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of his present vileness and pollution. He was not only disposed to think meanly of himself as before God, and in comparison of him ; but amongst men, and as compared with them. He was apt to think other saints better than he; yea, to look on himself as the meanest and least of saints; yea, very often, as the vilest and worst of mankind. And notwithstanding his great attainments in spiritual knowledge, yet we find there is scarce any thing, with a sense of which he is more frequently affected and abased, than his ignorance.
How eminently did he appear to be of a meek and quiet spirit, resembling the lamb-like, dove-like Spirit of Jesus Christ! How full of love, meekness, quietness, forgiveness, and mercy! His love was not merely a tondness and zeal for a party, but an universal benevolence; very often exercised in the most sensible and ardent love to his greatest opposers and enemies. His love and meekness were not a mere pretence, and outward profession and shew; but they were effectual things, manifested in expensive and painful deeds of love and kindness; and in a meek behaviour; readily confessing faults under the greatest trials, and humbling bimself even at the feet of those from whom he supposed he had suffered most; and from time to time very frequently praying for his enemies, abhorring the thoughts of bitterness or resentment towards them. I scarcely know where to look for any parallel instance of self-denial, in these respects, in the present age. He was a person of great zeal; but how did lie abhor a bitter zeal, and lainent it where he saw it! And though he was once drawn into some degrees of it, by the force of prevailing example, as it were in his childhood ; yet how did he go about with a heart bruised and broken in pieces for it all his life after !
Of how soft and tender a spirit was he! How far were his experiences, hopes, and joys, from a tendency finally to stupify and harden him, to lessen convictions and tenderness of conscience, to cause him to be less affected with present and past sins, and less consciensious with respect to future sins. How far were they from making him more easy, in neglect of duties that are troublesome and inconvenient, more slow and partial in complying with difficult commands, less apt to be alarmed at the appearance of his own defects and transgressions, wore easily induced to a compliance with carnal appetites ! On the contrary, how tender was his conscience! how apt was his heart to smite hiin! how easily and greatly was he alarmed at the appearance of moral evil! bow great and constant was bis jealousy over his own heart! how strict his care and watchfulness against sin ! how deep and sensible were the wounds that sin made in his conscience! Those evils that are generally accounted small, were almost an insupportable burden to him; such as his inward deficiencies, his having no more love to God, finding within himself any slackness or dulness in religion, any unsteadiness, or wandering frame of mind, &c. how did the consideration of such things as these oppress and abase him, and fill him with inward shame and confusion! His love and hope, though they were such as cast out a servile fear of hell, yet were attended with, and abundantly cherished and promoted a reverential filial fear of God, a dread of sin and of God's holy displeasure. His joy seemed truly to be a rejoicing with trembling. His assurance and comfort differed greatly from a false enthusiastic confidence and joy, in that it promoted and maintained mourning for sin. Holy mourning, with him, was not only the work of an hour or a day, at his first conversion ; but sorrow for sin was like a wound constantly running; he was a mourner for sin all his days. He did not, after he received comfort and full satisfaction of the forgiveness of all his sins, and the safety of his state, forget his past sins, the sins of his youth, comınitted before his conversion; but the remembrance of them, from time to time, revived in his heart, with renewed grief. That passage (Ezek. xvi. 63.) was evidently fulfilled in him, " That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more, because of thy shame; when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done.” And how lastingly did the sins he committed after his conversion afect and break his heart! If he did any thing whereby be thought he had in any respect dishonoured God, and wounded the interest of religion, he had never done with calling it to mind with sorrow and bitterness; though he was assured that God had forgiven it, yet he never forgave himself: his past sorrows and fears made no satisfaction, with him; but still the wound renews and bleeds afresh, again and again. And his present sins, those be daily found in himself, were an occasion of daily sensible and deep sorrow of heart.
His religion did not consist in unaccountable nights and vehement pangs; suddenly rising, and suddenly falling; at times exalted almost to the third heavens, and then negligent, * vain, carnal, and swallowed up with the world, for days and weeks, if not months together. His religion was not like a blazing meteor, or like a flaming comet, (or a wandering star, as the apostle Jude calls it, ver. 13.) flying through the firmament with a bright train, and then quickly departing into perfect darkness; but more like the steady lights of heaven, constant principles of light, though sometimes hid with clouds. Nor like a land-flood, which flows far and wide with a rapid stream, bearing down all before it, and then dries up; but more like a stream, fed by living springs; which though sometimes increased by showers, and at other times diminished by drought, yet is a constant stream.
His religious affections and joys were not like those of some, who have rapture and mighty emotions from time to time in company; but have very little affection in retirement and secret places. Though he was of a very sociable temper, and loved the company of saints, and delighted very much in religious conversation, and in social worship; yet his warmest affections, and their greatest effects on animal nature, and his sweetest joys, were in his closet devotions, and solitary transactions between God and his own soul : as is very observable through his whole course, from his conversion to his death. He delighted greatly in sacred retirements; and loved to get quite away from all the world, to conversie with God alone, in secret duties.
Mr. BrainerD's experiences and comforts were very far from being like those of some persons, which are attended with a spiritual satiety, and which put an end to their religious desires and longings, at least to the edge and ardency of them; resting satisfied in their own attainments and comforts, as having obtained their chief end, which is to extinguish their fears of hell, and give them confidence of the favour of God. How far were his religious affections, refreshments, and satisfactions, from such an operation and influence! On the contrary, how were they always attended with longiugs and thirstings after greater degrees of conformity to God! And the greater and sweeter his comforts were, the more vehement were his desires after holiness. For it is to be observed, that his longings were not so much after joyful discoveries of God's love, and clear views of his title to future advancement and eternal honours in heaven; as after more of present boliness, greater spirituality, an heart more engaged for God, to love, and exalt, and depend on him. His longings were for ability to serve God better, to do more for his glory, and to do all that he did with more of a regard to Christ as bis righteous- ness and strength; and after the enlargement and advance:ment of Christ's kingdom in the earth. And his desires were not idle wishings, but such as were powerful and effectual, to animate him to the earnest, eager pursuit of these things, with
utmost diligence and unfainting labour and self-denial. His comforts never put an end to his seeking after God, and striving to obtain his grace; but, on the contrary, greatly engaged him therein.
His religion did not consist in experience without practice. All his inward illuminations, affections, and comforts, seemed to have a direct tendency to practice, and to issue in it: and this, not merely a practice negatively good, free from gross acts of irreligion and immorality ; but a practice positively holy and Christian, in a serious, devout, humble, meek, merciful, charitable, and beneficent conversation ; making the service of God, and our Lord Jesus Christ, the great business of life, to which he was devoted, and which he pursued with the greatest earnestness and diligence to the end of his days, through all trials. In him was to be seen the right way of being lively in religion. His liveliness in religion did not consist merely, or mainly, in his being lively with the tongue, but in deed; not in being forward in profession and outward shew, and abundant in declaring his own experiences; but chiefly in being active and abundant in the labours and duties of religion; “not slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, and serving his generation, according to the will of God.”
By these things, many bigh pretenders to religion, and professors of extraordinary spiritual experience, may be sensible, that Mr. BRAINERD did greatly condemn their kind of religion; and that not only in word, but by example, both lia ving and dying; as the whole series of his Christian experience and practice, from his conversion to his death, appears a constant condemnation of it.
It cannot be objected, that the reason why he so much disliked the religion of these pretenders, and why his own so much differed from it, was, that his experiences were not clear. There is no room to say, they were otherwise, in any respect, in which clearness of experience has been wont to be insisted on; whether it be the clearness of their nature or of their order, and the method his soul was at first brought to rest and confort in his conversion. I am far from thinking, and so was he, that clearness of the order of experiences is, in any measure, of equal importance with the clearness of their nature. I have sufficiently declared in my discourse on
religious affections, (which he expressly approved of and recommended), that I do not suppose, a sensible distinctness of the steps of the Spirit's operation and method of successive convictions and illuminations, is a necessary requisite to persons being received in full charity, as true saints; provided the nature of the things they profess be right, and their practice agreeable. Nevertheless, it is observable, (which cuts off all objection from such as would be most unreasonably disposed to object and cavil in the present case) that Mr. BRAINERD's experiences were not only clear in the latter respect, but remarkably so in the former: so that there is not perhaps one instance in five hundred true converts, that on this account can be paralleled with him.
It cannot be pretended, that the reason why he so much abhorred and condemned the notions and experiences of those whose first faith consists in believing that Christ is theirs, and that Christ died for them; without any previous experience of union of heart to him, for his excellency, as he is in himself, and not for his supposed love to them-and who judge of their interest in Christ, their justification, and God's love to them, not by their sanctification, and the exercises and fruits of grace, but by a supposed immediate witness of the Spirit, by inward suggestion—was, that he was of a too legal spirit; either that he never was dead to the law, never experienced a thorough work of conviction, was never fully brought off from his own rigliteousness, and weaned from the old covenant, by a thorough legal humiliation; or that afterwards, he had no great degree of evangelical humiliation, not living in a deep sense of his own emptiness, wretchedness, poverty, and absolute dependence on the mere grace of God through Christ.
For his convictions of sin, preceding his first consolations in Christ, were exceeding deep and thorougb; bis trouble and exercise of mind, by a sense of sin and misery, very great, and long, continued; and the light let into his mind at his conversion, and in progressive sanctification, appears to have had its genuine humbling influence upon him, to have kept him low in his own eyes, not confiding in himself, but in Christ,“ living by the faith of the Son of God, and looking for the mercy of the Lord Jesus to eternal life.”
Nor can it be pretended, that the reason why he condemned these, and other things, which this sort of people call the very height of vital religion and the power of godliness, was, that he was a dead Christian, and lived in the dark, as they