« PrejšnjaNaprej »
account of what passed from day to day, for the next thirteen months, from the latter end of Jan. 1741, forementioned, in two small books, which he called the two first volumes of his diary, next following the account before given of his convictions, conversion, and consequent comforts; yet, when he lay on his death-bed, he gave orders (unknown to me till after his death) that these two volumes should be destroyed; and in the beginning of the third book of his diary, he wrote thus, (by the hand of another, he not being able to write himself,) "The two preceding volumes, immediately following the account of the author's conversion, are lost. If any are desirous to know how the author lived, in general, during that space of time, let. them read the first thirty pages of this volume; where they will find somewhat of a specimen of his ordinary manner of living, through that whole space of time, which was about thirteen months; except that here he was more refined from some imprudences and indecent heats, than there; but the spirit of devotion running through the whole, was the same.”
It could not be otherwise than that one whose heart had been so prepared and drawn to God, as BRAINERD'S had been, should be mightily enlarged, animated, and engaged at the sight of such an alteration made in the college, the town, and country; and so great an appearance of men reforming their lives, and turning from their profaneness and immorality, to seriousness and concern for their salvation, and of religion reviving and flourishing almost every where. But as an intemperate imprudent zeal, and a degree of enthusiasm soon crept in, and mingled itself with that revival of religion; and so great and general an awakening being quite a new thing in the land, at least as to all the living inhabitants of it; neither people nor ministers had learned thoroughly to distinguish between solid religion and its delusive counterfeits. Even many ministers of the gospel, of long standing and the best reputation, were for a time overpowered with the glaring appearances of the latter; and therefore, surely it was not to be wondered at, that young BRAINERD, but a sophomore at college, should be so; who was not only young in years, but very young in religion and experience. He had enjoyed but little advantage for the study of divinity, and still less for observing the circumstances and events of such an extraordinary state of things. To think it strange, a man must divest himself of all reason. In these disadvantageous circumstances, BRAINERD had the unhappiness to have a tincture of that intemperate, indiscreet zeal, which was at that time too prevalent; and was led, from his high opinion of others whom he looked upon as better than himself, into such errors as were really contrary to the habitual temper of his mind. One instance of his misconduct at that time, gave great offence to the rulers of the college, even to that degree
that they expelled him the society; which it is necessary should be here particularly related, with its circumstances.
During the awakening at college, there were several religious students who associated together for mutual conversation and assistance in spiritual things. These were wont freely to open themselves one to another, as special and intimate friends; BRAINERD was one of this company. And it once happened, that he and two or three more of these intimate friends were in the hall together, after Mr. Whittelsey, one of the tutors, had engaged in prayer with the scholars; no other person now remaining in the hall but BRAINERD and his companions. Mr. Whittelsey having been unusually pathetic in his prayer, one of BRAINERD's friends on this occasion asked him what he thought of Mr. Whittelsey; he made answer, "He has no more grace than this chair." One of the freshmen happening at that time to be near the hall, (though not in the room,) over-heard these words. This person, though he heard no name mentioned, and knew not who was thus censured, informed a certain woman in the town, withal telling her his own suspicion, viz. that he believed BRAINERD said this of some one or other of the rulers of the college. Whereupon she went and informed the Rector, who sent for this freshman and examined him. He told the Rector the words which he heard BRAINERD utter; and informed him who were in the room with him at that time. Upon this the Rector sent for them. They were very backward to inform against their friend respecting what they looked upon as private conversation; especially as none but they had heard or knew of whom he had uttered those words; yet the Rector compelled them to declare what he said, and of whom he said it.-BRAINERD looked on himself as very ill used in the management of this affair; and thought that it was injuriously extorted from his friends, and then injuriously required of him-as if he had been guilty of some open, notorious crime to make a public confession, and to humble himself before the whole college in the hall, for what he had said only in private conversation.--He not complying with this demand, and having gone once to the separate meeting at New-Haven, when forbidden by the Rector; and also having been accused by one person of saying concerning the Rector," that he wondered he did not expect to drop down dead for fining the scholars who followed Mr. Tennent to Milford, though there was no proof of it; (and BRAINERD ever professed that he did not remember his saying any thing to that purpose ;) for these things he was expelled the college.
How far the circumstances and exigencies of that day might justify such great severity in the governors of the college, I will not undertake to determine; it being my aim, not to bring reproach on the authority of the college, but only to do justice
to the memory of a person, who was I think, eminently one of those whose memory is blessed.-The reader will see, in the sequel of the story of BRAINERD's life,* what his own thoughts afterwards were of his behaviour in these things, and in how Christian a manner he conducted himself, with respect to this affair; though he ever, as long as he lived, supposed himself ill used in the management of it, and in what he suffered.-His expulsion was in the winter, 1742, while in his third year at college.
*Particularly under the date, Sept. 14, 1743.
From about the time when he began the study of Theology, to his Licensure.
In the Spring of 1742, BRAINERD went to live with the Rev. Mr. Mills of Ripton, to pursue his studies with him, for the work of the ministry. Here he spent the greater part of the time until the Association licensed him to preach; but frequently rode to visit the neighbouring ministers, particularly Mr. Čooke of Stratford, Mr. Graham of Southbury, and Mr. Bellamy of Bethlehem. While with Mr. Mills, he began the third book of his diary in which the account he wrote of himself, is as follows:
April 1, 1742. "I seem to be declining, with respect to my life and warmth in divine things; and have had not so free access to God in prayer, as usual of late. Oh that God would humble me deeply in the dust before him! I deserve hell every day, for not loving my Lord more, who has, I trust, loved me and given himself for me; and every time I am enabled to exercise any grace renewedly, I am renewedly indebted to the God of all grace for special assistance. Where then is boasting? Surely it is excluded, when we think how we are dependent on God for the existence and every act of grace. O if ever I get to heaven, it will be because God pleases and nothing else; for I never did any thing of myself, but get away from God! My soul will be astonished at the unsearchable riches of divine grace, when I arrive at the mansions, which the blessed Saviour is gone before to prepare.
April 2. "In the afternoon, I felt in secret prayer, much resigned, calm and serene. What are all the storms of this lower world, if Jesus by his spirit does but come walking on the seas! Sometime past, I had much pleasure in the prospect of the Heathen being brought home to Christ, and desired that the Lord would employ me in that work: but now my soul more frequently desires to die, to be with Christ. Oh that my soul were wrapt up in divine love, and my longing desires after God increased! In the evening, was refreshed in prayer, with the hopes of the advancement of Christ's kingdom in the world.
April 3. "Was very much amiss this morning, and had a bad night. I thought, if God would take me to himself now, my soul would exceedingly rejoice. Oh that I may be always
humble and resigned to God, and that he would cause my soul to be more fixed on himself, that I may be more fitted both for doing and suffering.
Lord's day, April 4. My heart was wandering and lifeless. In the evening God gave me faith in prayer, made my soul melt in some measure, and gave me to taste a divine sweetness. O my blessed God! Let me climb up near to him, and love, and long, and plead, and wrestle, and stretch after him, and for deliverance from the body of sin and death.Alas! my soul mourned to think I should ever lose sight of its beloved again. "O come, Lord Jesus, Amen."
On the evening of the next day, he complains, that he seemed to be void of all relish of divine things, felt much of the prevalence of corruption, and saw in himself a disposition to all manner of sin; which brought a very great gloom on his mind, and cast him down into the depths of melancholy; so that he speaks of himself as amazed, having no comfort, but filled with horror, seeing no comfort in heaven or earth.
April 6. "I walked out this morning to the same place where I was last night, and felt as I did then; but was somewhat relieved by reading some passages in my diary, and seemed to feel as if I might pray to the great God again with freedom; but was suddenly struck with a damp, from the sense I had of my own vileness.-Then I cried to God to cleanse me from my exceeding filthiness, to give me repentance and pardon. I then began to find it sweet to pray; and could think of undergoing the greatest sufferings in the cause of Christ, with pleasure; and found myself willing, if God should so order it, to suffer banishment from my native land, among the Heathen, that I might do something for their salvation, in distresses and deaths of any kind.-Then God gave me to wrestle earnestly for others, for the kingdom of Christ in the world, and for dear Christian friends.-I felt weaned from the world, and from my own reputation amongst men, willing to be despised, and to be a gazing stock for the world to behold.-It is impossible for me to express how I then felt: I had not much joy, but some sense of the majesty of God, which made me as it were tremble. I saw myself mean and vile, which made me more willing that God should do what he would with me; it was all infinitely reasonable.
April 7. "I had not so much fervency, but felt somewhat as I did yesterday morning, in prayer.-At noon I spent some time in secret, with some fervency, but scarce any sweetness; and felt very dull in the evening.
April 8. "Had raised hopes to-day respecting the Heathen. Oh that God would bring in great numbers of them to Jesus