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express themselves); that his experiences, though they might be true, were not great; that he did not live near to God, had but a small acquaintance with him, and had but a dim sight of spiritual things. If any, after they have read the preceding account of Mr. BRAINERD's life, will venture to pretend thus, they will only shew that they themselves are in the dark, and do indeed “ put darkness for light, and light for darkness.”
It is common with this sort of people, if there are any whom they cannot deny to exhibit good evidences of true godliness, who yet appear to dislike their notions and who condemn those things wherein they place the height of religion—to insinuate, that they are afraid of the cross, and have a mind to curry favour with the world, and the like. But I presume this will not be pretended concerning Mr. BRAINERD, by any one person that has read the preceding account of his life. It must needs appear a thing notorious to such, that he was an extraordinary, and almost unparalleled instance (in these times, and these parts of the world) of the contrary disposition; and that, whether we consider what he has recorded of his inward experience, from time to time; or his practice, how he in fact took up and embraced the cross, and bore it constantly, in his great self-denials, labours, and sufferings for the name of Jesus, and went on without fainting, without repining, to his dying illness: how he did not only, from time to time, relinquish and renounce the world secretly, in his heart, with the full and fervent consent of all the powers of his soul; but openly and actually forsook the world, with its possessions, delights, and common comforts, to dwell as it were with wild beasts, in a howling wilderness; with constant cheerfulness, complying with the numerous hardships of a life of toil and travel there, to promote the kingdom of his dear Redeemer. Besides, it appears by the preceding history, that he never did more condemn the things forementioned, never had a greater sense of their delusion, pernicious nature, and ill tendency, and never was more full of pity to those that are led away with them, than in his last illness, and at times when he had the nearest prospect of death, supposed himself to be on the very brink of eternity. Surely he did not condemn those things at these seasons, only to curry favour with the world.
Besides what has been already related of Mr. BRAINERD'S sentiments in his dying state concerning true and false religion, we have his deliberate and solemn thoughts on this subject, further appearing by his preface to Mr. SHEPARD's diary, before mentioned; which, when he wrote it, he supposed to be (as it proved) one of the last things he should ever write. I shall here insert a part of that preface as follows:
“ How much stress is laid by many upon sone things as being effects and evidences of exalted degrees of religion, when they are so far from being of any importance in it, that they are really irreligious, a mixture of self-love, imagination, and spiritual pride, or perhaps the influence of Satan transformed into an angel of light; I say, how much stress is laid on these things by many, I shall not determine: but it is much to be feared, that while God was carrying on a glorious work of grace, and undoubtedly gathering a harvest of souls to himself, (which we should always remember with thankfulness), numbers of others have at the same time been fatally deluded by the devices of the devil, and their own corrupt bearts. It is to be feared, that the conversions of some have no better foundation than this; viz. that after they have been under some concern for their souls for a while, and it may be manifested some very great and uncommon distress and agonies, they have on a sudden imagined they saw Christ, in some posture or other, perhaps on the cross, bleeding and dying for their sins; or it may be, smiling on them, and thereby signifying his love to them: and that these and the like things, though mere imaginations, which have nothing spiritual in them, have instantly removed all their fears and distresses, filled them with raptures of joy, and made them imagine, that they loved Christ with all their hearts; when the bottom of all was nothing but self-love. For when they imagined that Christ had been so good to them as to save them, and as it were to single them out of all the world, they could not but feel some kind of natural gratitude to him; although they never had any spiritual view of his divine glory, excellency, and beauty, and consequently never had any love to him for himself. Or that instead of having some such imaginary view of Christ as has been mentioned, in order to remove their distress, and give them joy, some having had a passage, or perhaps many passages of scripture brought to their minds with power, (as they
express it) such as that, “ Son, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee,” and the like, they have immediately applied these passages to themselves, supposing that God hereby manifested his peculiar favour to them, as if mentioned by name: never considering, that they are now giving heed to new revelations, there being no such thing revealed in the word of God, as that this or that particular person has, or ever shall have his sins forgiven; nor yet remembering, that Satan can, with a great deal of seeming pertinency, (and perhaps also with considerable power), bring scripture to the minds of men, as he did to Christ himself. And thus these rejoice upon having some scripture suddenly suggested to them, or impressed upon their minds, supposing they are now the children of God, just as did the other upon their imaginary views of Christ. And it is said, that some speak of seeing a great light which filled all the place where they were, and dispelled all their darkness, fears, and distresses, and almost ravished their souls. While others have had it warmly suggested to their minds, not by any passage of scripture, but as it were by a whisper or voice from heaven, “ That God loves them, that Christ is theirs," &c. which groundless imaginations and suggestions of Satan have had the same effect upon them, that the delusions before mentioned had on the others. And as is the conversion of this sort of persons, so are their after experiences; the whole being built upon imagination, strong impressions, and sudden suggestions made to their minds; whence they are usually extremely confident (as if immediately informed from God) not only of the goodness of their own state, but of their infallible knowledge, and absolute certainty, of the truth of every thing they pretend to, under the notion of religions and thus all reasoning with some of them is utterly excluded.
" But it is remarkable of these, that they are extremely deficient in regard of true poverty of spirit, a sense of exceeding vileness in themselves, such as frequently makes truly gracious souls to groun, being burdened ; as also in regard of meekness, love, gentleness towards mankind, and tenderness of conscience in their ordinary affairs and dealings in the world. And it is rare to see them deeply concerned about the principles and ends of their actions, and under fears lest they should not eye the glory of God chiefly, but live to themselves; or this at least is the case in their ordinary conduct, whether civil or religious. But if any one of their particular notions, which their zeal bas espoused, be attacked, they are then sa conscientious, they must burn, if called to it, for its defence. Yet, at the same time, when they are so extremely deficient in regard of these precious divine tempers which have been mentioned, they are usually full of zeal, concern, and fervency in the things of religion, and often discourse of them with much warmth and engagement: and to those who do not know, or do not consider, wherein the essence of true religion consists—v.z. in being conformed to the image of Christ, not in point of zeal and fervency only, but in all divine tempers and practices—they often appear like the best of men.”
It is common with this sort of people to say, that “God is amongst them, his Spirit accompanies their exhortations, and other administrations, and they are sealed by the Holy Ghost," in the remarkable success they have, in the great affections that are stirred up in God's people, &c. but to insinuate on the contrary, that “he is not with their opponents;" and particularly, " that God has forsaken the standing ministry; and that the time is come, when it is the will of God that they should be put down, and that God's people should forsake them; and that no more success is to be expected to attend their administrations."-But where can they find an instance, among all their most faming exhorters, who has been sealed with so incontestable and wonderful success of his labours, as Mr. BRAINERD, not only in quickening and comforting God's children, but also in a work of conviction and conversion, (which they own has in a great measure ceased for a long time among themselves), with a most visible and astonishing manifestation of God's power? And this was on subjects extremely unprepared, and who had been brought up and lived, some of them to old age, in the deepest prejudices against the very first principles of Christianity; and yet we find the divine power accompanying his labours, producing the most remarkable and and abiding change, turning the wilderness into a fruitful field, and causing that which was a desart indeed to bud and blossom as the rose ? And this, although he was not only one of their greatest opponents in their errors; but also one of those they call the standing ministry; first examined and licensed to preach by such ministers, and sent forth among the Heathen by such ministers; and afterwards ordained by such ministers; always directed by them, and united with them in their consistories, and administrations : and even abhorring the practice of those who give out, that they ought to be renounced, and separated from, and that teachers may be ordained by lay men.
It cannot be pretended by these men, that Mr. BRAINERD
.condemned their religion, only because he was not acquainted with them, and had not opportunity for full observation of the nature, operation, and tendency of their experiences : for he had abundant and peculiar opportunities of such observation and acquaintance. He lived through the late extraordinary time of religious commotion, and saw the beginning and end, the good and the bad of it. He had opportunity to see the various operations and effects that were wrought in this season, more extensively than any person I know of. His native place was about the middle of Connecticut; and he was much conversant in all parts of that colony. He was conversant in the eastern parts of it, after the religion which he condemned began much to prevail there. He was conversant with the zealous people on Long-Island, from one end of the island to the other; and also in New-Jersey and Pensylvania ; with people of various nations. He had special opportunities in some places in this province, (Massachusets Bay), where there has been very much of this sort of religion, and at a time when it greatly prevailed. He had conversed and disputed with abundance of this kind of people in various parts, as he told me; and also informed me, that he had seen something of the same appearances in some of the Indians, to whom he had preached, and had opportunity to see the beginning and end of them. Besides, Mr. BRAINERD could speak more feelingly concerning these things, because there was once a time when be was drawn away into an esteem of them, and for a short season had united himself to this kind of people, and partook, in some respects, of their spirit and behaviour.—But I proceed to another observation on the foregoing memoirs.
This history of Mr. BRAINERD's may help us to make distinctions among the high religious affections, and remarkable impressions made on the minds of persons, in a time of great awakening, and revival of religion; and may convince us, that there are not only distinctions in theory, invented to save the credit of pretended revivals of religion, and what is called the experience of the operations of the Spirit; but distinctions that do actually take place in the course of events, and have a real and evident foundation in fact.
Many do and will confound things, blend all together, and say, " It is all alike; it is all of the same sort.” So there are