Imágenes de páginas

where I design to stay this winter : and as yet, upon many accounts, am well satisfied with my coming hither. The state and circumstances of the Indians, spiritual and temporal, much exceed what I expected. I have endeavoured to acquaint myself with the state of the Indians in general, with particular persons, and with the school, as much as the short time I have been here would admit of. And notwithstanding my expectations were very much raised, from Mr. David BRAINERD's Journal, and from particular informations from him; yet I must confess, that in many respects, they are not equal to that which now appears to me to be true, concerning the glorious work of divine grace amongst the Indians.

“ The evening after I came to town, I had opportunity to see the Indians together, whilst the Reverend Mr. Arthur preached to them: at which time there appeared a very general and uncommon seriousness and solemnity in the congregation: and this appeared to me to be the effect of an inward sense of the importance of divine truths, and not because they were hearing a stranger, which was abundantly confirmed to me the next Sabbath, when there was the same devout attendance on divine service, and a surprising solemnity appearing in the performance of each part of divine worship. And some, who are hopefully true Christians, appear to have been at that time much enlivened and comforted; not from any observable commotions then, but from conversation afterwards: and others seemed to be under pressing concern for their souls. I have endeavoured to acquaint myself with particular persons ; many of whom seem to be very humble and growing Christians; although some of them, (as I am informed) were before their conversion most monstrously wicked.

“ Religious conversation seems to be very pleasing and delightful to many, and especially that which relates to the exercises of the heart. And many here do not seem to be real Christians only, but growing Christians also; as well in doctrinal, as experimental knowledge. Besides my conversation with particular persons, I have had opportunity to attend upon one of Mr. BRAINERD's catechetical lectures; where I was surprised at their readiness in answering questions to which they had not been used; although Mr. BRAINERD complained much of their uncommon deficiency. It is surprising to see this people, who not long since were led captive by Satan at his will, and living in the practice of all manner of abominations, without the least sense even of moral honesty, yet now living soberly and regularly, and not seeking every man his

own, but every man, in some sense, his neighbour's good; and to see those, who but a little while past, knew nothing of the true God, now worshipping him in a solemn and devout manner; not only in public, but in their families and in secret; which is manifestly the case, it being a difficult thing to walk out in the woods in the morning, without disturbing persons at their secret devotion. And it seems wonderful, that this should be the case, not only with adult persons, but with children also. It is observable here, that many children, (if not the children in general) retire into secret places to pray. And, as far as at present I can judge, this is not the effect of custom and fashion, but of real seriousness and thoughtfulness about their souls.

“ I have frequently gone into the school, and have spent considerable time there amongst the children; and have been surprised to see, not only their diligent attendance upon the business of the school, but also the proficiency they have made in it, in reading and writing, and in their catechisms of divers sorts. It seems to be as pleasing and as natural to these children, to have their books in their hands, as it does for many others to be at play. I have gone into a house where there has been a number of children accidentally gathered together; and observed, that every one had his book in his hand, and was diligently studying it. About thirty of these children, can answer to all the questions in the Assembly's catechism; and the greater part of them are able to do it with the proofs, to the fourth commandment. I wish there were many such schools; I confess, that I never was acquainted with such an one, in many respects. Oh that what God has done here, may prove to be the beginning of a far more glorious and extensive work of grace among the Heathen!

“ I am your obedient and dutiful son,


P. S. Since the date of this, I have bad opportunity to attend

upon another of Mr. BRAINERD's catechetical lectures : and truly I was convinced, that Mr. BRAINERD did not complain before of his people's defects in answering to questions proposed, without reason: for although their answers at that time exceeded my expectations very much; yet their performances at this lecture very much exceeded them.”

4 B


Since this, we have had accounts from time to time, and some very late, which shew that religion still continues in prosperous and most desirable circumstances among these Indians.


Is there not much in the preceding memoirs of Mr. BRAINERD to teach, and excite to duty, us who are called to the work of the ministry, and all that are candidates for that great work? What a deep sense did he seem to have of the greatness and importance of that work, and with what weight did it lie on his mind! How sensible was he of his own insufficiency for this work; and how great was his dependence on God's sufficiency! How solicitous, that he might be fitted for it! and to this end, how much time did he spend in prayer and fasting, as well as reading and meditation; giving himself to these things ! How did he dedicate his whole life, all his powers and talents to God; and forsake and renounce the world, with all its pleasing and ensnaring enjoyments, that he might be wholly at liberty to serve Christ in this work; and to “please him who had chosen him to be a soldier, under the Captain of our salvation! With what solicitude, solemnity, and diligence did he devote himself to God our Saviour, and seek his presence and blessing in secret, at the time of his ordination! and how did his whole heart appear to be constantly engaged, his whole time employed, and his whole strength spent in the business he then solemnly undertook and to which he was publicly set apart ! —And his history shews us the right way to success in the work of the ministry. He sought it, as a resolute soldier seeks victory, in a siege or battle; or as a man that runs a race, for a great prize. Animated with love to Christ and souls, how did he “labour always fervently,” not only in word and doctrine, in public and private, but in prayers day and night, “ wrestling with God” in secret, and “ travailing in birth,” with uuutterable groans and agonies, “ until Christ were formed” in the hearts of the people to whom he was sent! how did he thirst for a blessing on his ministry; and “watch for souls, as one that must give account !" how did he .“ go forth in the strength of the Lord God;" seeking and depending on a special influence of the Spirit to assist and succeed him! And what was the happy fruit at last, though after long waiting, and many dark and discouraging appearances ? Like a true son of Jacob, he persevered in wrestling, through all the darkness of the night, until the breaking of the day.

And his example of labouring, praying, denying himself, and enduring hardness, with unfainting resolution and patience, and his faithful, vigilant, and prudent conduct in many other respects, (which it would be too long now particularly to recite) may afford instruction to missionaries in particular.


The foregoing account of Mr. BRAINERD's life may afford instruction to Christians in general; as it shews, in many respects, the right way of practising religion, in order to obtain the ends, and receive the benefits of it; or how Christians should “run the race set before them,” if they would not “run in vain, or run as uncertainly,” but would honour God in the world, adorn their profession, be serviceable to mankind, have the comforts of religion while they live, be free from disquieting doubts and dark apprehensions about the state of their souls; enjoy peace in the approaches of death, and “ finish their course with joy.”—In general, he much recommended, for this purpose, the redemption of time, great diligence in the business of the Christian life, watchfulness, &c. And he very remarkably exemplified these things.

But particularly, his example and success with regard to one duty, in an especial manner, may be of great use to both ministers and private Christians; I mean the duty of secret fasting. The reader has seen, how much Mr. BRAINERD recommends this duty, and how frequently he exercised himself in it; nor can it well have escaped observation, how much he was owned and blessed in it, and of what great benefit it evidently was to his soul. Among all the many days he spent in secret fasting and prayer, that he gives an account of in his diary, there is scarce an instance of one, but what was either attended or soon followed with apparent success, and a remarkable blessing, in special incomes and consolations of God's Spirit; and very often, before the day was ended.-But it must be observed, that when he set about this duty, he did it in good earnest; “ stirring up himself to take hold of God," and “ continuing instant in prayer," with much of the spirit of Jacob, who said to the angel, “ I will not let thee go, except “thou bless me."


There is much in the preceding account to excite and encourage God's people to earnest prayers and endeavours for the advancement and enlargement of the kingdom of Christ in the world. Mr. BRAINERD set us an excellent example in this respect; he sought the prosperity of Zion with all his might; he preferred Jerusalem above his chief joy. How did his soul long for it, and pant after it! and how earnestly and often did he wrestle with God for it! and how far did he, in these desires and prayers, seem to be carried beyond all private and selfish views! being animated by a pure love to Christ, an earnest desire of his glory, and a disinterested affection to the souls of mankind.

The consideration of this, not only ought to be an incito ment to the people of God, but may also be a just encouragement to them, to be much in seeking and praying for a general outpouring of the Spirit of God, and extensive revival of religion. I confess, that God giving so much of a spirit of prayer for this mercy to so eminent a servant of his, and exciting him, in so extraordinary a manoer, and with such vehement thirstings of soul, to agonize in prayer for it, from time to time, through the course of his life, is one thing, among others, which gives me great hope, that God has a design of accomplishing something very glorious for the interest of his church before long. One such instance as this, I conceive, gives more encouragement, than the common, cold, formal prayers of thousands. As Mr. BRAINERD's desires and prayers for the coming of Christ's kingdom, were very special and extraordinary ; so, I think, we may reasonably hope, that the God who excited those desires and prayers, will answer them with something special and extraordinary. And in a particular manner do I think it worthy of notice for our encouragement, that he had his heart (as he declared) unusually drawn out in longings and prayers for the flourishing of Christ's kingdom on earth, when he was in the approaches of death ; and that with his dying breath he breathed out his departing soul into the bosom of his Redeemer, in prayers and pantings after this glorious event; expiring in very great hope, that it would soon begin to be fulfilled. And I wish, that the thoughts which he in his dying state expressed of that explicit agree. ment, and visible union of God's people, in extraordinary prayer for a general revival of religion, lately proposed in a

« AnteriorContinuar »