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REFLECTIONS AND OBSERVATIONS
ON THE PRECEDING
REFLECT. I. W
E have here opportunity, as I apprehend, in a very lively instance, to see the nature of true religion ; and the manner of its operation when exemplified in a high degree and power, ful exercise. Particularly it may be worthy to be observed.
How greatly Mr. BRAINERD's religion differed from that of some pretenders to the experience of a clear work of saving conversion wrought on their hearts; who depending and living on that, settle in a cold, careless, and carnal frame of mind, and in a neglect of thorough, earnest religion, in the stated practices of it. Although his convictions and conversion were in all respects exceeding clear, and very remarkable; yet how far was he from acting as though he thought he had got through his work, when once he had obtained comfort, and satisfaction of his interest in Christ, and title to heaven? On the contrary, that work on his heart, by which he was brought to this, was with him evidently but the beginning of his work, his first entering on the great business of religion and the service of God, his first setting out in his race. His obtaining rest of soul in Christ, after earnest striving to enter in at the strait gate, and being violent to take the kingdom of heaven, he did not look upon as putting an end to any further occasion for striving in religion ; but these were continued still, and maintained constantly, through all changes, to the very end of life. His work was not finished, nor his race ended, till life was ended; agreeable to frequent scripture representations of the Christian life. He continued pressing forward in a constant manaer, forgetting the things that were behind, and reaching forth towards the things that were before. His pains and earnestness in the business of religion were rather increased, than diminished, after he had received comfort and satisfaction concerning the safety of his state. Those divine principles, by which after this he was actuated, love to God, longings and thirstings after holiness, seem to be more effectual to engage him to pains and activity in religion, than fear of hell had been before.
And as his conversion was not the end of his work, or of the course of his diligence and strivings in religion; so neither was it the end of the work of the Spirit of God on his heart: but on the contrary, the beginning of the work ; the beginning of his spiritual discoveries, and holy views; the first dawning of the light, which thenceforth increased more and more; the beginning of his holy affections, his sorrow for sin, his love to God, his rejoicing in Christ Jesus, his longing after holiness. And the powerful operations of the Spirit of God in these things, were carried on from the day of his conversion, in a continued course, to his dying day. His religious experiences, his admiration, bis joy, praise, and flowing affections, did not only bold up to a considerable height for a few days, weeks, or months, at first, while kope and comfort were new things with him; and then gradually dwindle and die away, till they came to almost nothing, and so leave him without any sensible or Temarkable experience of spiritual discoveries, or holy and divine affections, for months together; as it is with many, who after the newness of things is over, soon come to that pass, that it is again with them very much as it used to be before their supposed conversion, with respect to any present views of God's glory, of Christ's excellency, or of the beauty of divine things; and with respect to any present thirstings for God, or ardent outgoings of their souls after divine objects : but only now and then they have a comfortable reflection on past things, and are somewhat affected with them; and so rest easy, thinking all things are well; they have had a good clear work, and their state is safe, and they doubt not but they shall go to heaven when they die. How far otherwise was it with Mr. BRAINERD, then it is with such persons ! His experiences, instead of dying away, were evidently of an increasing nature. His first love, and other holy affections, even at the beginning were