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terms on which it was offered. As he was walking in a retired place on a summer evening in 1739, for purposes of serious meditation, fully convinced of his absolute ruin and entire dependence on God's sovereign grace, a great and wonderful change came over his mind, which seems to have marked the era of the commencement of his spiritual life, or at least of the perceptible operation of the renovated nature. His views of the character of God, of the character and mediation of Christ, and of the office of the Holy Spirit, became clear, elevating, delightful; he breathed a new atmosphere; he lived for new objects; in every action that he performed, he desired to hide himself, that God might be all in all.
Shortly after this stage of his experience, he was admitted, in Sept. 1739, a member of Yale College. The two succeeding years were distinguished by the great revival of religion in New England, in which Whitefield had a prominent agency, and in which the celebrated Davenport rendered himself so conspicuous by his erratic and fanatical movements. The extravagances which prevailed in connection with the revival, had the effect, as was to be expected, of driving a portion of the religious community to the opposite extreme; and Yale College, with President Clap at its head, seems to have been thrown into this undesirable attitude. Hence the religious atmosphere about the college was cold; everything like fervor of spirit was frowned upon as having in it the elements of fanaticism; and the government even went so far as to enact severe penalties against those students who should be heard of at a "new light" meeting. Brainerd, from the natural warmth of his temper, as well as from his deep sense of the importance of eternal things, was inclined to sympathize with the more zealous party, and looked upon this procedure of the government as an unreasonable and tyrannical infringement of his liberty; and he attended the "separate" meeting without any regard to the offensive enactment. About the same time, he was partly overheard to say, in conversation with several of his fellow students, in respect to one of the tutors, that he did not believe that he had any more religion than the chair on which he sat. The individuals with whom he was conversing, having been required by the Rector to state the conversation, Brainerd was ordered to make a public confession of his fault in the chapel. But so fully was he convinced that the requirement was unreasonable and vindictive, that he refused to submit to it; and in
consequence of this, in connection with the offence already referred to, he was expelled from college. There is no doubt that the course which the government adopted in relation to him, was the result of an undue sensitiveness to the prevailing religious excitement, and was designed as a strong expression of their opposi tion to Whitefield and his coadjuters; but however much they may have been in fault, it must be acknowledged that Brainerd's course was justly liable to reprehension. Indeed, he was himself subsequently fully sensible of it; and though he always felt that he had been the object of an unwarrantable severity, he never hesitated to acknowledge his fault, and it is evident that his reflections upon it exerted a decidedly favorable influence upon his character ever afterwards.
This untoward circumstance occurred while he was in his junior year, and as he never returned to college afterwards, he of course failed to receive a degree. In the spring of the same year in which he left college, he commenced the study of divinity under the direction of the Rev. Mr. Mills, of Ripton, and in the succeeding July was licensed to preach by the association of ministers which held its session at Danbury. From the commencement of his theological course, his attention had been directed with uncommon earnestness to the deplorable condition of the heathen, especially the aborigi nes of our own country; his heart burned to follow in the footsteps of the illustrious Eliot, in bringing the light of the gospel in contact with their darkened understandings; and, accordingly, in the autumn after he was licensed, he went to New York by invitation of the correspondents of the society for promoting Christian knowledge, and after submitting himself to an examination, received a regular appointment from them as a missionary among the Indians.
The first scene of his missionary labors was at an Indian village called Kaunameck, about half way between Stockbridge and Albany. Here he lived in the woods for about a year, lodging during a part of the time in a wigwam with the Indians, and subsisting altogether upon Indian fare. Notwithstanding he was subject to the greatest deprivations, and often suffered not a little from bodily debility and disease, he persevered without interruption in his benevolent labors, until the Indians among whom he resided, agreed to remove to Stockbridge, and place themselves under the care of the Rev. Mr. Sergeant. In consequence of this arrangement, he was obliged to look out for
another field of labor, and forthwith directed his attention toward the Delaware tribe.
Having received Presbyterian ordination at Newark, N. J., in June, 1744, on which occasion the Rev. Mr. Pemberton of New York preached, he forth with stationed himself near the forks of the Delaware, in Pennsylvania, where he labored, with comparatively little apparent effect, for about a year. At the end of this period he visited the Indians at a village called Crosweeksung, in the neighborhood of Freehold, the residence of the celebrated William Tennent. Here was the scene of his greatest success. A wonderful divine influence accompanied his labors, and in less than a year he baptized seventy-seven persons, thirty-eight of whom were adults, whose subsequent life furnished satisfactory evidence of a true conversion. There is no doubt that this was not only a very powerful, but very genuine revival of religion. In an unpublished letter addressed to the Rev. Dr. Wheelock, he says, "The good work which you will find largely treated of in my journal, still continues among the Indians; though the astonishing divine influence that has been among them, is in a considerable measure abated. Yet there are several instances of persons newly awakened. When I consider the doings of the Lord among these Indians, and then take a view of my journal, I must say, 'tis a faint representation I have given of them "
During his residence at the forks of the Delaware, he twice visited the Indians on the Susquehannah; and he paid them a third visit in the summer of 1746. But on his return to the village where he had been recently laboring, his physical energies were so far exhausted that he found it exceedingly difficult to preach, and in pursuance of medical advice he determined to travel, and visit his friends in New England. He extended his journey as far as Boston, and in July returned to Northampton, and became domesticated in the family of Jonathan Edwards, to whose daughter he was engaged to be married. Here he continued, undergoing a gradual decline, accompanied toward the close with most intense suffering, till Oct. 9, 1747, when he closed his earthly course at the early age of twenty-nine.
His last illness is represented as a most calm and yet triumphant exhibition of Christian faith. His views of divine truth were never so vivid and glorious as when he had nearly reached the threshold of that world where the great objects of his faith were to become the objects of his vision. He saw nothing but worthless
ness and emptiness in himself, nothing but worthiness and fulness in his Redeemer; and while he was yet lingering at the gate of death, he seemed to be entranced with the glories of heaven. He forgot not even amidst his dying agonies and the anticipation of the crown that awaited him, the prosperity of Christ's church on earth; and the poor Indians especially, among whom he had labored, came in for a share of his tender remembrances as he was on his way through the dark valley. The glories of the saved and the miseries of the lost rose up in fearful contrast before his dying eye; and he exclaimed with his last breath, My work is done-Oh to be in Heaven, to praise and glorify God with his holy angels!"
The funeral of Mr. Brainerd, at which President Edwards preached, was an occasion of the deepest interest to the inhabitants not only of Northampton, but of the whole surrounding country. We happen to have in our possession an original letter addressed by Mr. Edwards to a clergyman in the neighborhood, inviting him to Mr. Brainerd's funeral. It is as follows*—
"Rev. Sir, It has pleased God to remove by death that eminent servant of his, the Rev. Mr. David Brainerd, about 6 o'clock this morning. You may remember that you desired me, if I had opportunity, to give you notice of the time of his funeral. It is, God willing, to be the next Monday; the lecture before the funeral to begin at one o'clock. When Mr. Brainerd, in his life-time, was speaking of the circumstance of his own funeral, and desiring that the neighboring ministers of his acquaintance might be sent for, I mentioned what you had said, manifesting a disposition to attend the funeral, if it might be convenient. He seemed in a considerable degree to take a thankful notice of it; and desired me to take some pains to find an opportunity to give you notice. I mention these things to you, Rev. Sir, leaving it with you to conduct yourself according to your own discretion. But if you can be present, I shall be very glad, who am
"Your humble servant,
"JONATHAN EDWARDS." The mortal remains of this eminently devot. ed and useful minister repose in the buryingplace at Northampton, and the spot is hallowed to the hearts of thousands by the most grateful associations and remembrances. The stranger who only passes through the town is often heard inquiring the way to "Brainerd's grave;" The date of the letter is wanting.
and many a Christian and many a minister, whose home is on the other side of the ocean, has stood over the spot with quickened emotions and with a moistened eye. It is within the last two or three years, that on some public occasion at Northampton, which called together a large number of ministers-we forget whether it was the meeting of the American Board or of the General Association-a clerical procession walked early in the morning into the graveyard to visit this hallowed spot; and as they stood over it, they offered up thanksgivings to his God and their God for having made him what he was, and supplications that the remembrance of his example might cheer them onward in their labors, and assist them to win the immortal crown. Let that grave remain, not to foster the spirit of superstition, not to awaken an idolatrous homage, but to speak to the church and her ministry of the power of God's grace, and of their obligations to glorify him in the extension of his gospel.
Brainerd possessed an intellect, if not of the highest order, yet of more than common vigor. His perceptions were unusually quick and clear, his memory retentive, his judgment discriminating, and his utterance ready and agreeable. He had a mind which could originate thoughts for itself, without being entirely dependent on other minds; and he had the faculty of commanding his thoughts at pleasure and of using them to the best advantage. By the most intimate communion with his own heart, and by a careful observance of the conduct of his fellow men, he became a great proficient in the knowledge of human nature; and this gave him a great advantage, especially in the prosecution of his missionary labors. His preaching was characterized by the most discriminating views of evangelical truth, by a manly and dignified eloquence, and by that fervor of spirit and strength of appeal, which are especially fitted to work their way to the heart. In the ordinary intercourse of life, he was easy and familiar, and though his deportment always evinced a thoughtful and fervent spirit that was tending upward, yet he was as far as possible from anything that looked like artificial sanctity.
It was in his Christian, rather than his intellectual, character that the secret of his mighty power, and his extensive usefulness, lay. Few men whose history is recorded, have had so remarkable a religious experience as he. We have already alluded to the character of his exercises at the commencement of his Christian course; and that was, in most respects, indica
tive of his subsequent exercises in the more advanced stages of his experience. While he felt most deeply the turpitude of human nature in its present lapsed state, and had the deepest sense of his own moral pollution and ill desert in the sight of a holy God-while he gratefully felt and acknowledged the sinner's entire dependence for salvation on sovereign mercy abounding through Jesus Christ, he was as far as possible from diminishing aught from the sinner's obligations and responsibilities, and never failed to unite duty with dependence, either in his reflections or his ministrations. He abhorred that religion that consists merely in frames and feelings, and was satisfied with nothing either in respect to himself or others, but substantial love to God and man. He had, especially in the later periods of his life, no sympathy with a spirit of enthusiasm or uncharitableness. The fact of his having been betrayed, to some extent, into the indulgence of this spirit, during his connection with college, and of his subsequent conviction that he had thus fallen into errors, no doubt was the means of guarding him more effectually against this evil during the rest of his life; and if there was any one thing for which his character as a Christian and a minister was distinguished, it was his rigid adherence to gospel principles and rules in opposition to the impressions and vagaries of fanaticism. He had such entire confidence in the character of God, and such enrapturing views of his glory, that he found delight continually in doing his will, and in submitting to his will-no matter how severe may have been the sufferings to which he was called. After he closed his labors at Kaunameck, which had been continued for a year with comparatively little success, he was invited to the pastoral charge of the church in East Hampton, L. I.-the same of which the venerable Dr. Butler was afterwards for many years pastor; and though it was regarded as one of the most eligible places of the day for ministerial comfort and usefulness, yet Brainerd unhesitatingly declined it, preferring a new mission among the Indians, with all the deprivations and hardships by which he knew it must be attended. The benevolence of the gospel breathed in all his actions. In his efforts to save the souls of his fellow creatures and glorify his Redeemer, he completely lost sight of his own temporal convenience and comfort; and in all the success that attended his labors, the language of his heart evidently was, "Not unto us, not unto us, but to thy name, O Lord, be all the glory!"
After contemplating the eminent services and sacrifices of such a man as David Brainerd, we should be unjust alike to our own interests and his memory, if we were not to pause and gather up some of the lessons, which the history of such a man suggests. We will briefly advert to two or three of them.
We see in the history of this remarkable man, a striking instance of what often occurs under the government of God-evil being rendered subservient to good. Brainerd's course toward the government of college was certainly reprehensible, and the spirit which he evinced for a time, savored little of the meekness and gentleness of Christ; and yet this taught him a lesson of his weakness and danger which he never forgot; and to this no doubt it was chiefly owing that he was so much distinguished in his subsequent course for the union of consistency and charity. But it was not for himself only that he learned this lesson, but for all who come after him; and especially for all young professors who are thrown into circumstances of great religious excitement. During the revivals which have occurred in our churches within the last twenty years, this same spirit which Brainerd manifested, and afterwards so heartily condemned, has often been exhibited by young men, in relation not merely to those who have really discovered an unjustifiable apathy toward the existing state of things, but those also who have had far more piety as well as stability and discretion, than themselves. We have in our eye at this moment young men who have followed in Brainerd's steps, not less in regard to his penitence than his error; who have acted rashly and uncharitably and fanatically for a time, and have afterwards reproached themselves for their evil doing, and settled down into stable and consistent Christians. And we regret to-day that we can think of other cases in which young men who have played the same unworthy part during a revival, who have stigmatized prudence with the name of apathy, and order with the name of formality, and have seemed to set themselves up as examples of all that was zealous and courageous and self-sacrificing, who have after a little while apparently lost their interest in the whole subject-and perhaps in the compass of a few brief months have travelled the whole distance from fanaticism to formalism. We say again, the experience of Brainerd on this subject is monitory to every young man of this age; and if the lesson of caution which it suggests could have been duly pondered and heeded by every young Chris
tian in our land within the last few years, it would have prevented a world of bitterness, and false experience, and commotion all over the church.
Brainerd's history shows the wonderful power of the Christian principle as an element of usefulness. He had indeed a well balanced and well cultivated mind; but was not in either of these respects so much distinguished, as to constitute any reason for his name being transmitted to posterity. No doubt he had classmates in college and brethren in the ministry, who possessed as vigorous powers as he, whose names have already perished from every, earthly record, unless perhaps it be the college catalogue; whilst his name is like a household word on the other side of the ocean. And wherefore is this difference? It arises simply from the fact that while they were either strangers to the renovating influence of Christianity altogether, or else had the Christian graces but feebly and imperfectly developed in their characters, with him religion was an all-absorbing matter-it was the only element in which he could freely breathe-it was the vital principle of his existence. It was faith in the gospelfaith in the Saviour-faith in the promisesthat made him so mighty both to labor and endure. No man felt his own weakness more, but he was in constant communion with the fountain of all strength. He lived with his eye fixed on the glories of the upper world. He lost sight of everything earthly in his exceeding desire to behold God's glory, and to wear the purchased crown. Let others go and do likewise, and they may hope for his reward. They may behold fresh monuments of usefulness rising up in their path; they may see the wilderness budding and blossoming around them, they may hear sinners converted from the error of their ways recognizing them as instruments of their salvation; and they may be cheered by the thought that after they have passed away from all earthly scenes, the record of their example will survive them to work with mighty power in training others for heaven.
How manifestly is the wisdom of God to be seen in now and then raising up a man like Brainerd, the light of whose character shall shine through many generations! While in every such instance he displays the sovereignty and riches of his grace, to the contemplation and admonition of his church, he also furnishes an example of eminent faith and usefulness which may stimulate myriads to nobler Christian attainments and achievements. Luther, and
Schwartz, and Edwards, and Martin, to say nothing of the inspired Paul-how they glow in greater glory, even among the illustrious names of their respective periods! Let the Church keep her eye fixed on these luminous bodies in the spiritual hemisphere, and as she contemplates the image of the exalted Saviour as it appears in them, she may hope that that image will shine out in brighter effulgence from herself.
Brainerd's success among the poor Indians, should be regarded as a pledge of the ultimate triumph of the missionary cause. He went among them, and he found their minds dark as night, and their hearts hard as adamant; but he carried with him in the glorious gospel that which could enlighten, and that which could soften; though neither the one effort nor the other could be produced independently of an influence from on high. Hence he preached for awhile with little visible success-the Indian heard but he heeded not-his savage habits were so dear to him that he could not consent to put them away. But did the faithful missionary yield to discouragement? Did he say within himself, "these savages will never yield to the gospel call, and therefore they must be left to their wretched condition and yet more wretched prospects!" Oh no, his faith never failed even in the darkest times-he kept on laboring in his self-denying vocation; and when he was constrained to leave one place in the wilderness, he looked out for another; and at length he found the place where God's blessing was to be poured out upon his labors, and he was to behold the evidence that the gospel through God was mighty to conquer even an Indian's heart. As he preached, the truth came down with power; and the tear started and the bosom heaved with penitence; and one after another felt the subduing, quickening energy, till that solitary place had really become the scene of a glorious revival-had become vocal with the praises of our God. What encouragement does the contemplation of this scene furnish to the missionary of the present day-what encouragement to the church in reference to the ultimate Brainerd success of the missionary cause! labored a considerable time and no blessing seemed to come; but at length the Spirit was with him and aroused him as a mighty working mind. So God has often since permitted his servants to labor among the heathen for a long time, and has left them to the lamentation, "Who hath believed our report ?"—and then has suddenly cheered them with some reviving
tokens of his favor. suppose, either in view of prophecy or the analogies of providence, that this same characteristic may mark the divine administration in respect to the progession and universal triumph of truth and holiness? The church has been laboring long and is laboring still, with much less effect than she could desire. She erects the standard of the cross here and there, and then perhaps Satan's standard is unfurled in its place. She has some energy, but she marvels that her success is not greater, and sometimes is half inclined to fold her arms in discouragement. But let her press onward, and she shall soon find the signs of approaching victory multiplying around her. Let her prepare herself to open her eyes suddenly on a far more glorious day. Ere long-possibly before our children's children shall have tasted death-there may be some mighty movement in providence in which the hand of the Lord shall be wonderfully revealed for the conversion of the nations; and the prophecy that a nation shall be born in a day, may stand forth in the glory of a literal and complete fulfilment. Let our faith take fast hold of God's promises; and let us feel assured that it is not more certain as a matter of history that the Indians expected and believed as Brainerd preached and prayed, than it is as a matter of prophecy that at some future period all the nations shall bow to Emanuel's sceptre, and shouts of jubilee shall go up to heaven, because He who created all things, has created all things new.
And is it unreasonable to
Of Brainerd's manuscript letters, it is believed not more than three or four are in existence. We have understood that his biographer, Dr. Sereno Dwight, in all his researches preparatory to writing his life, did not find a solitary one.
The following addressed to the Rev. John Sergeant, his fellow-laborer in the missionary cause at Stockbridge, was found a few years ago among some rubbish in the garret of a house in Massachusetts that had been occupied by the clergymen of the parish successively for about a century.
Woodbury, March 25, 1745.
REV. AND HON. SIR:-In November last, I attempted to send you a line by Mr. Van Skanke, to inform you of the state of affairs with me, and actually wrote: but he leaving New York an hour sooner than I expected, I was disappointed. And now I'm in the greatest hurry, and can but hint at things, I would otherwise be more particular in.