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To his Brother John, at College.
Crosweeksung, New-Jersey, Dec. 28, 1745.
VERY DEAR BROTHER,
IAM in one continued, perpetual, and uninterrupted hurry; and divine providence throws so much upon me, that I do not see it will ever be otherwise. May I "obtain mercy of God to be faithful to the death!" I cannot say, I am weary of any hurry; I only want strength and grace to do more for God, than I have ever yet done.
My dear brother; The Lord of heaven, that has carried me through many trials, bless you; bless you for time, and eternity; and fit you to do service for him in his church below, and to enjoy his blissful presence in his church triumphant. My brother; "the time is short:" Oh let us fill it up for God; let us "count the sufferings of this present time" as nothing, if we can but "run our race, and finish our course with joy." Oh, let us strive to live to God. I bless the Lord, I have nothing to do with earth, but only to labour honestly in it for God, till I shall "accomplish as an hireling my day." I think, I do not desire to live one minute for any thing that earth can afford. Oh, that I could live for none but God, till my dying
I am your affectionate brother,
To his Brother Israel, then a Student at Yale-College, New
Elisabeth-Town, New-Jersey, Nov, 24, 1746.
I HAD determined to make you and my other friends in New-England a visit, this fall: partly from an earnest desire I
had to see you and them, and partly with a view to the recovery of my health; which has, for more than three months past, been much impaired. And in order to prosecute this design, I set out from my own people about three weeks ago, and came as far as to this place; where, my disorder greatly increasing, I have been obliged to keep house ever since, until the day before yesterday; at which tinre, I was able to ride about half a mile, but found myself much tired with the journey. I have now no hopes of prosecuting my journey into New-England this winter; my present state of health will by no means admit of it. Although I am, through divine goodness, much better than I was some days ago; yet I have not strength now to ride more than ten miles a day, if the season were warm, and fit for me to travel in. My disorder has been attended with several symptoms of a consumption; and I have been at times apprehensive, that my great change was at hand: yet blessed be God, I have never been affrighted; but, on the contrary, at times much delighted with a view of its approach. Oh, the blessedness of being delivered from the clogs of flesh and sense, from a body of sin and spiritual death! Oh, the unspeakable sweetness of being translated into a state of complete purity and perfection! believe me, my brother, a lively view and hope of these things, will make the king of terrors himself appear agreeable.--Dear brother, let me intreat you, to keep eternity in your view, and behave yourself as becomes one that must shortly "give an account of all things done in the body." That God may be your God, and prepare you for his service here, and his kingdom of glory hereafter, is the desire and daily prayer of
Your affectionate loving brother,
To his Brother Israel, at College: written in the time of his extreme illness in Boston, a few months before his death.
MY DEAR BROTHER,
Boston, June 30, 1747.
IT is is from the sides of eternity I now address you. I am heartily sorry, that I have so little strength to write what I long so much to communicate to you. But let me tell you, my
brother, eternity is another thing than we ordinarily take it to be in a healthful state. Oh, how vast and boundless! Oh, how fixed and unalterable! Oh, of what infinite importance is it, that we be prepared for eternity! I have been just a dying, now for more than a week; and all around me have thought me so. I have had clear views of eternity; have seen the blessedness of the godly, in some measure; and have longed to share their happy state; as well as been comfortably satisfied, that through grace, I shall do so: but Oh, what anguish is raised in my mind, to think of an eternity for those who are Christless, for those who are mistaken, and who bring their false hopes to the grave with them! The sight was so dreadful, I could by no means bear it: my thoughts recoiled, and I said, (under a more affecting sense than ever before), "Who can dwell with everlasting burnings!" Oh, methought, could I now see my friends, that I might warn them to see to it, that they lay their foundation for eternity sure. And you, my dear brother, I have been particularly concerned for; and have wondered, I so much neglected conversing with you about your spiritual state at our last meeting. Oh, my brother, let me then beseech you now to examine, whether you are indeed a new creature? whether you have ever acted above self? whether the glory of God has ever been the sweetest and highest concern with you? whether you have ever been reconciled to all the perfections of God? in a word, whether God has been your portion, and a holy conformity to him your chief delight? If you cannot answer positively, consider seriously the frequent breathings of your soul: but do not however put yourself off with a slight answer. If you have reason to think you are graceless, Oh give yourself and the throne of grace no rest, till God arise and save. But if the case should be otherwise, bless God for his grace, and press after holiness *.
My soul longs, that you should be fitted for, and in due time go into the work of the ministry. I cannot bear to think of your going into any other business in life. Do not be discouraged, because you see your elder brothers in the ministry die early, one after another. I declare, now I am dying, I would not have spent my life otherwise for the whole world. But I must leave this with God.
If this line should come to your hands soon after the date, I should be almost desirous you should set out on a journey
* Mr. BRAINERD afterwards had greater satisfaction concerning the state of his brother's soul, by much opportunity of conversation with bim before his death.
to me: it may be, you may see me alive; which I should much rejoice in. But if you cannot come, I must commit you to the grace of God, where you are. May he be your guide and counsellor, your sanctifier and eternal portion!
Oh, my dear brother, flee fleshly lusts, and the inchanting amusements, as well as corrupt doctrines of the present day; and strive to live to God. Take this as the last line from
Your affectionate dying brother,
To a young gentleman, a candidate for the work of the ministry, for whom he had a special friendship; also written at the same time of his great illness and nearness to death in Boston.
VERY DEAR SIR,
amazing it is, that the living who know they must die, should notwithstanding "put far away the evil day,” in a season of health and prosperity; and live at such an awful distance from a familiarity with the grave, and the great concerns beyond it! and especially it may justly fill us with surprise, that any whose minds have been divinely enlightened, to behold the important things of eternity as they are, I say, that such should live in this manner. And yet, Sir, how frequently is this case? how rare are the instances of those who live and act, from day to day; as on the verge of eternity; striving to fill up all their remaining moments, in the service, and to the honour of their great Master? We insensibly trifle away time, while we seem to have enough of it; and are so strangely amused, as in a great measure to lose a sense of the holiness and blessed qualifications necessary to prepare us to be inhabitants of the heavenly paradise. But Oh, dear Sir, a dying bed, if we enjoy our reason clearly, will give another view of things. I have now, for more than three weeks, lain under the greatest degree of weakness; the greater part of the time, expecting daily and hourly to enter into the eternal world: sometimes have been so far gone, as to be wholly speechless, for, some hours together. And Oh, of what vast importance has a holy spiritual life appeared to me to be at this season! I have longed to call upon all my friends, to make it their busi
ness to live to God; and especially all that are designed for, or engaged in the service of the sanctuary. O dear Sir, do not think it enough, to live at the rate of common Christians. Alas, to how little purpose do they often converse, when they meet together! The visits, even of those who are called Christians indeed, are frequently extremely barren; and conscience cannot but condemn us for the misimprovement of time, while we have been conversant with them. But the way to enjoy the divine presence, and be fitted for distinguishing service for God, is to live a life of great devotion and constant self-dedication to him; observing the motions and dispositions of our own hearts, whence we may learn the corruptions that lodge there, and our constant need of help from God for the performance of the least duty. And Oh, dear Sir, let me beseech you frequently to attend the great and precious duties of secret fasting and prayer.
I have a secret thought, from some things I have observed, that God may perhaps design you for some singular service in the world. Oh then labour to be prepared and qualified to do much for God. Read Mr. EDWARDS's piece on the affections, again and again; and labour to distinguish clearly upon experiences and affections in religion, that you may make a difference between the gold and the shining dross. I say, labour here, if ever you would be an useful minister of Christ; for nothing has put such a stop to the work of God in the late day as the false religion, and the wild affections that attend it. Suffer me therefore, finally, to intreat you earnestly to "give yourself to prayer, to reading and meditation" on divine truths: strive to penetrate to the bottom of them, and never be content with a superficial knowledge, By this means, your thoughts will gradually grow weighty and judicious; and you hereby will be possessed of a valuable treasure, out of which you may produce things new and old," to the glory of God.
And now, I commend you to the grace of God;" earnestly desiring, that a plentiful portion of the divine Spirit may rest upon you; that you may live to God in every capacity of life, and do abundant service for him in a public one, if it be his will; and that you may be richly qualified for the "inheritance of the saints in light."-I scarce expect to see your face any more in the body; and therefore intreat you to accept this as the last token of love, from
Your sincerely affectionate dying friend,