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America, to exert themselves for upholding and promoting the good and glorious work, remarkably opening their hearts and hands to that end: and not only in America, but in Great Britain, that Journal, which I have earnestly recommended to my readers, has been an occasion of some large benefactions, made for promoting the interest of Christianity among the Indians.If BRAINERD had been taken ill but a little sooner, he had not been able to complete his Journal, and prepare a copy for the press.
He was not taken off from the work of the ministry among his people, till his brother was in a capacity and circumstances to succeed him in his care of them; who succeeds him in the like spirit, and under whose prudent and faithful care his congregation has flourished, and been very happy, since he left them; and probably could not have been so well provided for otherwise. If BRAINERD had been disabled sooner, his brother would by no means have been ready to stand up in his place; having taken his first degree at college but about that very time that he was seized with his fatal consumption.
Though in that winter in which he lay sick at Mr. Dickinson's, in Elizabeth-Town, he continued for a long time in an extremely low state, so that his life was almost despaired of, and his state was sometimes such that it was hardly expected that he would live a day; yet his life was spared a while longer; he lived to see his brother arrived in New-Jersey, being come to succeed him in the care of his Indians; and he himself had opportunity to assist in his examination and introduction into his business: and to commit the conduct of his dear people to one whom he well knew, and could put confidence in, and use freedom with, in giving him particular instructions and charges, and under whose care he could leave his congregation with great cheerfulness.
The providence of God was remarkable in so ordering it, that before his death he should take a journey in New-England, and go to Boston; which was, in many respects, of very great and happy consequence to the interest of religion, and especially among his own people. By this means, as before observed, he was brought in acquaintance with many persons of note and influence, ministers and others, belonging both to the town and various parts of the country; and had opportunity, under the best advantages, to bear a testimony for God and true religion, and against those false appearances of it which have proved most pernicious to the interest of Christ's kingdom in the land. The providence of God is particularly observable in this circumstance of the testimony which he there bore for true religion, viz. that he there was brought so near the grave, and continued for so long a time on the very brink of eternity; and from time to time, looked on himself, and was looked on by others, as just leaving the world; and that in these circumstances he should be so particularly directed and assisted in his thoughts and
views of religion, to distinguish between the true and the false, with such clearness and evidence; and that after this he should be unexpectedly and surprisingly restored and strengthened, so far as to be able to converse freely. Then he had an opportunity, and special occasions to declare the sentiments he had in these, which to human apprehension, were his dying circumstances; and to bear his testimony concerning the nature of true religion, and concerning the mischievous tendency of its most prevalent counterfeits and false appearances; as things he had a special, clear, distinct view of at that time, when he expected in a few minutes to be in eternity; and the certainty and importance of which were then, in a peculiar manner, impressed on his mind.
Among the happy consequences of his going to Boston, were those liberal benefactions that have been mentioned, which were made by piously disposed persons, for maintaining and promoting the interest of religion among his people; and also the meeting of a number of gentlemen in Boston, of note and ability to consult upon measures for that purpose; who were excited by their acquaintance and conversation with BRAINERD, and by the account of the great things which God had wrought by his ministry, to unite themselves, that by their joint endeavours and contributions they might promote the kingdom of Christ, and the spiritual good of their fellow-creatures, among the Indians in New-Jersey; and elsewhere.
It was also remarkable, that BRAINERD should go to Boston at that time, after the honourable commissioners there, of the corporation in London for propagating the gospel in NewEngland and parts adjacent, had received Dr. WILLIAMS' legacy for maintaining two missionaries among the heathen; and at a time when they, having concluded on a mission to the Indians of the Six Nations, were looking out for fit persons to be employed in that important service. This was the occasion of their committing to him the affair of finding and recommending suitable persons; which has proved a successful means of two persons being found and actually appointed to that business, who seem to be well qualified for it, and to have their hearts greatly engaged in it. One of them has been solemnly ordained to that work in Boston, and is now gone forth to one of those tribes, who have appeared well disposed to receive him; it being judged not convenient for the other to go till the next spring, by reason of his bodily infirmity.* These happy consequences of BRAINERD's journey to Boston would have been
*The appointment of these gentlemen to this mission has been hitherto much smiled on by providence; as in other respects, so particularly in wonderfully opening the hearts of many to contribute liberally to so excellent a design. Besides the benefactions in Boston, a number of persons at Northampton, with much cheerfulness, have given about 1601. (old tenor); and a particular person in Springfield has devoted a considerable part of his estate to this interest.
prevented, in case he had died when he was brought so near to death in New-Jersey. Or, if after he came to Northampton, where he was much at a loss, and long deliberating, which way to bend his course,) he had determined not to go to Boston.
The providence of God was observable in his going to Boston at a time when not only the honourable commissioners were seeking missionaries to the Six Nations, but also just after his Journal, which gives an account of his labours and success among the Indians had been received and spread in Boston. His name was thus known, and the minds of serious people were well prepared to receive his person, and the testimony he there gave for God; to exert themselves for the upholding and promoting the interest of religion in his congregation, and among the Indians elsewhere; and to regard his judgment concerning the qualifications of missionaries. If he had gone there the fall before, (when he had intended to make his journey into New-England, but was prevented by a sudden great increase of his illness;) or if he had not been unexpectedly detained in Boston; (for when he went from my house, he intended to make but a very short stay there,) it would not probably have been in any measure to so good effect; but divine providence, by his being brought so low there, detained him long; thereby to make way for the fulfilling his own gracious designs.
The providence of God was remarkable in so ordering, that although he was brought so very near the grave in Boston, that it was not in the least expected he would ever come alive out of his chamber; yet he was wonderfully revived, and preserved several months longer; so that he had opportunity to see, and fully to converse with both his younger brothers before he died. This he greatly desired; especially to see his brother John, with whom was left the care of his congregation; that he might by him be fully informed of their state, and leave with him such instructions and directions as were requisite in order to their spiritual welfare; and send to them his dying charge, and counsels. He had also opportunity, by means of this suspension of of his death, to find and recommend two persons fit to be employed as missionaries to the Six Nations, as had been desired of him.
Thus, although it was the pleasure of a sovereign God, that he should be taken away from his congregation, the people, whom he had begotten through the gospel, who were so dear to him; yet it was granted him, that before he died he should see them well provided for, every way. He saw them provided for, with one to instruct them, and to take care of their souls; his own brother, in whom he could confide. He saw a good foundation laid for the support of the school among them; those things, which before were wanting in order to it, being
supplied. He had the prospect of a charitable society being established, of able and well-disposed persons, who seem to make the spiritual interest of his congregation their own; whereby he had a comfortable view of their being well provided for, for the future. He had also opportunity to leave all his dying charges with his successor in the pastoral care of his people, and by him to send his dying counsels to them. Thus God granted him to see all things happily settled, or in a hopeful way of being so, before his death, with respect to his dear people. And whereas not only his own congregation, but the souls of the Indians in North-America in general, were very dear to him, and he had greatly set his heart on propagating and extending the kingdom of Christ among them; God was pleased to grant him-though not to be the immediate instrument of their instruction and conversion-yet, that before his death, he should see unexpected extraordinary provisions made for this also. It is remarkable, that God not only allowed him to see such provision made for maintaining the interest of religion among his own people, and the propagation of it elsewhere; but honoured him by making him the means or occasion of it. So that it is very probable, although BRAINERD during the last four months of his life, was ordinarily in an extremely weak and low state, very often scarcely able to speak; yet that he was made the instrument or means of much more good in that space of time, than he would have been if well, and in full strength of body. Thus God's power was manifested in his weakness, and the life of Christ was manifested in his mortal flesh.
Another thing, wherein appears the merciful disposal of providence with respect to his death, was, that he did not die in the wilderness, among the savages, at Kaunaumeek, or the Forks of Delaware, or on the Susquehannah ; but in a place where his dying behaviour and speeches might be observed and remembered, and some account given of them for the benefit of survivors; and where care might be taken of him in his sickness, and proper honours done him at his death.
The providence of God is also worthy of remark, in so overruling and ordering the matter, that he did not finally leave absolute orders for the entire suppressing of his private papers; as he had intended and fully resolved, insomuch that all the importunity of his friends could scarce restrain him from doing it, when sick at Boston. One thing relating to this is peculiarly remarkable, that his brother, a little before his death, should come unexpectedly from New-Jersey,and bring his Diary to him, though he had received no such order. Thus he had opportunity of access to these his reserved papers, and of reviewing the same; without which, it appears, he would at last have ordered them to be wholly suppressed; but after this, he the more readily
yielded to the desires of his friends, and was willing to leave them in their hands to be disposed of as they thought might be most for God's glory. By this means, "he, being dead, yet speaketh," in these memoirs of his life, taken from those private writings; whereby it is to be hoped that he may still be as it were the instrument of promoting the interest of religion in this world; the advancement of which he so much desired, and hoped would be accomplished after his death.
If these circumstances of BRAINERD's death be duly considered, I doubt not but they will be acknowledged as a notable instance of God's fatherly care, and covenant-faithfulness towards them who are devoted to him, and faithfully serve him while they live; whereby " he never fails nor forsakes them, but is with them living and dying; so that whether they live, they live to the Lord; or whether they die, they die to the Lord;" and both in life and death they are owned and taken care of as his—BRAINERD himself, as was before observed, was much in taking notice when near his end, of the merciful circumstances of his death; and said, from time to time, that "God had granted him all his desire."
I would not conclude my observations on the merciful circumstances of BRAINERD's death, without acknowledging with thankfulness, the gracious dispensation of providence to me and my family, in so ordering, that he, though the ordinary place of his abode was more than two hundred miles distant, should be brought to my house, in his last sickness, and should die here. Thus we had opportunity for much acquaintance and conversation with him, to show him kindness in such circumstances, to see his dying behaviour, to hear his dying speeches, to receive his dying counsels, and to have the benefit of his dying prayers. May God in infinite mercy grant, that we may ever retain a proper remembrance of these things, and make a due improvement of the advantages we have had, in these respects! The Lord grant also, that the foregoing account of BRAINERD'S life and death may be for the great spiritual benefit of all who shall read it, and prove a happy means of promoting the revival of true religion! Amen.
The reader will not be uninterested in the following letters from Mr. John Brainerd, giving an account of the Indians, after his brother's death.