« AnteriorContinuar »
then expired, on Friday, October 9, 1747, when his soul, as we may well conclude, was received by his dear Lord and Master, as an eminently faithful servant, into that state of perfection of holiness, and fruition of God, which he had so often and so ardently longed for ; and was welcomed by the glori. ous assembly of the upper world, as one peculiarly fitted to join them in their blessed employments and enjoyments.
Much respect was shewn to his memory at his funeral ; which was on the Monday following, after a sermon preached the same day, on that solemn occasion. His funeral was attended by eight of the neighboring ministers, and seventeen other gentlemen of liberal education, and a great concourse of people.]
I. We have here an opportunity, as I apprehends
E in a very lively instance, to see the nature of true religion ; and the manner of its operation, when exemplified in a high degree and powerful exercise. Particularly it may be worthy to be observed,
1. How greatly Mr. Brainerd's religion differed from that of some pretenders to the experience of a clear work of saving conversion wrought on their hearts ; who, depending and living on that, settle in a cold, careless and carnal frame of mind, and in a neglect of thorough, carnest religion, in the stated practice of it. Although his convictiobs and conversion were in all respects exceeding clear and very remarkable ; yet how far was he from acting as though he thought he had got through his work, when once he had obtained comfort, and satisfaction of his interest in Christ, and title to heaven ! On the contrary, that work on his heart, by which he was brought to this, was with him evidently but the beginning of his work,his first entering on the great business of religion and the service of God, his first setting out in his race. His work was not finished, nor his race ended, until life was ended ; agreeable to frequent scripture representations of the Christian life. He continued pressing forward in a constant manner, forgetting the things that were behind, and reaching forth towards the things that were before. His pains and earnests
fiess in the business of religion were rather increased than diminished, after he had received comfort and satisfaction con-, cerning the safety of his state. Those divine principles, which after this he was actuated by, of love to God, and longings and thirstings after holiness, seem to be more effectual to engage him to pains and activity in religion, than fear of hell had been before.
And as his conversion was not the end of his work, or of the course of his diligence and strivings in religion ; so neither was it the end of the work of the Spirit of God on his heart : But on the contrary, the beginning of that work ; the beginning of his spiritual discoveries, and holy views ; the first dawning of the light,which thenceforward increased more and more ; the beginning of his holy affections, his sorrow for sin, his love to God, his rejoicing in Christ Jesus, liis longings after holiness. And the powerful operations of the Spirit of God in these things, were carried on, from the day of his conversion, in a continued course, to his dying day. His religious experiences, his adıniration, his joy and praise, and flowing affections, did not only hold up to a considerable height for a few days, wecks or months, at first, while hope and comfort were new things with him ; and then gradually dwindle and die away, until they came to almost nothing, and so leave him without any sensible or remarkable experience of spirittal discoveries, or holy and divine affections, for months together; as it is with many, who, after the newness of things is over, soon come to that pass, that it is again with them very much as it used to be before their supposed conversion, with respect to any present views of God's glory, of Christ's excellency, or of the beauty of divine things ; and with respect to any present thirstings for God, or ardent outgoings of their souls after divine objects : But only now and then, they have a comfortable reflection on things they have met with in times past, and are something affected with them ; and so rest easy, thinking all things are well; they have had a good clear work, and their state is safe, and they doubt not but they shall go to heaven when they die. How far otherwise was it with Mr. Brainerd, than it is with such persons ! His experiVOL. III.
ences, instead of dying away, were evidently of an increasing nature. His first love and other holy affections, even at the beginning, were very great ; but after months and years, became much greater and more remarkable ; and the spiritual exercises of his mind continued exceeding great, though not equally so at all times, yet usually so, without indulged remissness, and without habitual dwindling and dying away, even until his decease. They began in a time of general deadness all over the land, and were greatly increased in a time of general reviving of religion. And when religion decayed again, and a general deadness returned, his experiences were still kept up in their height, and his holy exercises maintained in their life and vigor ; and so continued to be in a general course, wherever he was, and whatever his circumstances were, among English and Indians, in company, and alone, in towns and cities, and in the howling wilderness, in sickness and in health, living and dying. This is agreeable to scripture descriptions of true and right religion, and of the Christian life. The change that was wrought in him at his conversion, was agreeable to scripture representations of that change which is wrought in true conversion ; a great change, and an abiding change, rendering him a new man, a new creature : Not only a change as to hope and comfort, and an apprehension of his own good estate ; and a transient change,
; consisting in high flights of passing affections, but a change of nature, a change of the abiding habit and temper of his mind. Nor a partial change, merely in point of opinion, or outward reformation ; much less a change from one error to another, or from cne sin to another ; but an universal change, both internal and external ; as from corrupt and dangerous principles in religion, unto the belief of the truth, so from both the liabits and ways of sin, unto universal holiness'of heart and practice ; from the power and service of Satan, unto God.
2. His religion did apparently and greatly differ from that of many high pretenders to religion, who are frequently actuated by vehement emotions of mind, and are carried on in a course of sudden and strong impressions, and supposed high
Hluminations and immediate discoveries, and at the same time are persons of a virulent zeal, not according to knowledge.
His convictions, preceding his conversion, did not arise from any frightful impressions on his imagination, or any external images and ideas of fire and brimstone, a sword of vengeance drawn, a dark pit open, devils in terrible shapes, &e. strongly fixed in his mind. His sight of his own sinfulness did not consist in any imagination of a heap of loathsome material filthiness within him ; nor did his sense of the hardness of his heart consist in any bodily feeling in his breast, some. thing hard and heavy like a stone, nor in any imaginations whatever of such a nature.
His first discovery of God or Christ, at his conversion, was not any strong idea of any external glory or brightness, or majesty and beauty of countenance, or pleasant voice ; nor was it any supposed, immediate manifestation of God's love to him in particular ; nor any imagination of Christ's smiling face, arms open, or words immediately spoken to him, as by name, revealing Christ's love to him ; either words of scripture, or any other ; but a manifestation of God's glory, and the beauty of his nature, as supremely cxcellent in itself; powerfully drawing, and sweetly captivating his heart ; bringing him to a hearty desire to exalt God, set him on the throne, and give him supreme honor and glory, as the king and sovereign of the universe ; and also a new sense of the infinite wisdom, suitableness and excellency of the way of salvation by Christ ; powerfully engaging his whole soul to embrace this way of salvation, and to delight in it. His first faith did not consist in believing that Christ loved him, and died for bim, in particular. His first comfort was not from any secret sug. gestion of God's eternal love to him, or that God was reconciled to him, or intended great mercy for him ; by any such' texts as these, Son, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee. Fear not, I am thy God, &c. or in any such way. On the contrary, when God's glory was first discovered to him, it was without any thought of salvation as his own. His first expe- . rience of the sanctifying and comforting power of God's Spirit did not begin in some bodily sensation, any pleasant warm