« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
would be very unreasonable that his error at that time should nevertheless be esteemed a just ground of prejudice against the whole of his religion, and his character in general ; especially considering, how greatly his mind was soon changed, and how exceedingly he afterwards lamented his error, and abhorred himself for his imprudent zeal and misconduct at that time, even to the breaking of his heart, and almost to the overbearing of his natural strength; and how much of a Christian spirit he showed, in condemning himself for that misconduct, as the reader will see.
What has now been mentioned of BRAINERD, is so far from being a just ground of prejudice against what is related in the following account of his life, that, if duly considered, it will render the history the more serviceable. For by his thus joining for a season with enthusiasts, he had a more full and intimate acquaintance with what belonged to that sort of religion ; and so was under better advantages to judge of the difference between that, and what he finally approved, and strove to his utmost to promote, in opposition to it. In his testimony against it, and the spirit and behaviour of those who are influenced by it he also speaks from impartial conviction, and not from prejudice ; because he thus openly condemns his own former opinions and conduct, on account of which he had greatly suffered from his opposers and for which some continued to reproach him as long as he lived.
Another imperfection in BRAINERD, which may be observed in the following account of his life, was his being excessive in his labours ; not taking due care to proportion his fatigues to his strength Indeed, the case was very often such, by the seeming calls of Providence, as made it extremely difficult for him to avoid doing more than his strength would well admit of; yea, his circumstances and the business of his mission among the Indians, were such, that great fatigues and hardships were altogether inevitable. However, he was finally convinced, that he had erred in this matter, and that he ought to have taken more thorough care, and been more resolute to withstand temptation to such degrees of labour as injured his health ; and accordingly warned his brother, who succeeds him in his mission, to be careful to avoid this error.
Besides the imperfections already mentioned, it is readily allowed that there were some imperfections which ran through his whole life, and were mixed with all his religious affections and exercises ; some mixture of what was natural, with that which was spiritual ; as it evermore is in the best saints in this world. Doubtless, natural temper had some influence in the religious exercises and experiences of BRAINERD, as it most apparently had in those of David and Peter, of John and Paul. There was undoubtedly very often some mixture of melancholy with true godly sorrow, and real Christian humility ; some mixture of the natural fire of youth, with his holy zeal for God; and some influence of natural principles, mixed with grace in various other respects, as it ever was and ever will be with the saints, while on this side heaven. Perhaps none were more sensible of BRAINERD's imperfections than himself; or could distinguish more accurately than he, between what was natural, and what was spiritual. It
is easy for the judicious reader to observe, that his graces ripened, that the religious exercises of his heart became more and more pure, and he more and more distinguishing in his judgment, the longer he lived. He had much to teach and purify him, and he failed not to make his advantage.
Notwithstanding all these imperfections, every pious and judicious reader will re dily acknowledge, that what is here set before him, is a remarkable instance of true and eminent piety, in heart and practice-tending greatly to confirm the reality of vital religion, and the power of godliness ;—that it is most worthy of imitation, and in many ways calculated to promote the spiritual benefit of the careful observer.
The reader should be aware, that what BRAINERD wrote in his diary out of which the following account of his life is chiefly taken, was written only for his own private use ; and not to obtain honour and applause in the world, nor with any design that the world should ever see it, either while he lived, or after his death ; except a few things which he wrote in a dying state, after he had been persuaded, with difficulty, not entirely to suppress all his private writings. He showed himself almost invincibly averse to the publishing of any part of his diary after his death ; and when he was thought to be dying at Boston, gave the most strict, peremptory orders to the contrary. But being by some of his friends there, prevailed upon to withdraw so strict and absolute a prohibition, he was finally pleased to yield so far, as that • his papers should be left in my hands, that I might dispose of them as I thought would be most for God's glory, and the interest of religion.”
But a few days before his death, he ordered some part of his diary to be destroyed, which renders the account of his life the less complete. And there are some parts of his diary here, left out for brevity's sake, which would, I am sensible, have been a great advantage to the history, if they had been inserted; particularly the account of his wonderful success among the Indians; which for substance, is the same in his private diary with that which has already been made public. in the journal he kept by order of the society in Scotland, for their information. That account, I am of opinion, would be more entertaining and more profitable, if it were published as it is written in his diary, in connexion with his secret religion, and the inward exercises of his mind, and also with the preceding and following parts of the s'ory of his life. But because that account has been published already, I have therefore omitted that part. However, this defect may in a great measure, be made up to the reader. by the public journal.* But it is time to end this preface, that the reader may be no longer detained from the history itself.
* The extracts in the Journal, are in this edition for the first time incorporated with the rest of the Diary.
From his birth, to the time when he began to study for
DAVID BRAINERD was born April 20, 1718, at Haddam, in Connecticut. His father was Hezekiah Brainerd, Esq. ; one of his Majesty's council for that colony ; who was the son of Daniel Brainerd, Esq. ; a justice of the peace, and a deacon of the Church of Christ in Haddam. His mother was Dorothy Hobart, daughter of the Rev. Jeremiah Hobart; who preached a while at Topsfield, then removed to Hempstead on LongIsland, and afterwards-by reason of numbers turning Quakers, and many others being so irreligious that they would do nothing towards the support of the gospel-settled in the work of the ministry at Haddam ; where he died, in the 85th year of
He went to public worship in the forenoon, and died in his chair between meetings. This Rev. gentleman was a son of the Rev. Peter Hobart; who was, first, minister of the gospel at Hingham, in the county of Norfolk, in England; and owing to the persecution of the Puritans, removed with his family to New-England, and was settled in the ministry at Hingham, in Massachusetts. He had five sons, Joshua, Jeremiah, Gershom, Japheth, and Nehemiah. Joshua was minister at Southold, on Long-Island. Jeremiah was David Brainerd's grandfather. Gershom was minister of Groton, in Connecticut. Japheth was a physician; he went as surgeon of a ship to England, before the time of taking his second degree at college, and designed to go from thence to the East Indies ; but never was heard of more. Nehemiah was fellow of Harvard college, and afterwards minister at Newton in Massachusetts.—The mother of Dorothy Hobart was a daughter of the Rev. Samuel Whiting, minister of the gospel, first at Boston, in Lincolnshire, and afterwards at Lynn in Massachusetts, New England, He had three sons, who were ministers of the gospel.
David BRAINERD was the third son of his parents. They had five sons and four daughters. Their eldest son is HezeVol. X.
kiah Brainerd, Esq. ; a justice of the peace, and for several years past, a representative of the town of Haddam, in the general assembly of Connecticut; the second was the Rev. Nehemiah Brainerd, a worthy minister at Eastbury in Connecticut, who died of a consumption, Nov. 10, 1742; the fourth is Mr. John Brainerd, who succeeds his brother David, as missionary to the Indians, and pastor of the same church of Christian Indians in New Jersey; and the fifth was Israel, lately student at YaleCollege, in New-Haven, who died since his brother David. Mrs. Dorothy Brainerd having lived about five years a widow, died when her son, of whose life I am about to give an account, was about fourteen
years of age: so that in his youth he was left both fatherless and motherless. What account he has given of himself, and his own life, may be seen in what follows. *
“I was from my youth somewhat sober, and inclined to melancholy; but do not remember any thing of conviction of sin, worthy of remark, till I was I believe about seven or eight years of age. Then I became concerned for my soul, and terrified at the thoughts of death ; and was driven to the performance of religious duties; but it appeared a melancholy business, that destroyed my eagerness for play. And though, alas! this religious concern was but short-lived, I sometimes attended secret prayer; and thus lived at “ease in Zion, without God in the world,” and without much concern, as I remember, till I was above thirteen years of age. In the winter of 1732, I was roused out of this carnal security, by I scarce know what means at first; but was much excited by the prevalence of a mortal sickness in Haddam. I was frequent, constant, and somewhat fervent in prayer; and took delight in reading, especially Mr. JANEWAY's Token for children. I felt sometimes much melted in the duties of religion, took great delight in the performance of them, and sometimes hoped that I was converted, or at least in a good and hopeful way for heaven and happiness ; not knowing what conversion was. The Spirit of God at this time proceeded far with me. remarkably dead to the world ; my thoughts were almost wholly employed about my soul's concerns; and I may indeed say, - Almost I was persuaded to be a Christian.” I was also exceedingly distressed and melancholy at the death of my mother, in March, 1732. But afterwards my religious concern began to decline, and by degrees I fell back into a considerable degree of security, though I still attended secret prayer.
* In Mr. BRAINERD's account of himself here, and continued in his Diary, the reader will find a growing interest and pleasure as he proceeds ; in which is beautifully exemplified what the inspired penman declares, “ The path of the just is as the morning light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” And indeed even his diction and style of writing assume a gradual improvement.
* About the 15th of April, 1733, I removed from my father's house to East-Haddam, where I spent four years; but still " without God in the world," though, for the most part, I went a round of secret duty. I was not much addicted to the company and amusements of the young; but this I know, that when I did go into such company, I never returned with so good a conscience as when I went. It always added new guilt, made me afraid to come to the throne of grace, and spoiled those good frames with which I was wont sometimes to please myself.
But, alas ! all my good frames were but self-righteousness, not founded on a desire for the glory of God.
“About the latter end of April, 1737, being full nineteen years of age, I removed to Durham, to work on my farm, and so continued about one year; frequently longing, from mere natural principles, after a liberal education. When about twenty years of age, I applied myself to study; and was now engaged more than ever in the duties of religion. I became very strict and watchful over my thoughts, words, and actions; concluded that I must be sober indeed, because I designed to devote myself to the ministry, and imagined that I did dedicate myself to the Lord.
"Sometime in April, 1738, I went to Mr. Fiske's, and lived with him during his life. I remember he advised me wholly to abandon young company, and associate myself with grave elderly people : which counsel I followed. My manner of life was now wholly regular, and full of religion, such as it was; for I read my Bible more than twice through in less then a year, spent much time every day in prayer and other secret duties, gave great attention to the word preached, and endeavoured to my utmost to retain it. So much concerned was I about religion, that I agreed with some young persons to meet privately on sabbath evenings for religious exercises, and thought myself sincere in these duties; and after our meeting was ended I used to repeat the discourses of the day to myself; recollecting what I could, though sometimes very late at night. I used occasionally on Monday mornings to recollectt he same sermons ; experienced a considerable degree of enjoyment in prayer, and had many thoughts of joining the church. In short, I had a very good outside, and rested entirely on my duties ; though I was not sensible of it.
“ After Mr. Fiske's death, I proceeded in my studies with my brother; was still very constant in religious duties, often wondered at the levity of professors, and lamented their carelessness in religious matters.---Thus I proceeded a considerable length on a self-righteous foundation, and should have been
* Mr. Fiske was the pastor of the church in Haddam.