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LETTERS TO HIS FRIENDS.
Mr. Brainerd had a large acquaintance and correspondence, especially in the latter part of his life, and he did much at writing letters to his absent friends; but the most of his acquaintance living at a great distance from me, I have not been able to obtain copies of many that he wrote: however, the greater part of those which I have seen, are such as appear to me of profitable tendency, and worthy of the public view: I have therefore here added a few of his letters.
N. B. Several of these which follow, are not published at large, because some parts of them were concerning particular affairs of a private nature,
To his brother John, then a student at Yale-College, New-Haven. DEAR BROTHER,
Kaunaumeek, April 30, 1743. I SHOULD tell you, “ I long to see you," but that my own experience has taught me, there is no happiness, and plenary satisfaction to be enjoyed, in earthly friends, though ever so near and dear, or in any other enjoyment, that is not God himself. Therefore, if the God of all grace would be pleased graciously to afford us each his presence and grace, that we may perform the work, and endure the trials he calls us to, in a most distressing tiresome wilderness, till we arrive at our journey's end; the local distance, at which we are held from each other at the present, is a matter of no great moment or importance to either of us. But, alas! the presence of God is what I want.--I live in the most lonely melancholy desert, about eighteen miles from Albany; for it was not thought best that I should go to Delaware-river, as I believe I hinted to you in a letter from New-York. I board with a poor Scotchman : his wife can talk scarce any English. My diet consists mostly of hasty-pudding, boiled corn, and bread baked in the ashes, and sometimes a little meat and butter. My lodging is a little heap of strat, laid upon some boards, a little way from the ground; for it is a log-room, without any floor, that I lodge in. My work is exceeding hard and difficult : I travel on foot a mile and half, the worst of ways, almost daily, and back again; for I live so far from my Indians. I have not seen an English person this month.—These and many other circunstances, as uncomfortable, attend me; and yet my spiritual conflicts and distresses so far erceed all these, that I scarce think of them, or hardly mind but that I am entertained in the most sumptuous
The Lord grant that I may learn to “endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ !” As to my success here, I cannot say much as yet: the Indians seem generally kind, and well disposed towards me, and are mostly very attentive to my instructions, and seem willing to be taught further. Two or three, I hope, are under some convictions; but there seems to be little of the special workings of the divine Spirit among them yet; which gives me many a heart-sinking hour. Sometimes I hope, God has abundant blessings in store for them and me; but at other times I am so overwhelmed with distress, that I cannot see how his dealings with me are consistent with covenant love and faithfulness; and I say, “Surely his tender mercies are clean gone for ever."-But however, I see, I needed all this chastisement already: “ It is good for me," that I have endured these trials, and have hitherto little or no apparent success. Do not be discouraged by my distresses. I was under great distress, at Mr. Pomroy's, when I saw you last; but “ God bas been with me of a truth,” since that: he helped me sometimes sweetly at Long-Island, and elsewhere. But let us always remember, that we must through much tribulation enter into God's eternal kingdom of rest and peace. The righteous are scarcely saved : it is an infinite wonder, that we bave well-grounded hopes of being saved at all. For my part, I feel the most vile of any creature living; and I am sure sometimes, there is not such another existing on this side hell.—Now all you can do for me, is, to pray incessantly, that God would make me humble, holy, resigned, and heavenly-minded, by all my trials.--"Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” Let us run, wrestle, and fight that we may win the prize, and obtain that complete happiness, to be “ holy, as God is boly.” So wishing and praying that you may advance in learning and grace, and be fit for special service for God,
To his Brother John, at Yale-College, New Haven.
Kaunaumeek, Dec. 27, 1743. I LONG to see you, and know how you fare in your journey through a world of inexpressible sorrow, where we are compassed about with “vanity, confusion, and vexation of spirit.” I am more weary of life, I think, than ever I was. The whole world appears to me like a huge vacuum, a vast empty space, whence nothing desirable, or at least satisfactory, can possibly be derived; and I long daily to die more and more to it; even though I obtain not that comfort from spiritual things which I earnestly desire. Worldly pleasures, such as flow from greatness, riches, honours, and sensual gratifications, are infinitely worse than none. May the Lord deliver us more and more from these vanities : I have spent most of the fall and winter hitherto in a very weak state of body; and sometimes under pressing inward trials and spiritual conflicts : but “ having obtained help from God, I continue to this day;" and am now something better in health, than I was sometime ago. I find nothing more conducive to a life of Christianity, than a diligent, industrious, and faithful improvement of precious time. Let us then faithfully perform that business, which is allotted to us by divine providence, to the utmost of our bodily strength, and mental vigour. Why should we sink, and grow discouraged, with any particular trials, and perplexities, we are called to encounter in the world ? Death and eternity are just before us; a few tossing billows more will waft us into the world of spirits, and we hope, through infinite grace, into endless pleasures, and uninterrupted rest and peace. Let us then “run with patience the race set before us,” Heb. xii. 1, 2. And Oh that we could depend more upon the living God, and lese Vol. III.