« PoprzedniaDalej »
From his birth, to the time when he began to devote himself
to the study of divinity, in order to his being fitted for the work of the ministry.
M. DAVID BRAINERD was born April 20, 1718, at Haddam, a town belonging to the county of Hartford, in the colony of Connecticut, New England. His father, who died when this his son was about nine years of age, was the worshipful Hezekiah Brainerd, Esq. an assistant, or one of his Majesty's council for that colony, and the son of Daniel Brainerd, Esq. a justice of the peace, and a deacon of the church of Christ in Haddam. His mother, was Mrs Dorothy Hobart, daughter to the Rev. Jeremiah Hobart, who preached a while at Topsfield, and then removed to Hempstead on Long Island, and afterwards removed from Hempstead, by reason of numbers turning Quakers, and many others being so irreligious, that they would do nothing towards the support of the ministry, and came and settled in the work of the ministry at Haddam; where he died in the 85th year of his age : of whom it is remarkable, that he went to the public worship in the forenoon, and died in his chair between meetings. And this reverend gentleman was son
of the Rev. Peter Hobart, who was, first, minister of the gospel at Hingham, in the county of Norfolk in England; and, by reason of the persecution of the Puritans, removed with his family to New England, and was settled in the ministry at Hingham, in the Massachusets. He had five sons, viz. Joshua, Jeremiah, Gershom, Ja pheth, and Nehemiah. His son Joshua was minister at Southold on Long Island ; Jeremiah was Mr David Brainerd's grandfather, minister at Haddam, as was before observed; Gershom was minister of Groton in Connecticut; Japheth was a physician, and went in the quality of a doctor of a ship to England, before the time for the taking his second degree at college, and designed to go from thence to the East Indies, and never was heard of more; Nehemiah was sometime fellow of Harvard college, and afterwards minister at Newton in the Massachusets. The mother of Mrs Dorothy Hobart, who was afterwards Brainerd, was daughter to the Rev. Samuel Whiting, minister of the gospel, first at Boston, in Lincolnshire, and afterwards at Lynn in the Massachusets, New England : he had three sons that were minis. ters of the gospel.
Mr David Brainerd was the third son of his parents. They had five sons, and four daughters. Their eldest son is Hezekiah Brainerd, Esq. a justice of the peace, and for several years past a representative of the town of Haddam, in the general assembly of Connecticut colody; the second was the Rev. Nehemiah Brainerd, a worthy minister at Eastbury in Connecticut, who died of a consumption November 10, 1742; the fourth is Mr John Brainerd, who succeeds his brother David, as missionary to the Indians, and pastor of the same church of Chris tian Indians in New Jersey; and the fifth was Israel, lately student at Yale college in New Haven, who died since his brother David. -Mrs Dorothy Brainerd having lived several years a widow, died, when her son, whose life I am about to give an account of, was about fourteen years of age : so that in his youth he was left both father. less and motherless. What account he has given of himself, and his own life, may be seen in what follows.
I was, I think, from my youth, something suber, and inclined rather to melancholy, than the contrary extreme; but do not remember any thing of conviction of sin, worthy of remark, till I was, I believe, about seven or eight years of age, when I became something concerned for my soul, and terrified at the thoughts of death, and was driven to the performance of duties : but it appeared a melancholy business, and destroyed my eagerness for play. And, alas ! this religious concern was but shortlived. However, I sometimes attended secret prayer ; and thus lived at “ ease in Zion, without God in the world,” and without much concern, as I remember, till I was above thirteen years of age. But some time in the winter 1732, I was something roused out of carnal security, by I scarce know what means at first; but was much excited by the prevailing of a mortal sickness in Haddam. I was frequent, constant, and something fervent in duties, and took delight in reading, especially Mr Janeway's Token for Children ; I felt sometimes much melted in duties, and took great delight in the performance of them; and I sometimes hoped, that I was converted, or at least in' a good and hopeful way for heaven and happiness, not knowing what conversion was. The Spirit of God at this time proceeded far with me; I was remarkably dead to the world, and my thoughts were almost wholly employed about my soul's concerns; and I may indeed say, “ Almost I was persuaded to be a Christian.' I was also exceedingly distressed and melancholy at the death of my mother, in March 1732. But afterwards my religious concern began to decline, and I by degrees fell back into a considerable degree of security, though I still attended secret prayer frequently.
About the 15th of April 1733, I removed from my father's house to East Haddam, where I spent four years, but still “ without God in the world;" though, for the most part, I went a round of secret duty. I was not exceedingly addicted to young company, or frolicing, as it is called. But this I know, that when I did go into company, I never returned from a frolic in my life, with so good a conscience as I went with; it always added new guilt to me, and made me afraid to come to the throne of grace, and spoiled those good frames I was wont sometimes to please myself with. But, alas! all my good frames were but self-righteousness, not bottomed on a desire for the glory of God.
About the latter end of April 1737, being full nineteen years of age, I removed to Durham, and began to work on my farm, and so continued the year out, or nearly, till I was twenty years old; frequently longing, from a natural inclination, after a liberal education. When I was about twenty years of age, I applied myself to study; and sometime before, was more than ordinarily excited to and in duty: but now engaged more than ever in the duties of religion. I became very strict, and watchful over my thoughts, words, and actions; and thought I must be sober indeed, because I designed to devote inyself to the ministry; and imagined I did dedicate myself to the Lord.
Some time in April 1738, I went to Mr Fiske's, and lived with him during his life*. And I remember, he advised me wholly to abandon young company, ciate myself with grave elderly people: which counsel I followed ; and my manner of life was now exceeding regular, and full of religion, such as it was ; for I read my Bible more than twice through in less than a year, I spent much time every day in secret prayer, and other secret duties; I gave great attention to the word preached, and endeavoured to my utmost to retain it. · So much concerned was I about religion, that I agreed with some young persons to meet privately on Sabbath evenings for religious exercises, and thought myself sincere in these duties; and after our meeting was ended, I used to repeat the discourses of the day to myself, and recollect what I could, though sometimes it was very late in the night. Again, on Monday mornings I used sometimes to recollect the saine sermons.
And I had sometimes considerable movings of affections in duties, and much
* Mr Fiske was the pastor of the church in Haddam.
pleasure, and had many thoughts of joining to the church. In short, I had a very good outside, and rested entirely on my duties, though I was not sensible of it.
After Mr Fiske's death, I proceeded in my learning with my brother; and was still very constant in religious duties, and often wondered at the levity of professors; it was a trouble to me, that they were so careless in religious matters.--Thus I proceeded a considerable length on a selfrighteous foundation ; and should have been entirely lost and undone, had not the mere mercy of God prevented.
Some time in the beginning of winter, anno 1738, it pleased God, on one Sabbath day morning, as I was walking out for some secret duties, as I remember, to give me on a sudden such a sense of my danger, and the wrath of God, that I stood amazed, and my former good frames, that I had pleased myself with, all presently vanished ; and from the view that I had of my sin and vileness, I was much distressed all that day, fearing the vengeance of God would soon overtake me; I was much dejected, and kept much alone, and sometimes begrudged the birds and beasts their happiness, because they were not exposed to eternal misery, as I evidently saw I was. And thus I lived from day to day, being frequently in great distress : sometimes there appeared mountains before me to obstruct my hopes of mercy; and the work of conversion appeared so great, I thought I should never be the subject of it: but used, however, to pray and cry to God, and perform other duties with great earnestness, and hoped by some means to make the case better. And though I hundreds of times renounced all pretences of any worth in my duties, as I thought, even in the season of the performance of them, and often confessed to God that I deserved nothing for the very best of them, but eternal condemnation; yet still I had a secret latent hope of recommending myself to God by my religious duties; and when I prayed affectionately, and my heart seemed in some measure to melt, I hoped God would be thereby moved to pity me, my prayers then looked with some appearance of goodness in them, and I seemed to mourn for sin: and then I could in some measure venture on the