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From about the time when he began the study of Theology, to
In the Spring of 1742, BRAINERD went to live with the Rev. Mr. Mills of Ripton, to pursue his studies with him, for the work of the ministry. Here he spent the greater part of the time until the Association licensed him to preach ; but frequently rode to visit the neighbouring ministers, particularly Mr. Cooke of Stratford, Mr. Graham of Southbury, and Mr. Bellamy of Bethlehem. While with Mr. Mills, he began the third book of his diary in which the account he wrote of himself, is as follows:
April 1, 1742. “ I seem to be declining, with respect to my life and warmth in divine things; and have had not so free access to God in prayer, as usual of late. Oh that God would humble me deeply in the dust before him! I deserve hell every day, for not loving my Lord more, who has, I trust, loved me and given himself for me; and every time I am enabled to exercise any grace renewedly, I am renewedly indebted to the God of all grace for special assistance. Where then is boasting? Surely it is excluded, when we think how we are dependent on God for the existence and every act of grace. O if ever I get to heaven, it will be because God pleases and nothing else ; for I never did any thing of myself, but get away from God! My soul will be astonished at the unsearchable riches of divine grace, when I arrive at the mansions, which the blessed Saviour is gone before to prepare.
April 2. “In the afternoon, I felt in secret prayer, much resigned, calm and serene. What are all the storms of this lower world, if Jesus by his spirit does but come walking on the seas !-Sometime past, I had much pleasure in the prospect of the Heathen being brought home to Christ, and desired that the Lord would employ me in that work: but now my soul more frequently desires to die, to be with Christ. Oh that my soul were wrapt up in divine love, and my longing desires after God increased! In the evening, was refreshed in prayer, with the hopes of the advancement of Christ's kingdom in the world.
April 3. “ Was very much amiss this morning, and had a bad night. I thought, if God would take me to himself now, my soul would exceedingly rejoice. Oh that I may be always
humble and resigned to God, and that he would cause my soul to be more fixed on himself, that I may be more fitted both for doing and suffering:
Lord's day, April 4. My heart was wandering and lifeless. In the evening God gave me faith in prayer, made my soul melt in some measure, and gave me to taste a divine sweetness. O my blessed God! Let me climb up near to him, and love, and long, and plead, and wrestle, and stretch after him, and for deliverance from the body of sin and death.Alas! my soul mourned to think I should ever lose sight of its beloved again. "O come, Lord Jesus, Amen."
On the evening of the next day, he complains, that he seemed to be void of all relish of divine things, felt much of the prevalence of corruption, and saw in himself a disposition to all manner of sin ; which brought a very great gloom on his mind, and cast him down into the depths of melancholy; so that he speaks of himself as amazed, having no comfort, but filled with horror, seeing no comfort in heaven or earth.
April 6. " I walked out this morning to the same place where I was last night, and felt as I did then; but was somewhat relieved by reading some passages in my diary, and seemed to feel as if I might pray to the great God again with freedom; but was suddenly struck with a damp, from the sense I had of my own vileness.—Then I cried to God to cleanse me from my exceeding filthiness, to give me repentance and pardon. I then began to find it sweet to pray ; and could think of undergoing the greatest sufferings in the cause of Christ, with pleasure ; and found myself willing, if God should so order it, to suffer banishment from my native land, among the Heathen, that I might do something for their salvation, in distresses and deaths of any kind.—Then God gave me to wrestle earnestly for others, for the kingdom of Christ in the world, and for dear Christian friends.-I felt weaned from the world, and from my own reputation amongst men, willing to be despised, and to be a gazing stock for the world to behold.—It is impossible for me to express how I then felt: I had not much joy, but some sense of the majesty of God, which made me as it were ti ble. I saw myself mean and vile, which made me more willing that God should do what he would with me; it was all infinitely reasonable.
April 7. “ I had not so much fervency, but felt somewhat as I did yesterday morning, in prayer.—At noon I spent some time in secret, with some fervency, but scarce any sweetness ; and felt very dull in the evening.
April 8. “ Had raised hopes to-day respecting the Heathen. Oh that God would bring in great numbers of them to Jesus Christ! I cannot but hope that I shall see that glorious day.-Every thing in this world seems exceeding vile and little to me; I look so on myself.--I had some little dawn of comfort to-day in prayer ; but especially to-night, I think I had some faith and power of intercession with God. I was enabled to plead with God for the growth of grace in myself; and many of the dear children of God then lay with weight upon my soul. Blessed be the Lord ! It is good to wrestle for divine blessings.
April 9. “ Most of my time in morning devotion was spent without sensible sweetness, yet I had one delightful prospect of arriving at the heavenly world. I am more amazed than ever at such thoughts ; for I see myself infinitely vile and unworthy. I feel very heartless and dull; and though I long for the presence of God, and seem constantly to reach towards God in desires : yet I cannot feel that divine and heavenly sweetness that I used to enjoy.--No poor creature stands in need of divine grace more than I, and none abuse it more than I have done, and still do.
April 10. “ Spent much time in secret prayer this morning, not without some comfort in divine things, and hope I had some faith in exercise ; but am so low, and feel so little of the sensible presence of God, that I hardly know what to call faith, and am made to possess the sins of my youth, and the dreadful sin of my nature. I am all sin ; I cannot think nor act, but every motion is sin. I feel some faint hopes, that God will, of his infinite mercy, return again with showers of converting grace to poor gospel-abusing sinners; and my hopes of being employed in the cause of God, which of late have been almost extinct, seem now a little revived. Oh that all my late distresses and awful apprehensions, might prove but Christ's school, to make me fit for greater service, by teaching me the great lesson of humility!
Lord's Day, April 11. “In the morning I felt but little life, except that
my heart was somewhat drawn out in thankfulness to God, for his amazing grace and condescension to me, in past influences and assistances of his spirit. Afterwards, I had some sweetness in the thoughts of arriving at the heavenly world. O for the happy day! After public worship, God gave me special assistance in prayer; I wrestled with my dear Lord, with much sweetness ; and intercession was made a delightful employment to me. In the evening, as I was viewing the light in the north, I was delighted in contemplation on the glorious morning of the Resurrection.
April 12. “This morning the Lord was pleased to lift up the light of his countenance upon me in secret prayer, and made the season very precious to my soul. Though I have been so depressed of late, respecting my hopes of future serviceableness in the cause of God; yet now I had much encouragement respecting that matter. I was especially assisted to intercede and plead for poor souls, and for the enlargement of Christ's kingdom in the world, and for special grace for myself, to fit me for special services. I felt exceedingly calm, and quite resigned to God, respecting my future employment, when and where he pleased. My faith lifted me above the world, and removed all those mountains over which of late I could not look. I wanted not the favour of man to lean upon; for I knew that Christ's favour was infinitely better, and that it was no matter when nor where nor how Christ should send me, nor what trials he should still exercise me with, if I might be prepared for his work and will. I now found revived in my mind, the wonderful discovery of infinite wisdom in all the dispensations of God towards me, which I had, a little before I met with my great trial at college; every thing appeared full of divine wisdom.
April 13. "I saw myself to be very mean and vile; and wondered at those who showed me respect. Afterwards I was somewhat comforted in secret retirement, and assisted to wrestle with God with some power, spirituality, and sweetness.
Blessed be the Lord, he is never unmindful of me, but always sends me needed supplies ; and from time to time, when I am like one dead, he raises me to life. Oh that I may never distrust Infinite goodness!
April 14. “My soul longed for communion with Christ, and for the mortification of indwelling corruption, especially spiritual pride. O, there is a sweet day coming, wherein the weary will be at rest! My soul has enjoyed much sweetness this day, in the hopes of its speedy arrival.
April 15. “ My desires apparently centered in God; and I found a sensible attraction of soul after him sundry times to-day.
I know that I long for God, and a conformity to his will, in inward purity and holiness, ten thousand times more than for any thing here below.
April 16 and 17. “ I seldom prayed without some sensible joy in the Lord. Sometimes I longed much to be dissolved and to be with Christ. Oh that God would enable me to grow in grace every day! Alas! my barrenness is such that God might well say, Cut it down. I am afraid of a dead heart on the Sabbath now begun. Oh that God would quicken me by his grace!
Lord's day April 18. “I retired early this morning into the woods for prayer ; had the assistance of God's Spirit, and faith in exercise ; and was enabled to plead with fervency for the advancement of Christ's kingdom in the world, and to intercede for dear, absent friends. At noon, God enabled me to wrestle with him, and to feel, as I trust, the power of divine love, in prayer. At night I saw myself infinitely indebted to God, and had a view of my failures in duty. It seemed to me, that I had done, as it were, nothing for God, and that I never had lived to him but a few hours of
life. April 19. I set apart this day for fasting and prayer to God for his grace ; especially to prepare me for the work of the ministry; to give me divine aid and direction, in my preparations for that great work ; and in his own time to send me into his harvest. Accordingly, in the morning, I endeavoured to plead for the divine presence for the day, and not without some life. In the forenoon, I felt the power of intercession for precious, immortal souls ; for the advancement of the kingdom of my dear Lord and Saviour in the world ; and withal, a most sweet resignation, and even consolation and joy, in the thoughts of suffering hardships, distresses, and even death itself, in the promotion of it; and had peculiar enlargement in pleading for the enlightening and conversion of the poor Heathen. In the afternoon, God was with me of a truth. O, it was blessed company indeed! God enabled me so to agonize in prayer, that I was quite wet with perspiration, though in the shade, and the cool wind. My soul was drawn out very much from the world, for multitudes of souls. I think I had more enlargement for sinners, than for the children of God, though I felt as if I could spend my life in cries for both. I enjoyed great sweetness in communion with my dear Saviour. I think I never in my life felt such an entire weanedness from this world and so much resigned to God in every thing. Oh that I may always live to and upon my blessed God! Amen, Amen.
April 20. “ This day, I am twenty-four years of age. 0 how much mercy have I received the year past ! How often has God caused his goodness to pass before me! And how poorly have I answered the vows I made this time twelvemonth, to be wholly the Lord's, to be forever devoted to his service! The Lord help me to live more to his glory for the time to come.
This has been a sweet, a happy day to me; blessed be God. I think my soul was never so drawn out in intercession for others, as it has been this night. Had a most fervent wrestle with the Lord to-night for my enemies ; and I hardly ever so longed to live to God and to be altogether devoted to him; I wanted to wear out my life in his service, and for his glory.
April 21. " Felt much calmness and resignation ; and God again enabled me to wrestle for numbers of souls, and had much fervency in the sweet duty of intercession. I enjoyed of late more sweetness in intercession for others, than in any other part of prayer. My blessed Lord really leíi me come near to him and plead with him.”