FROM HIS BEGINNING TO INSTRUCT THE INDIANS AT KAUNAUMEEK, TO HIS ORDINATION.
“Friday, April 1, 1743. I rode to Kaunaumeek, near twenty miles from Stockbridge, where the Indians live with whom I am concerned, and there lodged on a little heap of straw. I was greatly exercised with inward trials and distresses all day; and in the evening, my heart was sunk, and I seemed to have no God to go to. O that God would help me!”
The next five days he was for the most part in a dejected, depressed state of mind, and sometimes extremely so. He speaks of God's “waves and billows rolling over his soul;” and of his being ready sometimes to say, “Surely his mercy is clean gone for ever, and he will be favourable no more;” and says, the anguish he endured was nameless and inconceivable; but at the same time speaks thus concerning his distresses, “What God designs by all my distresses I know not; but this I know, I deserve them all and thousands more.”--He gives an account of the Indians kindly receiving him, and being seriously attentive to his instructions.
“Thursday, April 7. Appeared to myself exceeding ignorant, weak, helpless, unworthy, and altogether unequal to my work. It seemed to me I should never do any service or have any success among the Indians. My soul was weary of my life; I longed for deaths beyond measure. When I thought of any godly soul departed, my soul was ready to envy him his privilege, thinking, ‘Oh, when will my turn come! must it be years first!'--But I know, these ardent desires, at this and other times, rose partly for want of resignation to God under all miseries; and so were but impatience. Towards night, I had the exercise of faith in prayer, and some assistance in writing. O that God would keep me near him!
“Friday, April 8. Was exceedingly pressed under a sense of my pride, selfishness, bitterness, and party spirit, in times past, while I attempted to promote the cause of God. Its vile nature and dreadful consequences appeared in such odious colours to me, that my very heart was pained. I saw how poor souls stumbled over it into everlasting destruction, that I was constrained to make that prayer in the bitterness of my soul, ‘O Lord, deliver me from blood-guiltiness.' I saw my desert of hell on this account. My soul was full of inward anguish and shame before God, that I had spent so much time in conversation tending only to promote a party spirit. Oh, I saw I had not suitably prized mortification, self-denial, resignation under all adversities, meekness, love, candour, and holiness of heart and life: and this day was almost wholly spent in such bitter and soul-afflicting reflections on my past frames and conduct.--Of late I have thought much of having the kingdom of Christ advanced in the world; but now I had enough to do within myself. The Lord be merciful to me a sinner, and wash my soul!
* Mantauk is the eastern cape or end of Long Island, inhabited chiefly by Indians.
† These ministers were the correspondents who now met at Woodbridge, and gave Mr. Brainerd new directions. Instead of sending him to the Indians at the Forks of Delaware, as before intended, they ordered him to go to a number of Indians, at Kaunaumeek: a place in the province of New York, in the woods between Stockbridge and Albany. This alteration was occasioned by two things, viz. 1. Information that the correspondents had received of some contention now subsisting between the white people and the Indians at Delaware, concerning their lands, which they supposed would be a hinderance at present to their entertainment of a missionary, and to his success among them. And, 2. Some intimations they had received from Mr. Sergeant, missionary to the Indians at Stockbridge, concerning the Indians at Kaunaumeek, and the hopeful prospect of success that a missionary might have among them.
‡ These were the same Indians that Mr. Brainerd mentions in his diary, on August 12, the preceding year.
“Saturday, April 9. Remained much in the same state as yesterday; excepting that the sense of my vileness was not so quick and acute.
“Lord's day, April 10. Rose early in the morning, and walked out, and spent a considerable time in the woods, in prayer and meditation. Preached to the Indians, both forenoon and afternoon. They behaved soberly in general: two or three in particular appeared under some religious concern; with whom I discoursed privately; and one told me, ‘her heart had cried, ever since she heard me preach first.'”
The next day, he complains of much desertion.
“Tuesday, April 12. Was great oppressed with grief and shame, reflecting on my past conduct, my bitterness and party zeal. I was ashamed to think that such a wretch as I had ever preached.--Longed to be excused from that work. And when my soul was not in anguish and keen distress, I felt senseless ‘as a beast before God,' and felt a kind of guilty amusement with the least trifles; which still maintained a kind of stifled horror of conscience, so that I could not rest any more than a condemned malefactor.
“Wednesday, April 13. My heart was overwhelmed within me: I verily thought I was the meanest, vilest, most helpless, guilty, ignorant, benighted creature living. And yet I knew what God had done for my soul, at the same time: though sometimes I was assaulted with damping doubts and fears, whether it was possible for such a wretch as I to be in a state of grace.
“Thursday, April 14. Remained much in the same state as yesterday.
“Friday, April 15. In the forenoon, very disconsolate. In the afternoon, preached to my people, and was a little encouraged in some hopes that God might bestow mercy on their souls.--Felt somewhat resigned to God under all dispensations of his providence.
“Saturday, April 16. Still in the depths of distress.--In the afternoon, preached to my people; but was more discouraged with them than before; feared that nothing would ever be done for them to any happy effect. I retired and poured out my soul to God for mercy; but without any sensible relief. Soon after came an Irishman and a Dutchman, with a design, as they said, to hear me preach the next day; but none can tell how I felt, to hear their profane talk. Oh, I longed that some dear Christian knew my distress. I got into a kind of hovel, and there groaned out my complaint to God; and withal felt more sensible gratitude and thankfulness to God, that he had made me to differ from these men, as I knew through grace he had.
“Lord's day, April 17. In the morning was again distressed as soon as I waked, hearing much talk about the world and the things of it. I perceived the men were in some measure afraid of me; and I discoursed something about sanctifying the sabbath, if possible to solemnize their minds: but when they were at a little distance, they again talked freely about secular affairs. Oh, I thought what a hell it would be, to live with such men to eternity! The Lord gave me some assistance in preaching, all day, and some resignation, and a small degree of comfort in prayer at night.”
He continued in this disconsolate frame the next day.
“Tuesday, April 19. In the morning I enjoyed some sweet repose and rest in God; felt some strength and confidence in him; and my soul was in some measure refreshed and comforted. Spent most of the day in writing, and had some exercise of grace, sensible and comfortable. My soul seemed lifted above the deep waters, wherein it has been so long almost drowned; felt some spiritual longings and breathings of soul after God; and found myself engaged for the advancement of Christ's kingdom in my own soul.
“Wednesday, April 20. Set apart this day for fasting and prayer, to bow my soul before God for the bestowment of divine grace; especially that all my spiritual afflictions and inward distresses might be sanctified to my soul. And endeavoured also to remember the goodness of God to me the year past, this day being my birth-day. Having obtained help of God, I have hitherto lived, and am now arrived at the age of twenty-five years. My soul was pained to think of my barrenness and deadness; that I have lived so little to the glory of the eternal God. I spent the day in the woods alone, and there poured out my complaint to God. O that God would enable me to live to his glory for the future!
“Thursday, April 21. Spent the forenoon in reading and prayer, and found myself engaged; but still much depressed in spirit under a sense of my vileness and unfitness for any public service. In the afternoon, I visited my people, and prayed and conversed with some about their souls' concerns; and afterwards found some ardour of soul in secret prayer. O that I might grow up into the likeness of God!
“Friday, April 22. Spent the day in study, reading, and prayer; and felt a little relieved of my burden, that has been so heavy of late. But still was in some measure oppressed; and had a sense of barrenness. Oh, my leanness testifies against me! my very soul abhors itself for its unlikeness to God, its inactivity and sluggishness. When I have done all, alas, what an unprofitable servant am I! My soul groans, to see the hours of the day roll away, because I do not fill them in spirituality and heavenly mindedness. And yet I long they should speed their pace, to hasten me to my eternal home, where I may fill up all my moments, through eternity, for God and his glory.”
On Saturday and Lord's day, his melancholy again prevailed; he complained of his ignorance, stupidity, and senselessness; while yet he seems to have spent the time with the utmost diligence, in study, in prayer, in instructing and counselling the Indians. On Monday he sunk into the deepest melancholy; so that he supposed he never spent a day in such distress in his life; not in fears of hell, (which, he says, he had no pressing fear of,) but a distressing sense of his own vileness, &c. On Tuesday, he expresses some relief. Wednesday he kept as a day of fasting and prayer, but in great distress. The three days next following his melancholy continued, but in a less degree, and with intervals, of comfort.*
“Lord's day, May 1. Was at Stockbridge to-day. In the forenoon had some relief and assistance; though not so much as usual. In the afternoon felt poorly in body and soul; while I was preaching, seemed to be rehearsing idle tales, without the least life, fervour, sense, or comfort; and especially afterwards, at the sacrament, my soul was filled with confusion, and the utmost anguish that ever I endured, under the feeling of my inexpressible vileness and meanness. It was a most bitter and distressing season to me, by reason of the view I had of my own heart, and the secret abominations that lurk there: I thought the eyes of all in the house were upon me, and I dared not look my one in the face; for it verily seemed as if they saw the vileness of my heart, and all the sins I had ever been guilty of. And if I had been banished from the presence of all mankind, never to be seen any more, or so much as thought of, still I should have been distressed with shame; and I should have been ashamed to see the most barbarous people on earth, because I was viler, and seemingly more brutishly ignorant, than they.--‘I am made to possess the sins of my youth.'”
The remaining days of this week were spent, for the most part, in inward distress and gloominess. The next sabbath, he had encouragement, assistance, and comfort; but on Monday sunk again.
“Tuesday, May 10. Was in the same state, as to my mind, that I have been in for some time; extremely pressed with a sense of guilt, pollution, and blindness: ‘The iniquity of my heels have compassed me about; the sins of my youth have been set before me; they have gone over my head, as a heavy burden, too heavy for me to bear.' Almost all the actions of my life past seem to be covered over with sin and guilt; and those of them that I performed in the most conscientious manner, now fill me with shame and confusion, that I cannot hold up my face. Oh! the pride, selfishness, hypocrisy, ignorance, bitterness, party-zeal, and the want of love, candour, meekness, and gentleness, that have attended my attempts to promote religion and virtue; and this when I have reason to hope I had real assistance from above, and some sweet intercourse with heaven! But, alas, what corrupt mixtures attended my best duties!”
* On the last of these days he wrote the first letter in the collection of his letters among his Remains.
The next seven days his gloom and distress continued for the most part, but he had some turns of relief and spiritual comfort. He gives an account of his spending part of this time in hard labour, to build himself a little cottage to live in amongst the Indians, in which he might be by himself; having, it seems, hitherto lived with a poor Scotchman, as he observes in the letter just now referred to; and afterwards, before his own house was habitable, lived in a wigwam among the Indians.
“Wednesday, May 18. My circumstances are such, that I have no comfort, of any kind, but what I have in God. I live in the most lonesome wilderness; have but one single person to converse with, that can speak English.* Most of the talk I hear, is either Highland Scotch or Indian. I have no fellow-Christian to whom I might unbosom myself, or lay open my spiritual sorrows; with whom I might take sweet counsel in conversation about heavenly things, and join in social prayer. I live poorly with regard to the comforts of life: most of my diet consists of boiled corn, hasty-pudding, &c. I lodge on a bundle of straw, my labour is hard and extremely difficult, and I have little appearance of success to comfort me. The Indians have no land to live on but what the Dutch people lay claim to; and these threaten to drive them off. They have no regard to the souls of the poor Indians; and, by what I can learn, they hate me, because I come to preach to them.--But that which makes all my difficulties grievous to be borne, is, that God hides his face from me.
“Thursday, May 19. Spent most of this day in close studies; but was sometimes so distressed that I could think of nothing but my spiritual blindness, ignorance, pride, and misery. Oh, I have reason to make that prayer, ‘Lord, forgive my sins of youth, and former trespasses.'
“Friday, May 20. Was much perplexed some part of the day; but towards night, had some comfortable meditations on Isa. xl. 1. ‘Comfort ye, comfort ye,' &c. and enjoyed some sweetness in prayer. Afterwards my soul rose so far above the deep waters, that I dared to rejoice in God. I saw there was sufficient matter of consolation in the blessed God.”
The next nine days his burdens were for the most part alleviated, but with variety; at some times having considerable consolation; and at others, more depressed. The next day, Monday, May 30, he set out on a journey to New Jersey, to consult the commissioners who employed him about the affairs of his mission.† He performed his journey thither in four days; and arrived at Mr. Burr's in Newark on Thursday. In great part of his journey, he was in the depths of melancholy, under distresses like those already mentioned. On Friday he rode to Elizabeth-town: and on Saturday to New York; and from thence on his way homewards as far as White Plains. There he spent the sabbath, and had considerable degrees of divine consolation and assistance in public services. On Monday he rode about sixty miles to New-Haven. There he attempted a reconciliation with the authority of the college; and spent this week in visiting his friends in those parts, and in his journey homewards, till Saturday, in a pretty comfortable frame of mind. On Saturday, in his way from Stockbridge to Kaunaumeek, he was lost in the woods, and lay all night in the open air; but happily found his way in the morning, and came to his Indians on Lord's day, June 12, and had greater assistance in preaching among them than ever before, since his first coming among them.
From this time forward he was the subject of various frames and exercises of mind: in the general, much after the same manner as hitherto, from his first coming to Kaunaumeek till he got into his own house, (a little hut, which he made chiefly with his own hands, by long and hard labour,) which was near seven weeks from this time. Great part of this space of time, he was dejected, and depressed with melancholy, sometimes extremely; his melancholy operating in like manner as related in times past. How it was with him in those dark seasons, he himself further describes in his diary for July 2, in the following manner. “My soul is, and has for a long time been, in a piteous condition, wading through a series of sorrows, of various kinds. I have been so crushed down sometimes with a sense of my meanness and infinite unworthiness, that I have been ashamed that any, even the meanest of my fellow-creatures, should so much as spend a thought about me; and have wished sometimes, while travelling among the thick brakes, to drop, as one of them, into everlasting oblivion. In this case, sometimes, I have almost resolved never again to see any of my acquaintance; and really thought I could not do it and hold up my face; and have longed for the remotest region, for a retreat from all my friends, that I might not be seen or heard of any more.--Sometimes the consideration of my ignorance has been a means of my great distress and anxiety. And especially my soul has been in anguish with fear, shame, and guilt, that ever I had preached, or had any thought that way.--Sometimes my soul has been in distress on feeling some particular corruptions rise and swell like a mighty torrent, with present violence; having, at the same time, ten thousand former sins and follies presented to view, in all their blackness and aggravations.--And these, while destitute of most of the conveniencies of life, and I may say, of all the pleasures of it; without a friend to communicate any of my sorrows to, and sometimes without any place of retirement, where I may unburden my soul before God, which has greatly contributed to my distress.--Of late, more especially, my great difficulty has been a sort of carelessness, a kind of regardless temper of mind, whence I have been disposed to indolence and trifling; and this temper of mind has constantly been attended with guilt and shame; so that sometimes I have been in a kind of horror, to find myself so unlike the blessed God. I have thought I grew worse under all my trials; and nothing has cut and wounded my soul more than this. Oh, if I am one of God's chosen, as I trust through infinite grace I am, I find of a truth, that the righteous are scarcely saved.”
It is apparent, that one main occasion of that distressing gloominess of mind which he was so much exercised with at Kaunaumeek, was reflection on his past errors and misguided zeal at college, in the beginning of the late religious commotions. And therefore he repeated his endeavours this year for reconciliation with the governors of the college, whom he had at that time offended. Although he had been at New Haven, in June, this year, and attempted a reconciliation, as mentioned already; yet, in the beginning of July, he made another journey thither, and renewed his attempt, but still in vain.
Although he was much dejected great part of that space of time which I am now speaking of; yet he had many intermissions of his melancholy, and some seasons of comfort, sweet tranquillity, and resignation of mind, and frequent special assistance in public services, as appear in his diary. The manner of his relief from his sorrow, once in particular, is worthy to be mentioned in his own words, (diary for July 25.) “Had little or no resolution for a life of holiness; was ready almost to renounce my hopes of living to God. And oh how dark it looked, to think of being unholy for ever! This I could not endure. The cry of my soul was, Psal. lxv. 3. ‘Iniquities prevail against me.' But was in some measure relieved by a comfortable meditation on God's eternity, that he never had a beginning, &c. Whence I was led to admire his greatness and power, &c. in such a manner, that I stood still, and praised the Lord for his own glories and perfections; though I was (and if I should for ever be) an unholy creature, my soul was comforted to apprehend an eternal, infinite, powerful, holy God.
* This person was Mr. Brainerd's interpreter; who was an ingenious young Indian belonging to Stockbridge, whose name was John Wauwaumpequunnaunt. He had been instructed in the christian religion by Mr. Sergeant; had lived with the Reverend Mr. Williams of Long Meadow; had been further instructed by him, at the charge of Mr. Hollis of London; and understood both English and Indian very well, and wrote a good hand.
† His business with the commissioners now was, to obtain orders from them to set up a school among the Indians at Kaunaumeek, and that his interpreter might be appointed the schoolmaster; which was accordingly done.
“Saturday, July 30. Just at night, moved into my own house, and lodged there that night; found it much better spending the time alone, than in the wigwam where I was before.
“Lord's day, July 31. Felt more comfortably than some days past.--Blessed be the Lord, who has now given me a place of retirement.--O that I might find God in it, and that he would dwell with me for ever!
“Monday, Aug. 1. Was still busy in further labours on my house.--Felt a little of the sweetness of religion, and thought it was worth the while to follow after God through a thousand snares, deserts, and death itself. O that I might always follow after holiness, that I may be fully conformed to God! Had some degree of sweetness, in secret prayer, though I had much sorrow.
“Tuesday, Aug. 2. Was still labouring to make myself more comfortable, with regard to my house and lodging. Laboured under spiritual anxiety; it seemed to me, I deserved to be kicked out of the world; yet found some comfort in committing my cause to God. It is good for me to be afflicted, that I may die wholly to this world, and all that is in it.
“Wednesday, Aug. 3. Spent most of the day in writing. Enjoyed some sense of religion. Through divine goodness I am now uninterruptedly alone; and find my retirement comfortable. I have enjoyed more sense of divine things within a few days last past, than for some time before. I longed after holiness, humility, and meekness: O that God would enable me to ‘pass the time of my sojourning here in his fear,' and always live to him!
“Thursday, Aug. 4. Was enabled to pray much, through the whole day; and through divine goodness found some intenseness of soul in the duty, as I used to do, and some ability to persevere in my supplications. I had some apprehensions of divine things, that were engaging, and which afforded me some courage and resolution. It is good, I find, to persevere in attempts to pray, if I cannot pray with perseverance, i.e. continue long in my addresses to the Divine Being. I have generally found, that the more I do in secret prayer, the more I have delighted to do, and have enjoyed more of a spirit of prayer: and frequently have found the contrary, when with journeying or otherwise I have been much deprived of retirement. A seasonable, steady performance of SECRET DUTIES IN THEIR PROPER HOURS, and a CAREFUL IMPROVEMENT OF ALL TIME, filling up every hour with some profitable labour, either of heart, head, or hands, are excellent means of spiritual peace and boldness before God. Christ, indeed, is our peace, and by him we have boldness of access to God; but a good conscience void of offence, is an excellent preparation for an approach into the divine presence. There is difference between self-confidence or a self-righteous pleasing of ourselves--as with our own duties, attainments, spiritual enjoyments--which godly souls sometimes are guilty of, and that holy confidence arising from the testimony of a good conscience, which good Hezekiah had, when he says, “Remember, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart.' ‘Then (says the holy psalmist) shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect to all thy commandments.' Filling up our time with and for God, is the way to rise up and lie down in peace.”
The next eight days he continued for the most part in a very comfortable frame, having his mind fixed and sweetly engaged in religion; and more than once blesses God, that he had given him a little cottage, where he might live alone, and enjoy a happy retirement, free from noise and disturbance, and could at any hour of the day lay aside all studies, and spend time in lifting up his soul to God for spiritual blessings.
“Saturday, Aug. 13. Was enabled in secret prayer to raise my soul to God, with desire and delight. It was indeed a blessed season to my soul: I found the comfort of being a Christian; and counted the sufferings of the present life not worthy to be compared with the glory of divine enjoyments even in this world. All my past sorrows seemed kindly to disappear, and I ‘remembered no more the sorrow, for joy.'--O, how kindly, and with a filial tenderness, the soul confides in the Rock of ages, at such a season, that be will ‘never leave it, nor forsake it,' that he will cause ‘all things to work together for its good!' &c. I longed that others should know how good a God the Lord is. My soul was full of tenderness and love, even to the most inveterate of my enemies. I longed they should share in the same mercy; and loved that God should do just as he pleased with me and every thing else. I felt exceeding serious, calm, and peaceful, and encouraged to press after holiness as long as I live, whatever difficulties and trials may be in my way. May the Lord always help me so to do! Amen, and Amen.
“Lord's day, Aug. 14. I had much more freedom in public than in private. God enabled me to speak with some feeling sense of divine things; but perceived no considerable effect.
“Monday, Aug. 15. Spent most of the day in labour, to procure something to keep my horse on in the winter.--Enjoyed not much sweetness in the morning: was very weak in body through the day, and thought this frail body would soon drop into the dust: had some very realizing apprehensions of a speedy entrance into another world. And in this weak state of body, I was not a little distressed for want of suitable food. I had no bread, nor could I get any. I am forced to go or send ten or fifteen miles for all the bread I eat; and sometimes it is mouldy and sour before I eat it, if I get any considerable quantity. And then again I have none for some days together, for want of an opportunity to send for it, an cannot find my horse in the woods to go myself; and this was my case now: but through divine goodness I had some Indian meal, of which I made little cakes, and fried them. Yet felt contented with my circumstances, and sweetly resigned to God. In prayer I enjoyed great freedom; and blessed God as much for my present circumstances, as if I had been a king; and thought I found a disposition to be contented in any circumstances. Blessed be God.”
The rest of this week he was exceeding weak in body, and much exercised with pain; yet obliged from day to day to labour hard, to procure fodder for his horse. Except some part of the time, he was so very ill, that he was neither able to work nor study; but speaks of longings after holiness and perfect conformity to God. He complains of enjoying but little of God; yet he says, that little was better to him than all the world besides. In his diary for Saturday, he says, he was somewhat melancholy and sorrowful in mind; and adds, “I never feel comfortably, but when I find my soul going forth after God: if I cannot be holy, I must necessarily be miserable for ever.”
“Lord's day, Aug. 21. Was much straitened in the forenoon-exercise; my thoughts seemed to be all scattered to the ends of the earth. At noon, I fell down before the Lord, groaned under my vileness, barrenness, and deadness; and felt as if I was guilty of soul-murder, in speaking to immortal souls in such a manner as I had then done.--In the afternoon, God was pleased to give me some assistance, and I was enabled to set before my hearers the nature and necessity of true repentance, &c. Afterwards, had some small degree of thankfulness. Was very ill and full of pain in the evening; and my soul mourned that I had spent so much time to so little profit.
“Monday, Aug. 22. Spent most of the day in study; and found my bodily strength in a measure restored. Had some intense and passionate breathings of soul after holiness, and very clear manifestations of my utter inability to procure, or work it in myself; it is wholly owing to the power of God. O, with what tenderness the love and desire of holiness fills the soul! I wanted to wing out of myself to God, or rather to get a conformity to him: but, alas! I cannot add to my stature in grace one cubit. However, my soul can never leave striving for it; or at least groaning that it cannot strive for it, and obtain more purity of heart.--At night I spent some time in instructing my poor people. Oh that God would pity their souls!
“Tuesday, Aug. 23. Studied in the forenoon, and enjoyed some freedom. In the afternoon, laboured abroad: endeavoured to pray; but found not much sweetness or intenseness of mind. Towards night, was very weary, and tired of this world of sorrow: the thoughts of death and immortality appeared very desirable, and even refreshed my soul. Those lines turned in my mind with pleasure,
‘Come, death, shake hands, I'll kiss thy bands:
‘Tis happiness for me to die.
What! dost thou think that I will shrink?
I'll go to immortality.'
In evening prayer God was pleased to draw near my soul, though very sinful and unworthy: was enabled to wrestle with God, and to persevere in my requests for grace. I poured out my soul for all the world, friends, and enemies. My soul was concerned, not so much for souls as such, but rather for Christ's kingdom, that it might appear in the world, that God might be known to be God in the whole earth. And, oh, my soul abhorred the very thought of a party in religion! Let the truth of God appear, wherever it is; and God have the glory for ever. Amen. This was indeed a comfortable season. I thought I had some small taste of, and real relish for, the enjoyments and employments of the upper world. O that my soul was more attempered to it!
“Wednesday, Aug. 24. Spent some time in the morning in study and prayer. Afterwards was engaged in some necessary business abroad. Towards night, found a little time for some particular studies. I thought if God should say, ‘Cease making any provision for this life, for you shall in a few days go out of time into eternity,' my soul would leap for joy. O that I may both I ‘desire to be dissolved, to be with Christ,' and likewise ‘wait patiently all the days of my appointed time till my change come!'--But, alas! I am very unfit for the business and blessedness of heaven.--O for more holiness!
“Thursday, Aug. 25. Part of the day, was engaged in studies; and part in labour abroad. I find it is impossible to enjoy peace and tranquillity of mind without a careful improvement of time. This is really an imitation of God and Christ Jesus: ‘My Father worketh hitherto, and I work,' says our Lord. But still, if we would be like God we must see that we fill up our time for him.--I daily long to dwell in perfect light and love. In the mean time, my soul mourns that I make so little progress in grace, and preparation for the world of blessedness: I see and know that I am a very barren tree in God's vineyard, and that he might justly say, ‘Cut it down,' &c. O that God would make me more lively and vigorous in grace, for his own glory! Amen.”
The two next days he was much engaged in some necessary labours, in which he extremely spent himself. He seems these days to have had a great sense of the vanity of the world, continued longings after holiness, and more fervency of spirit in the service of God.
“Lord's day, Aug. 28. Was much perplexed with some irreligious Dutchmen. All their discourse turned upon the things of the world; which was no small exercise to my mind. Oh, what a hell it would be to spend an eternity with such men! Well might David say, ‘I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved.'--But adored be God, heaven is a place into which no unclean thing enters.'--Oh, I long for the holiness of that world! Lord, prepare me for it.'”
The next day he set out on a journey to New York. Was somewhat dejected the two first days of his journey; but yet seems to have enjoyed some degrees of the sensible presence of God.
“Wednesday, Aug. 31. Rode down to Bethlehem: was in a sweet, serious, and, I hope, christian frame, when I came there. Eternal things engrossed all my thoughts; and I longed to be in the world of spirits. O how happy is it to have all our thoughts swallowed up in that world; to feel one's self a serious considerate stranger in this world, diligently seeking a road through it, the best, the sure road to the heavenly Jerusalem!
“Thursday, Sept. 1. Rode to Danbury. Was more dull and dejected in spirit than yesterday. Indeed, I always feet comfortably when God realizes death, and the things of this world, to my mind: whenever my mind is taken off from the things of this world, and set on God, my soul is then at rest.”
He went forward on his journey, and came to New York on the next Monday. And after tarrying there two or three days, he set out from the city towards New-Haven, intending to be there at the commencement; and on Friday came to Horse-Neck. In the mean time, he complains much of dulness, and want of fervour in religion: but yet, from time to time, speaks of his enjoying spiritual warmth and sweetness in conversation with christian friends, assistance in public services, &c.
“Saturday, Sept. 10. Rode six miles to Stanwich, and preached to a considerable assembly of people. Had some assistance and freedom, especially towards the close. Endeavoured much afterwards, in private conversation, to establish holiness, humility, meekness, &c. as the essence of true religion; and to moderate some noisy sort of persons, that appeared to me to be acted by unseen spiritual pride. Alas, what extremes men incline to run into!--Returned to Horse-Neck, and felt some seriousness and sweet solemnity in the evening.
“Lord's day, Sept. 11. In the afternoon I preached from Tit. iii. 8. ‘This is a faithful saying, and these things,' &c. I think God never helped me more in painting true religion, and in detecting clearly, and tenderly discountenancing, false appearances of religion, wild-fire party zeal, spiritual pride, &c. as well as a confident dogmatical spirit, and its spring, viz. ignorance of the heart.--In the evening took much pains in private conversation to suppress some confusions, that I perceived were amongst that people.
“Monday, Sept. 12. Rode to Mr. Mills's at Ripton. Had some perplexing hours; but was some part of the day very comfortable. It is ‘through great trials,' I see, ‘that we must enter the gates of paradise.' If my soul could but be holy, that God might not be dishonoured, methinks I could bear sorrows.
“Tuesday, Sept. 13. Rode to New-Haven. Was sometimes dejected; not in the sweetest frame. Lodged at ****. Had some profitable christian conversation, &c.--I find, though my inward trials were great, and a life of solitude gives them greater advantage to settle, and penetrate to the very inmost recesses of the soul; yet it is better to be alone, than encumbered with noise and tumult. I find it very difficult maintaining any sense of divine things while removing from place to place, diverted with new objects, and filled with care and business. A settled steady business is best adapted to a life of strict religion.
“Wednesday, Sept. 14. This day I ought to have taken my degree;* but God sees fit to deny it me. And though I was greatly afraid of being overwhelmed with perplexity and confusion, when I should see my class-mates take theirs; yet, at the very time, God enabled me with calmness and resignation to say, ‘The will of the Lord be done.' Indeed, through divine goodness, I have scarcely felt my mind so calm, sedate, and comfortable for some time. I have long feared this season, and expected my humility, meekness, patience, and resignation would be much tried:† but found much more pleasure and divine comfort than I expected.--Felt spiritually serious, tender, and affectionate in private prayer with a dear christian friend to-day.
“Thursday, Sept. 15. Had some satisfaction in hearing the ministers discourse, &c. It is always a comfort to me, to hear religious and spiritual discourse. O that ministers and people were more spiritual and devoted to God!--Towards night, with the advice of christian friends, I offered the following reflections in writing, to the rector and trustees of the college--which are for substance the same that I had freely offered to the rector before, and entreated him to accept--that if possible I might cut off all occasion of offence, from those who seek occasion. What I offered, is as follows:
* This being commencement day.
† His trial was the greater, in that, had it not been for the displeasure of the governors of the college, he would not only on that day have shared with his class-mates in the public honours which they then received, but would on that occasion have appeared at the head of that class: which, if he had been with them, would have been the most numerous of any that ever had been graduated at that college.
“Whereas I have said before several persons, concerning Mr. Whittelsey, one of the tutors of Yale college, that I did not believe he had any more grace than the chair I then leaned upon: I humbly confess, that herein I have sinned against God, and acted contrary to the rules of his word, and have injured Mr. Whittelsey. I had no right to make thus free with his character; and had no just reason to say as I did concerning him. My fault herein was the more aggravated, in that I said this concerning one that was so much my superior, and one that I was obliged to treat with special respect and honour, by reason of the relation I stood in to him in the college. Such a manner of behaviour, I confess, did not become a Christian; it was taking too much upon me, and did not savour of that humble respect that I ought to have expressed towards Mr. Whittelsey. I have long since been convinced of the falseness of those apprehensions, by which I then justified such a conduct. I have often reflected on this act with grief; I hope, on account of the sin of it: and am willing to lie low, and be abased before God and man for it. And humbly ask the forgiveness of the governors of the college, and of the whole society; but of Mr. Whittelsey in particular. And whereas I have been accused by one person of saying concerning the reverend rector of Yale college, that I wondered he did not expect to drop down dead for fining the scholars that followed Mr. Tennent to Milford; I seriously profess, that I do not remember my saying any thing to this purpose. But if I did, which I am not certain I did not, I utterly condemn it, and detest all such kind of behaviour; any especially in an undergraduate towards the rector. And I now appear, to judge and condemn myself for going once to the separate meeting in New-Haven, a little before I was expelled, though the rector had refused to give me leave. For this I humbly ask the rector's forgiveness. And whether the governors of the college shall ever see cause to remove the academical censure I lie under, or no, or to admit me to the privileges I desire; yet I am willing to appear, if they think fit, openly to own, and to humble myself for, those things I have herein confessed.”
“God has made me willing to do any thing that I can do, consistent with truth, for the sake of peace, and that I might not be a stumbling-block to others. For this reason I can cheerfully forego, and give up, what I verily believe, after the most mature and impartial search, is my right, in some instances. God has given me that disposition, that, if this were the case, that a man has done me a hundred injuries, and I (though ever so much provoked to it) have done him one, I feel disposed, and heartily willing, humbly to confess my fault to him, and on my knees to ask forgiveness of him; though at the same time he should justify himself in all the injuries he has done me, and should only make use of my humble confession to blacken my character the more, and represent me as the only person guilty, &c. yea, though he should as it were insult me, and say, ‘he knew all this before, and that I was making work for repentance,' &c. Though what I said concerning Mr. Whittelsey was only spoken in private, to a friend or two; and being partly overheard, was related to the rector, and by him extorted from my friends; yet, seeing it was divulged made public, I was willing to confess my fault therein publicly.--But I trust God will plead my cause.”*
The next day he went to Derby; then to Southbury where he spent the sabbath: and speaks of some spiritual comfort; but complains much of unfixedness, and wanderings of mind in religion.
“Monday, Sept. 19. In the afternoon rode to Bethlehem, and there preached. Had some measure of assistance, both in prayer and preaching. I felt serious, kind, and tender towards all mankind, and longed that holiness might flourish more on earth.
“Tuesday, Sept. 20. Had thoughts of going forward on my journey to my Indians; but towards night was taken with a hard pain in my teeth, and shivering cold; and could not possibly recover a comfortable degree of warmth the whole night following. I continued very full of pain all night; and in the morning had a very hard fever, and pains almost over my whole body. I had a sense of the divine goodness in appointing this to be the place of my sickness, viz. among my friends, who were very kind to me. I should probably have perished, if I had first got home to my own house in the wilderness, where I have none to converse with but the poor, rude, ignorant Indians. Here I saw was mercy in the midst of affliction. I continued thus, mostly confined to my bed, till Friday night; very full of pain most of the time; but through divine goodness not afraid of death. Then the extreme folly of those appeared to me, who put off their turning to God till a sick-bed. Surely this is not a time proper to prepare for eternity.--On Friday evening my pains went off somewhat suddenly, I was exceeding weak, and almost fainted; but was very comfortable the night following. These words, Psal. cxviii. 17. ‘I shall not die, but live,' &c. I frequently revolved in my mind; and thought we were to prize the continuation of life only on this account, that we may ‘show forth God's goodness and works of grace.'”
From this time he gradually recovered; and on the next Tuesday was so well as to be able to go forward on his journey homewards; but it was not till the Tuesday following that he reached Kaunaumeek. And seems, great part of this time, to have had a very deep and lively sense of the vanity and emptiness of all things here below, and of the reality, nearness, and vast importance of eternal things.
“Tuesday, Oct. 4. This day rode home to my own house and people. The poor Indians appeared very glad of my return. Found my house and all things in safety. I presently fell on my knees, and blessed God for my safe return, after a long and tedious journey, and a season of sickness in several places where I had been, and after I had been ill myself. God has renewed his kindness to me, in preserving me one journey more. I have taken many considerable journeys since this time last year, and yet God has never suffered one of my bones to be broken, or any distressing calamity to befall me, excepting the ill turn I had in my last journey. I have been often exposed to cold and hunger in the wilderness, where the comforts of life were not to be had; have frequently been lost in the woods; and sometimes obliged to ride much of the night; and once lay out in the woods all night; yet, blessed be God, he has preserved me!”
In his diary for the next eleven days, are great complaints of distance from God, spiritual pride, corruption, and exceeding vileness. He once says, his heart was so pressed with a sense of his pollution, that he could scarcely have the face and impudence (as it then appeared to him) to desire that God should not damn him for ever. And at another time, he says, he had so little sense of God, or apprehension and relish of his glory and excellency, that it made him more disposed to kindness and tenderness towards those who are blind and ignorant of God and things divine and heavenly.
“Lord's day, Oct. 16. In the evening, God was pleased to give me a feeling sense of my own unworthiness; but through divine goodness such as tended to draw me to, rather than drive me from, God; it filled me with solemnity. I retired alone, (having at this time a friend with me,) and poured out my soul to God with much freedom; and yet in anguish, to find myself so unspeakably sinful and unworthy before a holy God. Was now much resigned under God's dispensations towards me, though my trials had been very great. But thought whether I could be resigned, if God should let the French Indians come upon me, and deprive me of life, or carry me away captive, (though I knew of no special reason then to propose this trial to myself, more than any other,) and my soul seemed so far to rest and acquiesce in God, that the sting and terror of these things seemed in a great measure gone. Presently after I came to the Indians, whom I was teaching to sing psalm-tunes that evening, I received the following letter from Stockbridge, by a messenger sent on the sabbath on purpose, which made it appear of greater importance.
* I was witness to the very christian spirit Mr. Brainerd showed at that time, being then at New-Haven, and one that he thought fit to consult on that occasion. This was the first time that ever I had an opportunity of personal acquaintance with him. There truly appeared in him a great degree of calmness and humility: without the least appearance of rising of spirit for any ill treatment he supposed he had suffered, or the least backwardness to abase himself before them, who, as he thought, had wronged him. What he did was without any objection or appearance of reluctance, even in private to his friends, to whom he freely opened himself. Earnest application was made on his behalf to the authority of the college, that he might have his degree then given him: and particularly by the Rev. Mr. Burr of Newark, one of the correspondents of the honourable society in Scotland; he being sent from New Jersey to New-Haven, by the rest of the commissioners for that end: and many arguments were used, but without success. Indeed the governors of the college were so far satisfied with the reflections Mr. Brainerd had made on himself, that they appeared willing to admit him again into college; but not to give him his degree, till he should have remained there at least twelve mouths, which being contrary to what the correspondents, to whom he was now engaged, had declared to be their mind, he did not consent to it. He desired his degree, as he thought it would tend to his being more extensively useful; but still when he was denied it, he manifested no disappointment or resentment.
‘Sir, Just now we received advices from Col. Stoddard, that there is the utmost danger of a rupture with France. He has received the same from his excellency our governor, ordering him to give notice to all the exposed places, that they may secure themselves the best they can against any sudden invasion. We thought best to send directly to Kaunaumeek, that you may take the prudentest measures for your safety that dwell there. I am, Sir, &c.'
“I thought, upon reading the contents, it came in a good season; for my heart seemed fixed on God, and therefore I was not much surprised. This news only made me more serious, and taught me that I must not please myself with any of the comforts of life which I had been preparing. Blessed be God, who gave me any intenseness and fervency this evening!
“Monday, Oct. 17. Had some rising hopes, that ‘God would arise and have mercy on Zion speedily.' My heart is indeed refreshed, when I have any prevailing hopes of Zion's prosperity. O that I may see the glorious day, when Zion shall become the joy of the whole earth! Truly there is nothing that I greatly value in this lower world.”
On Tuesday he rode to Stockbridge; complains of being much diverted, and having but little life. On Wednesday he expresses some solemn sense of divine things, and longing to be always doing for God with a godly frame of spirit.
“Thursday, Oct. 20. Had but little sense of divine things this day. Alas, that so much of my precious time is spent with so little of God! Those are tedious days, wherein I have no spirituality.
“Friday, Oct. 21. Returned home to Kaunaumeek: was glad to get alone in my little cottage, and to cry to that God who seeth in secret, and is present in a wilderness.
“Saturday, Oct. 22. Had but little sensible communion with God. This world is a dark, cloudy mansion. Oh, when will the Sun of righteousness shine on my soul without intermission!
“Lord's day, Oct. 23. In the morning I had a little dawn of comfort arising from hopes of seeing glorious days in the church of God: was enabled to pray for such a glorious day with some courage and strength of hope. In the forenoon treated on the glories of heaven, &c.--In the afternoon, on the miseries of hell, and the danger of going there. Had some freedom and warmth, both parts of the day. And my people were very attentive. In the evening two or three came to me under concern for their souls; to whom I was enabled to discourse closely, and with some earnestness and desire. O that God would be merciful to their poor souls!”
He seems, through the whole of this week, to have been greatly engaged to fill up every inch of time in the service of God, and to have been most diligently employed in study, prayer, and instructing the Indians; and from time to time expresses longings of soul after God, and the advancement of his kingdom, and spiritual comfort and refreshment.
“Lord's day, Oct. 30. In the morning I enjoyed some fixedness of soul in prayer, which was indeed sweet and desirable; was enabled to leave myself with God, and to acquiesce in him. At noon my soul was refreshed with reading Rev. iii. more especially the 11th and 12th verses. Oh, my soul longed for that blessed day, when I should ‘dwell in the temple of God,' and ‘go no more out' of his immediate presence!
“Monday, Oct. 31. Rode to Kinderhook, about fifteen miles from my place. While riding I felt some divine sweetness in the thoughts of being ‘a pillar in the temple of God' in the upper world, and being no more deprived of his blessed presence, and the sense of his favour, which is better than life. My soul was so lifted up to God, that I could pour out my desires to him, for more grace and further degrees of sanctification, with abundant freedom. Oh, I longed to be more abundantly prepared for that blessedness, with which I was then in some measure refreshed!--Returned home in the evening; but took an extremely bad cold by riding in the night.
“Tuesday, Nov. 1. Was very much disordered in body, and sometimes full of pain in my face and teeth; was not able to study much, and had not much spiritual comfort. Alas! when God is withdrawn, all is gone.--Had some sweet thoughts, which I could not but write down, on the design, nature, and end of Christianity.
“Wednesday, Nov. 2. Was still more indisposed in body, and in much pain most of the day. I had not much comfort; was scarcely able to study at all; and still entirely alone in the wilderness. But blessed be the Lord, I am not exposed in the open air; I have a house, and many of the comforts of life to support me. I have learned in a measure, that all good things relating both to time and eternity come from God.--In the evening I had some degree of quickening in prayer: I think God gave me some sense of his presence.
“Thursday, Nov. 3. Spent this day in secret fasting and prayer, from morning till night. Early in the morning I had some small degree of assistance in prayer. Afterwards read the story of Elijah the prophet, 1 Kings, xvii. xviii. and xix. chapters, and also 2 Kings, ii. and iv. chapters. My soul was much moved, observing the faith, zeal, and power of that holy man; how he wrestled with God in prayer, &c. My soul then cried with Elisha, ‘Where is the Lord God of Elijah!' Oh, I longed for more faith! My soul breathed after God, and pleaded with him, that a ‘double portion of that spirit,' which was given to Elijah, might ‘rest on me.' And that which was divinely refreshing and strengthening to my soul was, I saw that God is the same that he was in the days of Elijah.--Was enabled to wrestle with God by prayer, in a more affectionate, fervent, humble, intense, and importunate manner, than I have for many months past. Nothing seemed too hard for God to perform; nothing too great for me to hope for from him.--I had for many months entirely lost all hopes of being made instrumental of doing any special service for God in the world; it has appeared entirely impossible, that one so black and vile should be thus employed for God. But at this time God was pleased to revive this hope.--Afterwards read the 3rd chapter of Exodus and on to the 20th, and saw more of the glory and majesty of God discovered in those chapters, than ever I had seen before; frequently in the mean time falling on my knees, and crying to God for the faith of Moses, and for a manifestation of the divine glory. Especially the 3rd and 4th, and part of the 14th and 15th chapters, were unspeakably sweet to my soul: my soul blessed God, that he had shown himself so gracious to his servants of old. The 15th chapter seemed to be the very language which my soul uttered to God in the season of my first spiritual comfort, when I had just got through the Red sea, by a way that I had no expectation of. O how my soul then rejoiced in God! And now those things came fresh and lively to my mind; now my soul blessed God afresh, that he had opened that unthought-of way to deliver me from the fear of the Egyptians, when I almost despaired of life.--Afterwards read the story of Abraham's pilgrimage in the land of Canaan: my soul was melted, in observing his faith, how he leaned on God; how he communed with God, and what a stranger he was here in the world. After that, read the story of Joseph's sufferings, and God's goodness to him: blessed God for these examples of faith and patience. My soul was ardent in prayer, was enabled to wrestle ardently for myself, for christian friends, and for the church of God. And felt more desire to see the power of God in the conversion of souls, than I have done for a long season. Blessed be God for this season of fasting and prayer! May his goodness always abide with me, and draw my soul to him!
“Thursday, Nov. 4. Rode to Kinderhook: went quite to Hudson's river, about twenty miles from my house; performed some business, and returned home in the evening to my own house. I had rather ride hard and fatigue myself, to get home, than to spend the evening and night amongst those who have no regard for God.”
The two next days he was very ill, and full of pain, probably through his riding in the night after a fatiguing day's journey on Thursday; but yet seems to have been diligent in business.
“Monday, Nov. 7. This morning the Lord afforded me some special assistance in prayer; my mind was solemn, fixed, affectionate, and ardent in desires after holiness; felt full of tenderness and love; and my affections seemed to be dissolved into kindness. In the evening I enjoyed the same comfortable assistance in prayer as in the morning: my soul longed after God, and cried to him with a filial freedom, reverence, and boldness. O that I might be entirely consecrated and devoted to God.”
The two next days he complains of bodily illness and pain; but much more of spiritual barrenness and unprofitableness.
“Thursday, Nov. 10. Spent this day in fasting and prayer alone. In the morning was very dull and lifeless, melancholy and discouraged. But after some time, while reading 2 Kings xix. my soul was moved and affected; especially reading verse 14, and onward. I saw there was no other way for the afflicted children of God to take, but to go to God with all their sorrows. Hezekiah, in his great distress, went and spread his complaint before the Lord. I was then enabled to see the mighty power of God, and my extreme need of that power; was enabled to cry to him affectionately and ardently for his power and grace to be exercised towards me.--Afterwards read the story of David's trials, and observed the course he took under them, how he strengthened his hands in God; whereby my soul was carried out after God, enabled to cry to him, and rely upon him, and felt strong in the Lord. Was afterwards refreshed, observing the blessed temper that was wrought in David by his trials: all bitterness and desire of revenge seemed wholly taken away; so that he mourned for the death of his enemies; 2 Sam. i. 17. and iv. 9, ad fin.--Was enabled to bless God, that he had given me something of this divine temper, that my soul freely forgives and heartily loves my enemies.”
It appears by his diary for the remaining part of this week, and for the two following week, that great part of the time he was very ill, and full of pain; and yet obliged, through his circumstances, in this ill state of body, to be at great fatigues, in labour, and travelling day and night, and to expose himself in stormy and severe seasons. He from time to time, within this space, speaks of outgoings of soul after God; his heart strengthened in God; seasons of divine sweetness and comfort; his heart affected with gratitude for mercies, &c. And yet there are many complaints of lifelessness, weakness of grace, distance from God, and great unprofitableness. But still there appear a constant care from day to day, not to lose time, but to improve it all for God.
“Lord's day, Nov. 27. In the evening I was greatly affected in reading an account of the very joyful death of a pious gentleman; which seemed to invigorate my soul in God's ways. I felt courageously engaged to pursue a life of holiness and self-denial as long as I live; and poured out my soul to God for his help and assistance in order thereto. Eternity then seemed near, and my soul rejoiced, and longed to meet it. I trust that will be a blessed day that finishes my toil here.
“Monday, Nov. 28. In the evening I was obliged to spend time in company and conversation that was unprofitable.--Nothing lies heavier upon me, than the misimprovement of time.
“Tuesday, Nov. 29. Began to study the Indian tongue with Mr. Sergeant at Stockbridge.*--Was perplexed for want of more retirement.--I love to live alone in my own little cottage, where I can spend much time in prayer, &c.
“Wednesday, Nov. 30. Pursued my study of Indian: but was very weak and disordered in body, and was troubled in mind at the barrenness of the day, that I had done so little for God. I had some enlargement in prayer at night. Oh, a barn, or stable, hedge, or any other place, is truly desirable, if God is there! Sometimes, of late, my hopes of Zion's prosperity are more raised than they were in the summer. My soul seems to confide in God, that he will yet ‘show forth his salvation' to his people, and make Zion ‘the joy of the whole earth. O how excellent is the loving-kindness of the Lord!' My soul sometimes inwardly exults at the lively thoughts of what God has already done for his church, and what “mine eyes have seen of the salvation of God.” It is sweet, to hear nothing but spiritual discourse from God's children; and sinners ‘inquiring the way to Zion,' saying, ‘What shall we do?' &c. O that I may see more of this blessed work!
“Thursday, Dec. 1. Both morning and evening I enjoyed some intenseness of soul in prayer, and longed for the enlargement of Christ's kingdom in the world. My soul seems, of late, to wait on God for his blessing on Zion. O that religion might powerfully revive!
“Friday, Dec. 2. Enjoyed not so much health of body, or fervour of mind, as yesterday. If the chariot-wheels move with ease and speed at any time, for a short space, yet by and by they drive heavily again. ‘O that I had the wings of a dove, that I might fly away' from sin and corruption, and be at rest in God!
“Saturday, Dec. 3. Rode home to my house and people. Suffered much with the extreme cold.--I trust I shall ere long arrive safe at my journey's end, where my toils shall cease.
“Lord's day, Dec. 4. Had but little sense of divine and heavenly things. My soul mourns over my barrenness. Oh how sad is spiritual deadness!
“Monday, Dec. 5. Rode to Stockbridge. Was almost outdone with the extreme cold. Had some refreshing meditations by the way; but was barren, wandering, and lifeless, much of the day. Thus my days roll away, with but little done for God; and this is my burden.
“Tuesday, Dec. 6. Was perplexed to see the vanity and levity of professed Christians. Spent the evening with a christian friend, who was able in some measure to sympathize with me in my spiritual conflicts. Was a little refreshed to find one with whom I could converse of inward trials, &c.
“Wednesday, Dec. 7. Spent the evening in perplexity, with a kind of guilty indolence. When I have no heart or resolution for God, and the duties incumbent on me, I feel guilty of negligence and misimprovement of time. Certainly I ought to be engaged in my work and business, to the utmost extent of my strength and ability.
“Thursday, Dec. 8. My mind was much distracted with different affections. I seemed to be at an amazing distance from God; and looking round in the world, to see if there was not some happiness to be derived from it. God, and certain objects in the world, seemed each to invite my heart and affections; and my soul seemed to be distracted between them. I have not been so much beset with the world for a long time; and that with relation to some particular objects which I thought myself most dead to. But even while I was desiring to please myself with any thing below, guilt, sorrow, and perplexity attended the first motions of desire. Indeed I cannot see the appearance of pleasure and happiness in the world, as I used to do: and blessed be God for any habitual deadness to the world.--I found no peace, or deliverance from this distraction and perplexity of mind, till I found access to the throne of grace: and as soon as I had any sense of God, and things divine, the allurements of the world vanished, and my heart was determined for God. But my soul mourned over my folly, that I should desire any pleasure, but only in God. God forgive my spiritual idolatry!”
* The commissioners who employed him, had directed him to spend much time this winter with Mr. Sergeant, to learn the language of the Indians; which necessitated him very often to ride, backwards and forwards, twenty miles through the uninhabited woods between Stockbridge and Kaunaumeek; which many times exposed him to extreme hardship in the severe seasons of the winter.
The next thirteen days he appears to have been continually in deep concern about the improvement of precious time; and there are many expressions of grief, that he improved time no better; such as, “Oh, what misery do I feel, when “my thoughts rove after vanity! I should be happy if always engaged for God! O wretched man that I am!” &c. Speaks of his being pained with a sense of his barrenness, perplexed with his wanderings, longing for deliverance from the being of sin, mourning that time passed away, and so little was done for God, &c.--On Tuesday, December 20, he speaks of his being visited at Kaunaumeek by some under spiritual concern.
“Thursday, Dec. 22. Spent this day alone in fasting and prayer, and reading in God's word the exercises and deliverances of his children. Had, I trust, some exercise of faith, and realizing apprehension of divine power, grace, and holiness; and also of the unchangeable of God, that he is the same as when he delivered his saints of old out of great tribulation. My soul was sundry times in prayer enlarged for God's church and people. O that Zion might become the ‘joy of the whole earth!' It is better to wait upon God with patience, than to put confidence in any thing in this lower world. ‘My soul, wait thou on the Lord;' for ‘from him comes thy salvation.'
“Friday, Dec. 23. Felt a little more courage and resolution in religion, than at some other times.
“Saturday, Dec. 24. Had some assistance and longing desires after sanctification in prayer this day; especially in the evening: was sensible of my own weakness and spiritual impotency; saw plainly I should fall into sin, if God of his abundant mercy did not ‘uphold in soul, and withhold me from evil.' O that God would ‘uphold me by his free Spirit, and save me from the hour of temptation.'
“Lord's day, Dec. 25. Prayed much, in the morning, with a feeling sense of my own spiritual weakness and insufficiency for any duty. God gave me some assistance in preaching to the Indians; and especially in the afternoon, when I was enabled to speak will uncommon plainness, freedom, and earnestness. Blessed be God for any assistance granted to one so unworthy. Afterwards felt some thankfulness; but still sensible of barrenness.--Spent some time in the evening with one or two persons under spiritual concern, and exhorting others to their duty, &c.
“Monday, Dec. 26. Rode down to Stockbridge. Was very much fatigued with my journey, wherein I underwent great hardships: was much exposed and very wet by falling into a river. Spent the day and evening without much sense of divine and heavenly things; but felt guilty, grieved, and perplexed with wandering careless thoughts.
“Tuesday, Dec. 27. Had a small degree of warmth in secret prayer, in the evening; but, alas! had but little spiritual life, and consequently but little comfort. Oh, the pressure of a body of death!*
“Wednesday, Dec. 28. Rode about six miles to the ordination of Mr. Hopkins. At the solemnity I was somewhat affected with a sense of the greatness and importance of the work of a minister of Christ. Afterwards was grieved to see the vanity of the multitude. In the evening spent a little time with some christian friends, with some degree of satisfaction; but most of the time I had rather have been alone.
“Thursday, Dec. 29. Spent the day mainly in conversing with friends; yet enjoyed little satisfaction, because I could find but few disposed to converse of divine and heavenly things. Alas, what are the things of this world, to afford satisfaction to the soul!--Near night returned to Stockbridge; in secret, I blessed God for retirement, and that I am not always exposed to the company and conversation of the world. O that I could live ‘in the secret of God's presence!'
“Friday, Dec. 30. Was in a solemn devout frame in the evening. Wondered that earth, with all its charms, should ever allure me in the least degree. O that I could always realize the being and holiness of God!
“Saturday, Dec. 31. Rode from Stockbridge home to my house: the air was clear and calm, but as cold as ever I felt it, or near. I was in great danger of perishing by the extremity of the season.--Was enabled to meditate much on the road.
“Lord's day, Jan. 1, 1744. In the morning had some small degree of assistance in prayer. Saw myself so vile and unworthy, that I could not look my people in the face, when I came to preach. Oh my meanness, folly, ignorance, and inward pollution!--In the evening had a little assistance in prayer, so that the duty was delightful, rather than burdensome. Reflected on the goodness of God to me in the past year, &c. Of a truth God has been kind and gracious to me, though he has caused me to pass through many sorrows; he has provided for me bountifully, so that I have been enabled, in about fifteen months past, to bestow to charitable uses about a hundred pounds New England money, that I can now remember.† Blessed be the Lord, that has so far used me as his steward, to distribute a portion of his goods. May I always remember, that all I have comes from God. Blessed be the Lord, that has carried me through all the toils, fatigues, and hardships of the year past, as well as the spiritual sorrows and conflicts that have attended it. O that I could begin this year with God, and spend the whole of it to his glory, either in life or death!
“Monday, Jan. 2. Had some affecting sense of my own impotency and spiritual weakness.--It is nothing but the power of God that keeps me from all manner of wickedness. I see I am nothing, and can do nothing without help from above. Oh, for divine grace! In the evening, had some ardour of soul in prayer, and longing desires to have God for my guide and safeguard at all times.‡
“Tuesday, Jan. 3. Was employed much of the day in writing; and spent some time in other necessary employment. But my time passes away so swiftly, that I am astonished when I reflect on it, and see how little I do. My state of solitude does not make the hours hang heavy upon my hands. O what reason of thankfulness have I on account of this retirement! I find that I do not, and it seems I cannot, lead a christian life when I am abroad, and cannot spend time in devotion, christian conversation, and serious meditation, as I should do. Those weeks that I am obliged now to be from home, in order to learn the Indian tongue, are mostly spent in perplexity and barrenness, without much sweet relish of divine things; and I feel myself a stranger at the throne of grace, for want of more frequent and continued retirement. When I return home, and give myself to meditation, prayer, and fasting, a new scene opens to my mind, and my soul longs for mortification, self-denial, humility, and divorcement from all the things of the world. This evening my heart was somewhat warm and fervent in prayer and meditation, so that I was loth to indulge sleep. Continued in those duties till about midnight.
“Wednesday, Jan. 4. Was in a resigned and mortified temper of mind, much of the day. Time appeared a moment, life a vapour, and all its enjoyments as empty bubbles, and fleeting blasts of wind.
“Thursday, Jan. 5. Had an humbling and pressing sense of my unworthiness. My sense of the badness of my own heart filled my soul with bitterness and anguish; which was ready to sink, as under the weight of a heavy burden. Thus I spent the evening, till late.--Was somewhat intense and ardent in prayer.
“Friday, Jan. 6. Feeling and considering my extreme weakness, and want of grace, the pollution of my soul, and danger of temptations on every side, I set apart this day for fasting and prayer, neither eating nor drinking from evening to evening, beseeching God to have mercy on me. My soul intensely longed, that the dreadful spots and stains of sin might be washed away from it. Saw something of the power and all-sufficiency of God. My soul seemed to rest on his power and grace; longed for resignation to his will, and mortification to all things here below. My mind was greatly fixed on divine things: my resolutions for a life of mortification, continual watchfulness, self-denial, seriousness, and devotion, were strong and fixed; my desires ardent and intense; my conscience tender, and afraid of every appearance of evil. My soul grieved with reflection on past levity, and want of resolution for God. I solemnly renewed my dedication of myself to God, and longed for grace to enable me always to keep covenant with him. Time appeared very short, eternity near; and a great name, either in or after life, together with all earthly pleasures and profits, but an empty bubble, a deluding dream.
* This day he wrote the second letter among his Remains.
† Which was, I suppose, to the value of about one hundred and eighty-five pounds in our bills of the old tenor, as they now pass. By this, as well as many other things, it is manifest, that his frequent melancholy did not arise from the consideration of any disadvantage he was laid under to get a living in the world, by his expulsion from the college.
‡ This day he wrote the third letter among his Remains.
“Saturday, Jan. 7. Spent this day in seriousness, with stedfast resolutions for God and a life of mortification. Studied closely, till I felt my bodily strength fail. Felt some degree of resignation to God, with an acquiescence in his dispensations. Was grieved that I could do so little for God before my bodily strength failed.--In the evening, though tired, was enabled to continue instant in prayer for some time. Spent the time in reading, meditation, and prayer, till the evening was far spent: was grieved to think that I could not watch unto prayer the whole night.--But blessed be God, heaven is a place of continual and incessant devotion, though the earth is dull.”
The six days following he continued in the same happy frame of mind; enjoyed the same composure, calmness, resignation, ardent desire, and sweet fervency of spirit, in a high degree, every day, not one excepted. Thursday, this week, he kept as a day of secret fasting and prayer.
“Saturday, Jan. 14. This morning enjoyed a most solemn season in prayer: my soul seemed enlarged, and assisted to pour out itself to God for grace, and for every blessing I wanted, for myself, my dear christian friends, and for the church of God; and was so enabled to see him who is invisible, that my soul rested upon him for the performance of every thing I asked agreeable to his will. It was then my happiness, to ‘continue instant in prayer,' and was enabled to continue in it for nearly an hour. My soul was then ‘strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.' Longed exceedingly for angelic holiness and purity, and to have all my thoughts, at all times, employed in divine and heavenly things. O how blessed is a heavenly temper! O how unspeakably blessed it is, to feel a measure of that rectitude, in which we were at first created!--Felt the same divine assistance in prayer sundry times in the day. My soul confided in God for myself, and for his Zion; trusted in divine power and grace, that he would do glorious things in his church on earth, for his own glory.”
The next day he speaks of some glimpses he had of the divine glories, and of his being enabled to maintain his resolutions in some measure; but complains, that he could not draw near to God. He seems to be filled with trembling fears lest he should return to a life of vanity, to please himself with some of the enjoyments of this lower world; and speaks of his being much troubled, and feeling guilty, that he should address immortal souls with no more ardency and desire of their salvation.--On Monday he rode down to Stockbridge, when he was distressed with the extreme cold; but notwithstanding, his mind was in a devout and solemn frame in his journey. The four next days he was very ill, probably from the cold in his journey; yet he spent the time in a solemn manner. On Friday evening he visited Mr. Hopkins; and on Saturday rode eighteen miles to Solsbury, where he kept the sabbath, and enjoyed considerable degrees of God's gracious presence, assistance in duty, and divine comfort and refreshment, longing to give himself wholly to God, to be his for ever.
“Monday, Jan. 23. I think I never felt more resigned to God, nor so much dead to the world, in every respect, as now; was dead to all desire of reputation and greatness, either in life, or after death; all I longed for, was to be holy, humble, crucified to the world, &c.
“Tuesday, Jan. 24. Near noon, rode over to Canaan. In the evening I was unexpectedly visited by a considerable number of people, with whom I was enabled to converse profitably of divine things: took pains to describe the difference between a regular and irregular SELF-LOVE; the one consisting with a supreme love to God, but the other not; the former uniting God's glory and the soul's happiness, that they become one common interest, but the latter disjoining and separating God's glory and man's happiness, seeking the latter with a neglect of the former. Illustrated this by that genuine love that is founded between the sexes; which is diverse from that which is wrought up towards a person only by rational argument, or hope of self-interest. Love is a pleasing passion, it affords pleasure to the mind where it is; but yet, genuine love is not, nor can be placed, upon any object with that design of pleasure itself.”
On Wednesday he rode to Sheffield; the next day, to Stockbridge; and on Saturday, home to Kaunaumeek, though the season was cold and stormy: which journey was followed with illness and pain. It appears by this diary, that he spent the time, while riding, in profitable meditations, and in lifting up his heart to God; and he speaks of assistance, comfort, and refreshment; but still complains of barrenness, &c. His diary for the five next days is full of the most heavy, bitter complaints; and he expresses himself as full of shame and self-loathing for his lifeless temper of mind and sluggishness of spirit, and as being in perplexity and extremity, and appearing to himself unspeakably vile and guilty before God, on account of some inward workings of corruption he found in his heart, &c.
“Thursday, Feb. 2. Spent this day in fasting and prayer, seeking the presence and assistance of God, that he would enable me to overcome all my corruptions and spiritual enemies.
“Friday, Feb. 3. Enjoyed more freedom and comfort than of late; was engaged in meditation upon the different whispers of the various powers and affections of a pious mind, exercised with a great variety of dispensations: and could but write, as well as meditate, on so entertaining a subject.* I hope the Lord gave me some true sense of divine things this day: but alas, how great and pressing are the remains of indwelling corruption! I am now more sensible than ever, that God alone is ‘the author and finisher of our faith,' i.e. that the whole, and every part of sanctification, and every good word, work, or thought, found in me, is the effect of his power and grace; that ‘without him I can do nothing,' in the strictest sense, and that ‘he works in us to will and to do of his own good pleasure,' and from no other motive. Oh, how amazing it is that people can talk so much about men's power and goodness; when, if God did not hold us back every moment, we should be devils incarnate! This my bitter experience, for several days last past, has abundantly taught me concerning myself.
“Saturday, Feb. 4. Enjoyed some degree of freedom and spiritual refreshment; was enabled to pray with some fervency; and longing desires of Zion's prosperity, and my faith and hope seemed to take hold of God, for the performance of what I was enabled to plead for. Sanctification in myself, and the ingathering of God's elect, was all my desire; and the hope of its accomplishment, all my joy.
“Lord's day, Feb. 5. Was enabled in some measure to rest and confide in God, and to prize his presence and some glimpses of the light of his countenance, above my necessary food. Thought myself, after the season of weakness, temptation, and desertion I endured the last week, to be somewhat like Samson, when his locks began to grow again. Was enabled to preach to my people with more life and warmth than I have for some weeks past.
“Monday, Feb. 6. This morning my soul again was strengthened in God, and found some sweet repose in him in prayer; longing especially for the complete mortification of sensuality and pride, and for resignation to God's dispensations, at all times, as through grace I felt it at this time. I did not desire deliverance from any difficulty that attends my circumstances, unless God was willing. O how comfortable is this temper!--Spent most of the day in reading God's word, in writing, and prayer. Enjoyed repeated and frequent comfort and intenseness of soul in prayer through the day. In the evening spent some hours in private conversation with my people; and afterwards felt some warmth in secret prayer.
* This is inserted among his Remains.
“Tuesday, Feb. 7. Was much engaged in some sweet meditations on the powers and affections of the godly soul in their pursuit of their beloved object: wrote something of the native language of spiritual sensation, in its soft and tender whispers; declaring, that it now feels and tastes that the Lord is gracious; that he is the supreme good, the only soul-satisfying happiness: that he is a complete, sufficient, and almighty portion: saying,
‘Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides this blessed portion. O, I feel it is heaven to please him, and to be just what he would have me to be! O that my soul were holy, as he is holy! O that it were pure, even as Christ is pure; and perfect, as my Father in heaven is perfect! These, I feel, are the sweetest commands in God's book, comprising all others. And shall I break them! must I break them! am I under a necessity of it as long as I live in the world! O my soul, woe, woe is me that I am a sinner, because I now necessarily grieve and offend this blessed God, who is infinite in goodness and grace! Oh, methinks, if he would punish me for my sins, it would not wound my heart so deep to offend him: but though I sin continually, yet he continually repeats his kindness to me! Oh, methinks I could bear any sufferings; but how can I bear to grieve and dishonour this blessed God! How shall I yield ten thousand times more honour to him? What shall I do to glorify and worship this best of beings? O that I could consecrate myself, soul and body, to his service for ever! O that I could give up myself to him, so as never more to attempt to be my own, or to have any will or affections that are not perfectly conformed to him! But, alas, alas! I find I cannot be thus entirely devoted to God; I cannot live, and not sin. O ye angels, do ye glorify him incessantly; and if possible, prostrate yourselves lower before the blessed King of heaven? I long to bear a part with you; and, if it were possible, to help you. Oh, when we have done all that we can, to all eternity, we shall not be able to offer the ten thousandth part of the homage that the glorious God deserves!'
“Felt something spiritual, devout, resigned, and mortified to the world, much of the day; and especially towards and in the evening. Blessed be God, that he enables me to love him for himself.
“Wednesday, Feb. 8. Was in a comfortable frame of soul most of the day; though sensible of, and restless under, spiritual barrenness. I find that both mind and body are quickly tired with intenseness and fervour in the things of God. O that I could be as incessant as angels in devotion and spiritual fervour!
“Thursday, Feb. 9. Observed this day as a day of fasting and prayer, entreating of God to bestow upon me his blessing and grace; especially to enable me to live a life of mortification to the world, as well as of resignation and patience. Enjoyed some realizing sense of divine power and goodness in prayer, several times; and was enabled to roll the burden of myself, and friends, and Zion, upon the goodness and grace of God: but, in the general, was more dry and barren than I have usually been of late upon such occasions.
“Friday, Feb. 10. Was exceedingly oppressed, most of the day, with shame, grief, and fear, under a sense of my past folly, as well as present barrenness and coldness. When God sets before me my past misconduct, especially any instances of misguided zeal, it sinks my soul into shame and confusion, makes me afraid of a shaking leaf. My fear is such as the prophet Jeremy complains of, Jer. xx. 10.--I have no confidence to hold up my face, even before my fellow-worms; but only when my soul confides in God, and I find the sweet temper of Christ, the spirit of humility, solemnity, and mortification, and resignation, alive in my soul.--But, in the evening, was unexpectedly refreshed in pouring out my complaint to God; my shame and fear was turned into a sweet composure and acquiescence in God.
“Saturday, Feb. 11. Felt much as yesterday: enjoyed but little sensible communion with God.
“Lord's day, Feb. 12. My soul seemed to confide in God, and to repose itself on him; and had outgoings of soul after God in prayer. Enjoyed some divine assistance, in the forenoon, in preaching; but in the afternoon, was more perplexed with shame, &c. Afterwards, found some relief in prayer; loved, as a feeble, afflicted, despised creature, to cast myself on a God of infinite grace and goodness, hoping for no happiness but from him.
“Monday, Feb. 13. Was calm and sedate in morning-devotions; and my soul seemed to rely on God.--Rode to Stockbridge, and enjoyed some comfortable meditations by the way; had a more refreshing taste and relish of heavenly blessedness than I have enjoyed for many months past. I have many times, of late, felt as ardent desires of holiness as ever; but not so much sense of the sweetness and unspeakable pleasure of the enjoyments and employments of heaven. My soul longed to leave earth, and bear a part with angels in their celestial employments. My soul said, ‘Lord, it is good to be here;' and it appeared to be better to die than to lose the relish of these heavenly delights.”
A sense of divine things seemed to continue with him, in a lesser degree, through the next day. On Wednesday he was, by some discourse that he heard, cast into a melancholy gloom, that operated much in the same manner as his melancholy had formerly done, when he came first to Kaunaumeek; the effects of which seemed to continue in some degree the six following days.
“Wednesday, Feb. 22. In the morning had as clear a sense of the exceeding pollution of my nature, as ever I remember to have had in my life. I then appeared to myself inexpressibly loathsome and defiled; sins of childhood, of early youth, and such follies as I had not thought of for years together, as I remember, came now fresh to my view as if committed but yesterday, and appeared in the most odious colours; they appeared more in numbers than the hairs of my head; yea, they ‘went over my head as a heavy burden.'--In the evening, the hand of faith seemed to be strengthened in God; my soul seemed to rest and acquiesce in him; was supported under my burdens, reading the 125th Psalm; and found that it was sweet and comfortable to lean on God.
“Thursday, Feb. 23. Was frequent in prayer, and enjoyed some assistance.--There is a God in heaven who overrules all things for the best; and this is the comfort of my soul: ‘I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of God in the land of the living,' notwithstanding present sorrows.--In the evening, enjoyed some freedom in prayer, for myself, friends, and the church of God.
“Friday, Feb. 24. Was exceeding restless and perplexed under a sense of the misimprovement of time; mourned to see time pass away; felt in the greatest hurry; seemed to have every thing to do: yet could do nothing, but only grieve and groan under my ignorance, unprofitableness, meanness, the foolishness of my actions and thoughts, the pride and bitterness of some past frames, all which at this time appeared to me in lively colours, and filled me with shame. I could not compose my mind to any profitable studies, by reason of this pressure. And the reason, I judge, why I am not allowed to study a great part of my time, is, because I am endeavouring to lay in such a stock of knowledge, as shall be a self-sufficiency.--I know it to be my indispensable duty to study, and qualify myself in the best manner I can for public service; but this is my misery, I naturally study and prepare, that I may ‘consume it upon my lusts' of pride and self-confidence.”
He continued in much the same frame of uneasiness at the misimprovement of time, and pressure of spirit under a sense of vileness, unprofitableness, &c. for the six following days; excepting some intervals of calmness and composure, in resignation to and confidence in God.
“Friday, March 2. Was most of the day employed in writing on a divine subject. Was frequent in prayer, and enjoyed some small degree of assistance. But in the evening, God was pleased to grant me a divine sweetness in prayer; especially in the duty of intercession. I think I never felt so much kindness and love to those who, I have reason to think, are my enemies--though at that time I found such a disposition to think the best of all, that I scarce knew how to think that any such thing as enmity and hatred lodged in any soul; it seemed as if all the world must needs be friends--and never prayed with more freedom and delight, for myself, or dearest friend, than I did now for my enemies.
“Saturday, March 3. In the morning spent (I believe) an hour in prayer, with great intenseness and freedom, and with the most soft and tender affection towards mankind. I longed that those who, I have reason to think, owe me ill will, might be eternally happy. It seemed refreshing to think of meeting them in heaven, how much soever they had injured me on earth: had no disposition to insist upon any confession from them, in order to reconciliation, and the exercise of love and kindness to them. O it is an emblem of heaven itself, to love all the world with a love of kindness, forgiveness, and benevolence; to feel our souls sedate, mild, and meek; to be void of all evil surmisings and suspicions, and scarce able to think evil of any man upon any occasion; to find our hearts simple, open, and free, to those that look upon us with a different eye!--Prayer was so sweet an exercise to me, that I knew not how to cease, lest I should lose the spirit of prayer. Felt no disposition to eat or drink, for the sake of the pleasure of it, but only to support my nature, and fit me for divine service. Could not be content without a very particular mention of a great number of dear friends at the throne of grace; as also the particular circumstances of many, so far as they were known.
“Lord's day, March 4. In the morning, enjoyed the same intenseness in prayer as yesterday morning, though not in so great a degree: felt the same spirit of love, universal benevolence, forgiveness, humility, resignation, mortification to the world, and composure of mind, as then. My soul rested in God; and I found I wanted no other refuge or friend. While my soul thus trusts in God, all things seem to be at peace with me, even the stones of the earth: but when I cannot apprehend and confide in God, all things appear with a different aspect.”
Through the four next days he complains of barrenness, want of holy confidence in God, stupidity, wanderings of mind, &c. and speaks of oppression of mind under a sense of exceeding meanness, past follies, as well as present workings of corruption.--On Friday he seems to have been restored to a considerable degree of the same excellent frame that he enjoyed the Saturday before.
“Saturday, March 10. In the morning, felt exceeding dead to the world, and all its enjoyments: I thought I was ready and willing to give up life and all its comforts, as soon as called to it; and yet then had as much comfort of life as almost ever I had. Life itself now appeared but an empty bubble; the riches, honours, and common enjoyments of life appeared extremely tasteless. I longed to be perpetually and entirely crucified to all things here below, by cross of Christ. My soul was sweetly resigned to God's disposal of me, in every regard; and I saw there had nothing happened but what was best for me. I confided in God, that he would never leave me, though I should ‘walk through the valley of the shadow of death.' It was then my meat and drink to be holy, to live to the Lord, and die to the Lord. And I thought, that I then enjoyed such a heaven, as far exceeded the most sublime conceptions of an unregenerate soul; and even unspeakably beyond what I myself could conceive of at another time. I did not wonder that Peter said, “Lord, it is good to be here,” when thus refreshed with divine glories. My soul was full of love and tenderness in the duty of intercession; especially felt a most sweet affection to some precious godly ministers of my acquaintance. Prayed earnestly for dear Christians, and for those I have reason to fear are my enemies; and could not have spoken a word of bitterness, or entertained a bitter thought, against the vilest man living. Had a sense of my own great unworthiness. My soul seemed to breathe forth love and praise to God afresh, when I thought he would let his children love and receive me as one of their brethren and fellow-citizens. When I thought of their treating me in that manner, I longed to lie at their feet; and could think of no way to express the sincerity and simplicity of my love and esteem of them, as being much better than myself.--Towards night was very sorrowful; seemed to myself the worst creature living; and could not pray, nor meditate, nor think of holding up my face before the world.--Was a little relieved in prayer, in the evening; but longed to get on my knees, and ask forgiveness of every body that ever had seen any thing amiss in my past conduct, especially in my religious zeal.--Was afterwards much perplexed, so that I could not sleep quietly.
“Lord's day, March 11. My soul was in some measure strengthened in God, in morning devotion; so that I was released from trembling fear and distress.--Preached to my people from the parable of the sower, Matt. xiii. and enjoyed some assistance, both parts of the day: had some freedom, affection, and fervency in addressing my poor people; longed that God should take hold of their hearts, and make them spiritually alive. And indeed I had so much to say to them, that I knew not how to leave off speaking.*
“Monday, March 12. In the morning was in a devout, tender, and loving frame of mind; and was enabled to cry to God, I hope, with a child-like spirit, with importunity, and resignation, and composure of mind. My spirit was full of quietness, and love to mankind; and longed that peace should reign on the earth: was grieved at the very thoughts of a fiery, angry, and intemperate zeal in religion; mourned over past follies in that regard; and my soul confided in God for strength and grace sufficient for my future work and trials.--Spent the day mainly in hard labour, making preparation for my intended journey.
“Tuesday, March 13. Felt my soul going forth after God sometimes; but not with such ardency as I longed for. In the evening, was enabled to continue instant in prayer, for some considerable time together; and especially had respect to the journey I designed to enter upon, with the leave of Divine Providence, on the morrow. Enjoyed some freedom and fervency, entreating that the divine presence might attend me in every place where my business might lead me; and had a particular reference to the trials and temptations that I apprehended I might be more eminently exposed to in particular places. Was strengthened and comforted; although I was before very weary. Truly the joy of the Lord is strength and life.
“Wednesday, March 14. Enjoyed some intenseness of soul in prayer, repeating my petitions for God's presence in every place where I expected to be in my journey. Besought the Lord that I might not be too much pleased and amused with dear friends and acquaintance, in one place and another.--Near ten set out on my journey; and near night came to Stockbridge.
“Thursday, March 15. Rode down to Sheffield. Here I met a messenger from East Hampton on Long-Island; who by the unanimous vote of that large town, was sent to invite me thither, in order to settle with that people, where I had been before frequently invited. Seemed more at a loss what was my duty than before; when I heard of the great difficulties of that place, I was much concerned and grieved, and felt some desires to comply with their request; but knew not what to do: endeavoured to commit the case to God.”
The two next days he went no further than Salisbury, being much hindered by the rain. When he came there, he was much indisposed.--He speaks of comfortable and profitable conversation with christian friends, on these days.
“Lord's day, March 18. [At Salisbury.] Was exceeding weak and faint, so that I could scarce walk: but God was pleased to afford me much freedom, clearness, and fervency in preaching: I have not had the like assistance in preaching to sinners for many months past.--Here another messenger met me, and informed me of the vote of another congregation, to give me an invitation to come among them upon probation for settlement.† Was somewhat exercised in mind with a weight and burden of care. O that God would ‘send forth faithful labourers into his harvest!'”
After this he went forward on his journey towards New York and New Jersey: in which he proceeded slowly; performing his journey under great degrees of bodily indisposition. However, he preached several times by the way, being urged by friends; in which he had considerable assistance. He speaks of comfort in conversation with christian friends, from time to time, and of various things in the exercises and frames of his heart, that show much of a divine influence on his mind in this journey: but yet complains of the things that he feared, viz. a decline of his spiritual life, or vivacity in religion, by means of his constant removal from place to place, and want of retirement; and complains bitterly of his unworthiness, deadness, &c.--He came to New York on Wednesday, March 28, and to Elizabeth-town on the Saturday following, where it seems he waited till the commissioners came together.
* This was the last sabbath that ever he performed public service at Kaunaumeek, and these the last sermons that ever he preached there. It appears by his diary, that while he continued with these Indians, he took great pains with them, and did it with much discretion: but the particular manner how, has been omitted for brevity's sake.
† This congregation was that at Millington, near Haddam. They were very earnestly desirous of his coming among them.
“Thursday, April 5. Was again much exercised with weakness, and with pain in my head. Attended on the commissioners in their meeting.* Resolved to go on still with the Indian affair, if Divine Providence permitted; although I had before felt some inclination to go to East Hampton, where I was solicited to go.”†
After this, he continued two or three days in the Jerseys, very ill; and then returned to New York; and from thence into New England; and went to his native town of Haddam, where he arrived on Saturday, April 14.--And he continues still his bitter complaints of want of retirement. While he was in New York, he says thus, “Oh, it is not the pleasures of the world can comfort me! If God deny his presence, what are the pleasures of the city to me? One hour of sweet retirement where God is, is better than the whole world.” And he continues to complain of his ignorance, meanness, and unworthiness. However, he speaks of some seasons of special assistance, and divine sweetness.--He spent some days among his friends at East Hampton and Millington.
“Tuesday, April 17. Rode to Millington again; and felt perplexed when I set out; was feeble in body, and weak in faith. I was going to preach a lecture; and feared I should never have assistance enough to get through. But contriving to ride alone, at a distance from the company that was going, I spent the time in lifting up my heart to God: had not gone far before my soul was abundantly strengthened with those words, ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?' I went on, confiding in God; and fearing nothing so much as self-confidence. In this frame I went to the house of God, and enjoyed some assistance. Afterwards felt the spirit of love and meekness in conversation with some friends. Then rode home to my brother's; and in the evening, singing hymns with friends, my soul seemed to melt; and in prayer afterwards, enjoyed the exercise of faith, and was enabled to be fervent in spirit: found more of God's presence, than I have done any time in my late wearisome journey. Eternity appeared very near; my nature was very weak, and seemed ready to be dissolved; the sun declining, and the shadows of the evening drawing on apace. O I longed to fill up the remaining moments all for God! Though my body was so feeble, and wearied with preaching, and much private conversation, yet I wanted to sit up all night to do something for God. To God, the giver of these refreshments, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
“Wednesday, April 18. Was very weak, and enjoyed but little spiritual comfort. Was exercised with one who cavilled against original sin. May the Lord open his eyes to see the fountain of sin in himself!”
After this, he visited several ministers in Connecticut; and then travelled towards Kaunaumeek, and came to Mr. Sergeant's at Stockbridge, Thursday, April 26. He performed this journey in a very weak state of body. The things he speaks of, appertaining to the frames and exercises of his mind, are at some times deadness and want of spiritual comfort; at other times, resting in God, spiritual sweetness in conversation, engagedness in meditation on the road, assistance in preaching, rejoicing to think that so much more of his work was done, and he so much nearer to the eternal world. And he once and again speaks of a sense of great ignorance, spiritual pollution, &c.
“Friday and Saturday, April 27, and 28. Spent some time in visiting friends, and discoursing with my people, (who were now moved down from their own place to Mr. Sergeant's,) and found them very glad to see me returned. Was exercised in my mind with a sense of my own unworthiness.
“Lord's day, April 29. Preached for Mr. Sergeant, both parts of the day, from Rev. xiv. 4. ‘These are they which were not defiled,' &c. Enjoyed some freedom in preaching, though not much spirituality. In the evening, my heart was in some measure lifted up in thankfulness to God for any assistance.
“Monday, April 30. Rode to Kaunaumeek, but was extremely ill; did not enjoy the comfort I hoped for in my own house.
“Tuesday, May 1. Having received new orders to on to a number of Indians on Delaware river in Pennsylvania, and my people here being mostly removed to Mr. Sergeant's, I this day took all my clothes, books, &c. and disposed of them, and set out for Delaware river: but made it my way to return to Mr. Sergeant's; which I did this day, just at night. Rode several hours in the rain through the howling wilderness, although I was so disordered in body, that little or nothing but blood came from me.”
He continued at Stockbridge the next day, and on Thursday rode a little way, to Sheffield, under a great degree of illness; but with encouragement and cheerfulness of mind under his fatigues. On Friday he rode to Salisbury, and continued there till after the sabbath. He speaks of his soul's being, some part of this time, refreshed in conversation with some christian friends, about their heavenly home and their journey thither. At other times, he speaks of himself as exceedingly perplexed with barrenness and deadness, and has this exclamation, “Oh, that time should pass with so little done for God!”--On Monday he rode to Sharon; and speaks of himself as distressed at the consideration of the misimprovement of time.
“Tuesday, May 8. Set out from Sharon in Connecticut, and travelled about forty-five miles to a place called the Fish-kill;‡ and lodged there. Spent much of my time, while riding, in prayer, that God would go with me to Delaware. My heart sometimes was ready to sink with the thoughts of my work, and going alone in the wilderness, I knew not where: but still it was comfortable to think, that others of God's children had ‘wandered about in caves and dens of the earth,' and Abraham, when he was called to go forth, ‘went out, not knowing whither he went.' O that I might follow after God!”
The next day he went forward on his journey; crossed Hudson's river, and went to Goshen in the Highlands; and so travelled across the woods, from Hudson's river to Delaware, about a hundred miles, through a desolate and hideous country, above New Jersey; where were very few settlements; in which journey he suffered much fatigue and hardship. He visited some Indians in the way,§ and discoursed with them concerning Christianity. Was considerably melancholy and disconsolate, being alone in a strange wilderness. On Saturday he came to a settlement of Irish and Dutch people, about twelve miles above the Forks of Delaware.
* The Indians at Kaunaumeek being but few in number, and Mr. Brainerd having now been labouring among them about a year, and having prevailed upon them to be willing to leave Kaunaumeek, and remove to Stockbridge, to live constantly under Mr. Sergeant's ministry; he thought he might now do more service for Christ among the Indians elsewhere; and therefore went this journey to New Jersey to lay the matter before the commissioners; who met at Elizabeth-town, on this occasion, and determined that he should forthwith leave Kaunaumeek, and go to the Delaware Indians.
† By the invitations Mr. Brainerd had lately received, it appears, that it was not from necessity, or for want of opportunities to settle in the ministry amongst the English, notwithstanding the disgrace he had been laid under at college, that he was determined to forsake all the outward comforts to be enjoyed in the English settlements, to go and spend his life among the brutish savages, and endure the difficulties and self-denials of an Indian mission. He had, just as he was leaving Kaunaumeek, had an earnest invitation to a settlement at East Hampton on Long Island, the fairest, pleasantest town on the whole island, and one of its largest and most wealthy parishes. The people there were unanimous in their desires to have him for their pastor, and for a long time continued in an earnest pursuit of what they desired, and were hardly brought to relinquish their endeavours and give up their hopes of obtaining him. Besides the invitation he had to Millington; which was near his native town, and in the midst of his friends. Nor did Mr. Brainerd choose the business of a missionary to the Indians, rather than accept of those invitations, because he was unacquainted with the difficulties and sufferings which attended such a service; for he had had experience of these difficulties in summer and winter; having spent about a twelvemonth in a lonely desert among these savages, where he had gone through extreme hardships, and been the subject of a train of outward and inward sorrows, which were now fresh in his mind. Notwithstanding all these things, he chose still to go on with this business; and that although the place he was now going to, was at a still much greater distance from most of his friends, acquaintance, and native land.
‡ A place so called in New York government, near Hudson's river, on the west side of the river.
§ See Mr. Brainerd's Narrative, in a letter to Mr. Pemberton, among his Remains.
“Lord's day, May 13. Rose early; felt very poorly after my long journey, and after being wet and fatigued. Was very melancholy; have scarce even seen such a gloomy morning in my life; there appeared to be no sabbath; the children were all at play; I a stranger in the wilderness, and knew not where to go; and all circumstances seemed to conspire to render my affairs dark and discouraging. Was disappointed respecting an interpreter, and heard that the Indians were much scattered, &c. Oh, I mourned after the presence of God, and seemed like a creature banished from his sight! yet he was pleased to support my sinking soul, amidst all my sorrows; so that I never entertained any thought of quitting my business among the poor Indians; but was comforted to think that death would ere long set me free from these distresses.--Rode about three or four miles to the Irish people, where I found some that appeared sober and concerned about religion. My heart then began to be a little encouraged: went and preached first to the Irish, and then to the Indians; and in the evening, was a little comforted; my soul seemed to rest on God, and take courage. O that the Lord would be my support and comforter in an evil world!
“Monday, May 14. Was very busy in some necessary studies. Felt myself very loose from all the world; all appeared ‘vanity and vexation of spirit.' Seemed lonesome and disconsolate, as if I were banished from all mankind, and bereaved of all that is called pleasurable in the world; but appeared to myself so vile and unworthy, it seemed fitter for me to be here than any where.
“Tuesday, May 15. Still much engaged in my studies; and enjoy more health than I have for some time past: but was something dejected in spirit with a sense of my meanness; seemed as if I could never do any thing at all to any good purpose by reason of ignorance and folly. O that a sense of these things might work more habitual humility in my soul!”
He continued much in the same frame the next day.
“Thursday, May 17. Was this day greatly distressed with a sense of my vileness; appeared to myself too bad to walk on God's earth, or to be treated with kindness by any of his creatures. God was pleased to let me see my inward pollution and corruption, to such a degree, that I almost despaired of being made holy: ‘Oh! wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?' In the afternoon met with the Indians, according to appointment, and preached to them. And while riding to them, my soul seemed to confide in God; and afterwards had some relief and enlargement of soul in prayer, and some assistance in the duty of intercession; vital piety and holiness appeared sweet to me, and I longed for the perfection of it.
“Friday, May 18. Felt again something of the sweet spirit of religion; and my soul seemed to confide in God, that he would never leave me.--But oftentimes saw myself so mean a creature, that I knew not how to think of preaching. O that I could always live to and upon God!
“Saturday, May 19. Was, some part of the time, greatly oppressed with the weight and burden of my work; it seemed impossible for me ever to go through with the business I had undertaken.--Towards night was very calm and comfortable; and I think my soul trusted in God for help.
“Lord's day, May 20. Preached twice to the poor Indians, and enjoyed some freedom in speaking, while I attempted to remove their prejudices against Christianity. My soul longed for assistance from above, all the while; for I saw I had no strength sufficient for that work. Afterwards preached to the Irish people; was much assisted in the first prayer, and something in sermon. Several persons seemed much concerned for their souls, with whom I discoursed afterwards with much freedom and some power. Blessed be God for any assistance afforded to an unworthy worm. O that I could live to him!”
Through the remainder of this week he was sometimes ready to sink with a sense of his unworthiness and unfitness for the work of the ministry; and sometimes encouraged and lifted above his fears and sorrows, and was enabled confidently to rely on God; and especially on Saturday, towards night, he enjoyed calmness and composure, and assistance in prayer to God. He rejoiced, “That God remains unchangeably powerful and faithful, a sure and sufficient portion, and the dwelling-place of his children in all generations.”
“Lord's day, May 27. Visited my Indians in the morning, and attended upon a funeral among them; was affected to see their heathenish practices. O that they might be ‘turned from darkness to light!' Afterwards got a considerable number of them together, and preached to them; and observed them very attentive. After this, preached to the white people from Heb. ii. 3. ‘How shall we escape, if we neglect,' &c. Was enabled to speak with some freedom and power: several people seemed much concerned for their souls; especially one who had been educated a Roman catholic. Blessed be the Lord for any help.
“Monday, May 28. Set out from the Indians above the Forks of Delaware, on a journey towards Newark in New Jersey, according to my orders. Rode through the wilderness; was much fatigued with the heat; lodged at a place called Black-river; was exceedingly tired and worn out.”
On Tuesday he came to Newark. The next day, went to Elizabeth-town; on Thursday he went to New York; and on Friday returned to Elizabeth-town. These days were spent in some perplexity of mind. He continued at Elizabeth-town till Friday in the week following. Was enlivened, refreshed, and strengthened on the sabbath at the Lord's table. The ensuing days of the week were spent chiefly in studies preparatory to his ordination; and on some of them he seemed to have much of God's gracious presence, and of the sweet influences of his Spirit; but was in a very weak state of body. On Saturday he rode to Newark.
“Lord's day, June 10. [At Newark] In the morning, was much concerned how I should perform the work of the day; and trembled at the thoughts of being left to myself.--Enjoyed very considerable assistance in all parts of the public service. Had an opportunity again to attend on the ordinance of the Lord's supper, and through divine goodness was refreshed in it: my soul was full of love and tenderness towards the children of God, and towards all men; felt a certain sweetness of disposition towards every creature. At night I enjoyed more spirituality and sweet desire of holiness, than I have felt for some time: was afraid of every thought and every motion, lest thereby my heart should be drawn away from God. O that I might never leave the blessed God! ‘Lord, in thy presence is fulness of joy.' O the blessedness of living to God!
“Monday, June 11. This day the Presbytery met together at Newark, in order to my ordination. Was very weak and disordered in body; yet endeavoured to repose my confidence in God. Spent most of the day alone; especially the forenoon. At three in the afternoon preached my probation-sermon, from Acts xxvi. 17, 18. ‘Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles,' &c. being a text given me for that end. Felt not well, either in body or mind; however God carried me through comfortably. Afterwards passed an examination before the Presbytery. Was much tired, and my mind burdened with the greatness of that charge I was in the most solemn manner about to take upon me; my mind was so pressed with the weight of the work incumbent upon me, that I could not sleep this night, though very weary and in great need of rest.
“Tuesday, June 12. Was this morning further examined, respecting my experimental acquaintance with Christianity.*
* Mr Pemberton, in a letter to the Honourable Society in Scotland that employed Mr. Brainerd, which he wrote concerning him, (published in Scotland, in the Christian Monthly History,) writes thus, “We can with pleasure say, that Mr. Brainerd passed through his ordination-trial to the universal approbation of the Presbytery, and appeared uncommonly qualified for the work of the ministry. He seems to be armed with a great deal of self-denial, and animated with a noble zeal to propagate the gospel among those barbarous nations, who have long dwelt in the darkness of heathenism.”
At ten o'clock my ordination was attended; the sermon preached by the Reverend Mr. Pemberton. At this time I was affected with a sense of the important trust committed to me; yet was composed, and solemn, without distraction: and I hope that then, as many times before, I gave myself up to God, to be for him, and not for another. O that I might always be engaged in the service of God, and duly remember the solemn charge I have received, in the presence of God, angels, and men. Amen. May I be assisted of God for this purpose.--Towards night rode to Elizabeth-town.”