neighbouring ministers, with whom he had some acquaintance, and whose sincere friendship he was confident, that he might converse freely with them on that subject, before he died. And it so happened, that he had opportunity with some of them according to his desire.
Another thing that lay much on his heart, from time to time, in these near approaches of death, was the spiritual prosperity of his own congregation of Christian Indians in New Jersey: and when he spake of them, it was with peculiar tenderness; so that his speech would be presently interrupted and drowned with tears.
He also expressed much satisfaction in the disposals of Providence, with regard to the circumstances of his death; particularly that God had before his death given him an opportunity in Boston, with so many considerable persons, ministers and others, to give in his testimony for God against false religion, and many mistakes that lead to it, and promote it. He was much pleased that he had an opportunity there to lay before pious and charitable gentlemen the state of the Indians, and their necessities, to so good effect; and that God had since enabled him to write to them further concerning these affairs; and to write other letters of importance, that he hoped might be of good influence with regard to the state of religion among the Indians, and elsewhere, after his death. He expressed great thankfulness to God for his mercy in these things. He also mentioned it as what he accounted a merciful circumstance of his death, that he should die here. 414414 The editor takes leave to make the remark, that when Mr. Brainerd was at Boston, sick nigh unto death, it was with reluctance he thought of dying in a place where funerals are often attended with a pomp and show, which (especially on occasion of his own) he was very averse to any appearance of: and though it was with some difficulty he got his mind reconciled to the prospect then before him, yet at last he was brought to acquiesce in the divine will, with respect to this circumstance of his departure. However, it pleased God to order the event so as to gratify his desire, which he had expressed, of getting back to Northampton, with a view particularly to a more silent and private burial. And speaking of these things, he said, “God had granted him all his desire;” and signified, that now he could with the greater alacrity leave the world.
“Monday, Sept. 28. I was able to read, and make some few corrections in my private writings; but found I could not write as I had done; I found myself sensibly declined in all respects. It has been only from a little while before noon, till about one or two o’clock, that I have been able to do any thing for some time past: yet this refreshed my heart, that I could do any thing, either public or private, that I hoped was for God.”
This evening he was supposed to be dying: he thought so himself, and was thought so by those who were about him. He seemed glad at the appearance of the near approach of death. He was almost speechless, but his lips appeared to move: and one that sat very near him, heard him utter such expressions as these, “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. Oh, why is his chariot so long in coming.” After he revived, he blamed himself for having been too eager to be gone. And in expressing what he found in the frame of his mind at that time, he said, he then found an inexpressibly sweet love to those that he looked upon as belonging to Christ, beyond almost all that ever he felt before; so that it “seemed (to use his own words) like a little piece of heaven to have one of them near him.” And being asked, whether he heard the prayer that was (at his desire) made with him; he said, “Yes, he heard every word, and had an uncommon sense of the things that were uttered in that prayer, and that every word reached his heart.”
On the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 29, as he lay on his bed, he seemed to be in an extraordinary frame; his mind greatly engaged in sweet meditations concerning the prosperity of Zion. There being present here at that time two young gentlemen of his acquaintance, that were candidates for the ministry, he desired us all to unite in singing a psalm on that subject, even Zion’s prosperity. And on his desire we sung a part of the 102d Psalm. This seemed much to refresh and revive him, and gave him new strength; so that, though before he could scarcely speak at all, now he proceeded with some freedom of speech, to give his dying counsels to those two young gentlemen before mentioned, relating to their preparation for, and prosecution of, that great work of the ministry they were designed for; and in particular, earnestly recommended to them frequent secret fasting and prayer: and enforced his counsel with regard to this, from his own experience of the great comfort and benefit of it; which (said he) I should not mention, were it not that I am a dying person. And after he had finished his counsel, he made a prayer in the audience of us all; wherein, besides praying for this family, for his brethren, and those candidates for the ministry, and for his own congregation, he earnestly prayed for the reviving and flourishing of religion in the world. Till now, he had every day sat up part of the day; but after this he never rose from his bed.
Wednesday, Sept. 30. I was obliged to keep my bed the whole day, through weakness. However, redeemed a little time, and, with the help of my brother, read and corrected about a dozen pages in my MS. giving an account of my conversion.
Thursday, Oct. 1. I endeavoured again to do something by way of writing, but soon found my powers of body and mind utterly fail. Felt not so sweetly as when I was able to do something that I hoped would do some good. In the evening was discomposed and wholly delirious; but it was not long before God was pleased to give me some sleep, and fully composed my mind. 415415 >From this time forward he had the free use of his reason till the day before his death; excepting that at some times he appeared a little lost for a moment, at first waking out of sleep. Oh, blessed he God for his great goodness to me, since I was so low at Mr. Bromfield’s, on Thursday, June 18, last. He has, except those few minutes, given me the clear exercise of my reason, and enabled me to labour much for him, in things both of a public and private nature; and perhaps to do more good than I should have done if I had been well; besides the comfortable influences of his blessed Spirit, with which he has been pleased to refresh my soul. May his name have all the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
“Friday, Oct. 2. My soul was this day, at turns, sweetly set on God: I longed to be with him, that I might behold his glory. I felt sweetly disposed to commit all to him, even my dearest friends, my dearest flock, my absent brother, and all my concerns for time and eternity. Oh that his kingdom might come in the world; that they might all love and glorify him, for what he is in himself; and that the blessed Redeemer might ‘see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied!’ ‘Oh come, Lord Jesus, come quickly! Amen.’” 416416 Here ends his diary: these are the last words that are written in it, either by his own hand, or by any other from his mouth.
The next evening we very much expected his brother John from New Jersey; it being about a week after the time that he proposed for his return, when he went away. And though our expectations were still disappointed; yet Mr. Brainerd seemed to continue unmoved, in the same calm and peaceful frame that he had before manifested; as having resigned all to God, and having done with his friends, and with all things here below.
On the morning of the next day, being Lord’s day, Oct. 4, as my daughter Jerusha (who chiefly attended him) came into the room, he looked on her very pleasantly, and said,” Dear Jerusha, are you willing to part with me?—I am quite willing to part with you: I am willing to part with all my friends: I am willing to part with my dear brother John, although I love him the best of any creature living: I have committed him and all my friends to God, and can leave them with God. Though, if I thought I should not see you and be happy with you in another world, I could not bear to part with you. But we shall spend a happy eternity together!” 417417 Since this, it has pleased a holy and sovereign God to take away this my dear child by death, on the 14th of February, next following, after a short illness of five days, in the eighteenth year of her age. She was a person of much the same spirit with Mr. Brainerd. She had constantly taken care of and attended him in his sickness, for nineteen weeks before his death; devoting herself to it with great delight, because she looked on him as an eminent servant of Jesus Christ. In this time he had much conversation with her on the things of religion; and in his dying state, often expressed to us, her parents, his great satisfaction concerning her true piety, and his confidence that he should meet her in heaven: and his high opinion of her, not only as a true Christian, but a very eminent saint: one whose soul was uncommonly fed and entertained with things that appertain to the most spiritual, experimental, and distinguishing parts of religion; and one who, by the temper of her mind, was fitted to deny herself for God, and to do good, beyond any young women whatsoever that he knew of. She had manifested a heart uncommonly devoted to God, in the course of her life, many years before her death: and said on her death-bed, that “she had not seen one minute for several years, wherein she desired to live one minute longer, for the sake of any other good in life, but doing good, living to God, and doing what might be for his glory.” In the evening, as one came into the room with a Bible in her hand, he expressed himself thus; “Oh that dear book! that lovely book! I shall soon see it opened! the mysteries that are in it, and the mysteries of God’s providence, will be all unfolded!”
His distemper now very apparently preyed on his vitals in an extraordinary manner: not by a sudden breaking of ulcers in his lungs, as at Boston, but by a constant discharge of purulent matter, in great quantities: so that what he brought up by expectoration, seemed to be as it were mouthfuls of almost clear pus; which was attended with very inward pain and distress.
On Thursday, Oct. 6, he lay for a considerable time as if he were dying. At which time he was heard to utter, in broken whispers, such expressions as these; “He will come, he will not tarry. I shall soon he in glory. I shall soon glorify God with the angels.” But after some time he revived.
The next day, Wednesday, Oct. 7, his brother John arrived from New Jersey; where he had been detained much longer than he intended, by a mortal sickness prevailing among the Christian Indians, and by some other circumstances that made his stay with them necessary. Mr. Brainerd was affected and refreshed with seeing him, and appeared fully satisfied with the reasons of his delay; seeing the interest of religion and of the souls of his people required it.
The next day, Thursday, Oct. 8, he was in great distress and agonies of body; and for the greater part of the day, was much disordered as to the exercise of his reason. In the evening he was more composed, and had the use of his reason well; but the pain of his body continued and increased. He told me, it was impossible for any to conceive of the distress he felt in his breast. He manifested much concern lest he should dishonour God by impatience, under his extreme agony; which was such, that he said, the thought of enduring it one minute longer was almost insupportable. He desired that others would be much in lifting up their hearts continually to God for him, that God would support him, and give him patience. He signified, that he expected to die that night; but seemed to fear a longer delay: and the disposition of his mind with regard to death appeared still the same that it had been all along. And notwithstanding his bodily agonies, yet the interest of Zion lay still with great weight on his mind; as appeared by some considerable discourse he had that evening with the Reverend Mr. Billing, one of the neighbouring ministers, (who was then present,) concerning the great importance of the work of the ministry, &c. And afterwards, when it was very late in the night, he had much very proper and profitable discourse with his brother John, concerning his congregation in New Jersey, and the interest of religion among the Indians. In the latter part of the night, his bodily distress seemed to rise to a greater height than ever; and he said to those then about him, that “it was another thing to die than people imagined;” explaining himself to mean that they were not aware what bodily pain and anguish is undergone before death. Towards day, his eyes fixed; and he continued lying immovable, till about six o’clock in the morning, and then expired, on Friday, Oct. 9, 1747; when his soul, as we may well conclude, was received by his dear Lord and Master, as an eminently faithful servant, into that state of perfection of holiness, and fruition of God, which he had so often and so ardently longed for; and was welcomed by the glorious assembly in the upper world, as one peculiarly fitted to join them in their blessed employ and enjoyment.
Much respect was shown to his memory at his funeral which was on the Monday following, after a sermon preached the same day, on that solemn occasion. His funeral was attended by eight of the neighbouring ministers, and seventeen other gentlemen of liberal education, and a great concourse of people.
|« Prev||PART VIII. From his return to Susquehannah, till…||Next »|