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During his confinement at Elizabethtown, Brainerd wrote the following letter to his youngest brother. To his brother Israel, then a Student at Yale College, New
“ Elizabethtown, New Jersey, Nov. 24, 1746.
DEAR BROTHER, 5 I had determined to make you and my other friends in New England a visit, this fall; partly from an earnest desire I had to see you and them, and partly with a view to the recovery of my health ; which has, for more than three months past, been much impaired. In order to prosecute this design, I set out from my own people about three weeks
and came as far as to this place; where, my disorder greatly increasing, I have been obliged to keep house ever since, until the day before yesterday; when I was able to ride about half a mile, but found myself much tired with the journey. I have now no hopes of prosecuting my journey into New England this winter; my present state of health will by no means admit of it. Although I am, through divine goodness, much better than I was some days ago ; yet I have not strength now to ride more than ten miles a day, if the season were warm, and fit for me to travel in. My disorder has been attended with several symptoms of consumption; and I have been at times apprehensive, that my great change was at hand : yet blessed be God, I have never been affrighted ; but, on the contrary, at times much delighted with a view of its approach. O the blessedness of being delivered from the clogs of flesh and sense, from a body of sin and spiritual death! O the unspeakable sweetness of being translated into a state of complete purity and perfection! believe me, my brother, a lively view and hope of these things, will make the king of terrors himself appear agreeable. Dear brother, let me entreat you, to keep eternity in your view, and behave yourself as becomes one that must shortly "give an account of things done in the body.' That God may be your God, and prepare you for his service here, and his kingdom of glory hereafter, is the desire and daily prayer of "Your affectionate loving brother,
« DAVID BRAINERD."
“ In December, I had revived so far as to be able to walk abroad, and visit my friends, and seemed to be on the gaining hand with regard to my health, in the main, until Lord's day, December 21. At which time I went to the public worship, and it being sacrament day, I laboured much at the Lord's table to bring forth a certain corruption, and have it slain, as being an enemy to God and my own soul; and could not but hope, that I had gained some strength against this, as well as other corruptions; and felt some brokenness of heart for my sin.
“ After this, having perhaps taken some cold, I began to decline as to bodily health ; and continued to do so, till
the latter end of January, 1747. Having a violent cough, a considerable fever, an asthmatic disorder, and no appetite for any manner of food, nor any power of digestion, I was reduced to so low a state, that my friends, I believe, generally despaired of my life; and some of them, for some time together, thought I could scarce live a day. At this time, I could think of nothing, with any application of mind, and seemed to be in a great measure void of all affection, and was exercised with great temptations ; but yet was not, ordinarily, afraid of death.
Lord's day, Feb. 1. - Though in a very weak and low state, I enjoyed a considerable degree of comfort and sweetness in divine things; and was enabled to plead and use arguments with God in prayer, I think, with a child-like spirit. That passage of scripture occurred to my mind, and gave me great assistance, · If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the holy Spirit to them that ask him? This text I was helped to plead, and insist upon; and saw the divine faithfulness engaged for dealing with me better than any earthly parent can do with his child. This season so refreshed my soul, that my body seemed also to be a gainer by it. From this time, I began gradually to amend. As I recovered some strength, vigour, and spirit, I found at times some freedom and life in the exercises of devotion, and some longings after spirituality and a life of usefulness to the interests of the great Redeemer. At other times, I was awfully barren and lifeless, and out of frame for the things of God; so that I was ready often to cry out, • Oh that it were with me as in months past! Oh that God had taken me away in the midst of my usefulness, with a sudden stroke, that I might not have been under a necessity of trifling away time in diversions! Oh that I had never lived to spend so much precious time, in so poor a manner, and to so little purpose ! 'Thus I often reflected, was grieved, ashamed, and even confounded, sunk and discouraged.
Feb. 24. “ I was able to ride as far as Newark, (having been confined within Elizabethtown almost four months,) and the next day returned to Elizabethtown. My spirits were somewhat refreshed with the ride, though my body was weary.
Feb. 28. “ Was visited by an Indian of my own congrega: tion, who brought me letters, and good news of the sober and good behaviour of my people in general. This refreshed my soul. I could not but soon retire, and bless God for his goodness; and found, I trust, a truly thankful frame of spirit, that God seemed to be building up that congregation for himself.
March 4. " I met with reproof from a friend, which, although I thought I did not deserve it from him, yet was, I trust, blessed of God to make me more tenderly afraid of sin, more jealous over myself, and more concerned to keep both heart and life
and unblameable. It likewise caused me to reflect on my past deadness and want of spirituality, and to abhor inyself, and look on myself as most unworthy. This frame of mind continued the next day; and for several days after, I grieved to think, that in my necessary diversions I had not maintained more seriousness, solemnity, heavenly affection, and conversation. Thus my spirits were often depressed and sunk; and yet, I trust, that reproof was made to be beneficial to me.
“ March 11 being kept în Elizabethtown as a day of fasting and prayer, I was able to attend public worship ; which was the first time I had been able so to do since December 21. 0, how much weakness and distress did God carry me through in this space of time! But having obtained help from him, I yet live. “Oh that I could live more to his glory!
Lord's day, March 15. “ Was able again to attend public worship, and felt some earnest desires of being restored to the ministerial work : felt, I think, some spirit and life, to speak for God.
March 18. “ Rode out with a design to visit my people; and the next day arrived among them: but was under great dejection in my journey.
“ On Friday morning, I rose early, walked about among my people, and inquired into their state and concerns; and found an additional weight and burden on my spirits, upon hearing some things disagreeable. I endeavoured to go to God with my
distresses, and made some kind of lamentable complaint ; and in a broken manner spread my difficulties before God: but notwithstanding, my mind continued very gloomy. About ten o'clock I called my people together, and after having explained and sung a psalm, I prayed with them. There was a considerable deal of affection among them; I doubt not, in some instances, that which was more than merely natural."
This was the last interview which he ever had with his people. Vol. X.
From the termination of his Missionary Labours to his Death.
On Friday, March 20, 1747, about 11 A. M. he left Cranberry; little suspecting that he saw it and his beloved people for the last time. On Saturday, he came to Elizabethtown, enfeebled in health, and oppressed with melancholy. Here he continued a considerable time, labouring under the ravages of disease, and suffering from extreme depression of spirit.
March 28. “ Was taken this morning with violent griping pains. These pains were extreme, and constant for several hours; so that it seemed impossible for me, without a miracle, to live twenty-four hours in such distress. I lay confined to my bed the whole day, and in distressing pain, all the former part of it; but it pleased God to bless means for the abatement of
Was exceedingly weakened by this pain, and continued so for several days following ; being exercised with a fever, cough, and nocturnal sweats.
In this distressed case, so long as my head was free of vapoury confusions, death appeared agreeable to me. I looked on it as the end of toils, and an entrance into a place where the weary are at rest;' and think I had some relish for the entertainments of the heavenly state ; so that by these I was allured and drawn, as well as driven by the fatigues of life. O, how happy it is, to be drawn by desires of a state of perfect holiness!
April 4. 6 Was sunk and dejected, very restless and uneasy, by reason of the misimprovement of time, and yet knew not what to do. I longed to spend time in fasting and prayer, that I might be delivered from indolence and coldness in the things of God; but, alas, I had not bodily strength for these exercises ! O, how blessed a thing it is to enjoy peace of conscience! but how dreadful is a want of inward peace and composure of soul! It is impossible, I find, to enjoy this happiness without redeeming time, and maintaining a spiritual frame of mind.
Lord's day, April 5. “ It grieved me to find myself so inconceivably barren. My soul thirsted for grace; but, alas, how far was I from obtaining what appeared to me so exceeding excellent! I was ready to despair of ever being a holy creature, and yet my soul was desirous of following hard after God; but never did I see myself so far from having apprehended, or being already perfect, as at this time. The Lord's supper being this day administered, I attended the ordinance : and though I saw in myself a dreadful emptiness, and want of grace, and saw myself as it were at an infinite distance from that purity which becomes the gospel, yet at the communion, especially at the distribution of the bread, I enjoyed some warmth of affection, and felt a tender love to the brethren; and, I think, to the glorious Redeemer, the first born among them. I endeavoured then to bring forth mine and his enemies, and slay them before him ; and found great freedom in begging deliverance from this spiritual death, as well as in asking divine favours for my friends and congregation, and the church of Christ in general.
April 7. “In the afternoon rode to Newark, to marry the Rev. Mr. Dickinson ;* and in the evening, performed that service. Afterwards, rode home to Elizabethtown, in a pleasant frame, full of composure and sweetness.
April :). “Attended the ordination of Mr. Tucker, and af. terwards the examination of Mr. Smith : was in a comfortable frame of mind this day, and felt my heart, I think, sometimes in a spiritual frame.
April 10. "Spent the forenoon in Presbyterial business. In the afternoon, rode to Elizabethtown; found my brother John there : I spent some time in conversation with him ; but was extremely weak and outdone, my spirits considerably sunk, and my mind dejected. April 13.
“ Assisted in examining my brother. In the evening, was in a solemn, devout frame; but was much overdone and oppressed with a violent head-ach.
April 14. “ Was able to do little or nothing: spent some time with Mr. Byram and other friends. This day my brother went to my people.
April 15. Found some freedom at the throne of grace several times this day. In the afternoon, was very weak, and
* The late learned and very excellent Mr. Jonathan Dickinson, pastor of a church in Elizabethtown, president of the college of New-Jersey, and one of the correspondents of the honourable society in Scotland for propagating christian knowledge. He had a great esteem for BRAINERD; kindly entertained him in his house during his sickness the winter past; and after a short illness, died the ensuing October, two days before BRAINERD.
+ A worthy pious young gentleman; who lived in the ministry but a very short time: he died at Stratfield, in Connecticut, the December following his ordination, a little while after Brainerd's death at Northampton. He was taken ill on a journey, returning from a visit to his friends at Milton in Massachusetts, which, as I take it, was his native place, and Harvard College the place of his education.
I This brother of his had been sent for by the correspondents, to take care of, and instruct Brainerd's congregation of Indians; he being obliged by his illness to be absent from them. He continued to take care of them till Brainerd's death : and since his death, has been ordained his successor in his mission, and to the charge of his congregation ; which continues much to flourish under his pastoral care.