« AnteriorContinuar »
P.S. I am now, at the dating of this letter, considerably recovered from what I was when I wrote it; it having lain by me some time, for want of an opportunity of conveyance; it was written in Boston.--I am now able to ride a little, and so am removed into the country: but have no more expectation of recovering, than when I wrote, though I am a little better for the present; and therefore I still subscribe myself,
Your dying friend, &c.
To his brother John, at Bethel, the town of christian Indians, in
New Jersey ; written likewise at Boston, when he was there on the brink of the grave, in the summer before his death.
DEAR BROTHER, I AM
AM now just on the verge of eternity, expecting very speedily to appear in the unseen world. I feel myself no more an inhabitant of earth, and sometimes earnestly long to “ depart and be with Christ. I bless God, he has for some years given me an abiding conviction, that it is impossible for any rational creature to enjoy true happiness without being entirely “ devot. ed to him." Under the influence of this conviction I have in some measure acted. Oh that I had done more so! I saw both the excellency and necessity of holiness in life; but never in such a manner as now, when I am just brought to the sides of the grave. Oh, my brother, pursue after holiness; press towards this blessed mark; and let your thirsty soul continually say, “I shall never be satisfied till I awake in thy likeness." Although there has been a great deal of selfishness in my views; of which I am ashamed, and for which my soul is humbled at every view; yet, blessed be God, I find I have really had, for the most part, such a concern for his glory, and the advance. ment of his kingdom in the world, that it is a satisfaction to me to reflect upon these years.
And now my dear brother, as I must press you to pursue after personal holiness, to be as much in fasting and prayer as your health will allow, and to live above the rate of common Christians; so I must entreat you solemnly to attend to your public work; labour to distinguish between true and false religion; and to that end, watch the motions of God's spirit upon
your own heart. Look to him for help; and impartially compare your experiences with his word. Read Mr. EDWARDS on the affections, where the essence and soul of religion is clearly distinguished from false affections *. Value religious joys according to the subject-matter of them: there are many who rejoice in their supposed justification; but what do these joys argue, but only that they love themselves? Whereas, in true spiritual joys, the soul rejoices in God for what he is in himself; blesses God for his holiness, sovereignty, power, faithfulness, and all his perfections; adores God, that he is what he is, that he is unchangeably possessed of infinite glory and happiness. Now, when men thus rejoice in the perfections of God, and in the infinite excellency of the way of salvation by Christ, and in the holy commands of God, which are a transcript of his holy nature; these joys are divine and spiritual. Our joys will stand by us at the hour of death, if we can be then satisfied, that we bave thus acted above self; and in a disinterested manner, if I may so express it, rejoiced in the glory of the blessed God.--I fear, you are not sufficiently aware how much .false religion there is in the world; many serious christians and valuable ministers are too easily imposed upon by this false blaze. I likewise fear, you are not sensible of the dreadful effects and consequences of this false religion. Let me tell you, it is the devil transformed into an angel of light; it is a brat of hell, that always springs up with every revival of religion, and stabs and murders the cause of God, while it passes current with multitudes of well meaning people for the height of religion. Set
* I had at first, fully intended, in publishing this and the foregoing letters, to have suppressed these passages wherein my name is mentioned, and my discourse on religious affections recommended: and am sensible, that by my doing otherwise, I shall bring upon me the reproach of some. But how much soever I may be pleascd with the commendation of any performnaoce of mine, (and I confess, 1 esteem the judgment and appprobation of such a person as Mr. BRAINERD worthy to be valued, and Inok on myself as highly honoured by it), yet I can truly say, the things that governed me in altering my forementioned determination, with respect to those passages, were these two. (1). What Mr. BRAINERD here says of that discourse, shews very fully and particularly what his notions were of experimental religion, and and the pature of truc piety, and how far he was from placing it in impressions on the imagination, or any enthusiastical impulses, and how essential in religion he esteemed holy practice, &c. &c. Por all tbat have read that discourse, know what sentiments are there expressed concerning those things. (2). I judged, that the approbation of 50 apparent and eminent a friend and example of inward vital religion, and evangelical piety in the height of it, would probably tend to make that book more serviceable; especially among some kinds of zealous persons, whose benefit was especially aimed at in the book; some of which are prejudiced against it, as written in too legal a strain, and opposing some things wherein the height of chris. tias experience consists, and tending to build meo upon their own works.
yourself, my brother, to crush all appearances of this nature, among the Indians, and never encourage any degrees of heat without light. Charge my people in the name of their dying minister, yea, in the name of hin who was dead and is alive, to live and walk as becomes the gospel. Tell them, how great the expectations of God and his people are from them, and how awfully they will wound God's cause, if they fall into vice; as well as fatally prejudice other poor Indians. Always insist, that their experiences are rotten, that their joys are delusive, althongh they may have been rapt up into the third heavens in their own conceit by them, unless the main tenour of their lives be spiritual, watchful, and holy. In pressing these things, “thou shalt both save thyself, and those that bear thee."
God knows, I was heartily willing to have served him longer in the work of the ministry, although it had still been attended with all the labours and hardships of past years, if he had seen fit that it should be so: but as his will now appears otherwise, I am fully content, and can with utmost freedom say, “The will of the Lord be done." It affects me, to think of leaving you in a world of sin: my heart pities you, that those storms and tempests are yet before you, which I trust, through grace I am almost delivered from. But “ God lives, and blessed be my Rock :” he is the same almighty Friend : and will, I trust, be your Guide and Helper, as he has been mine.
And now, my dear brother, “ I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and give you inheritance annong all them that are sanctified. May you enjoy the divine presence, both in private and public; and may “the arms of your hands be made strong, by the right hand of the mighty God of Jacob!" Which are the passionate desires and prayers of
Your affectionate dying brother,
A scheme of a dialogue between the various powers and affec
tions of the mind, as they are found alternately whispering
in the godly soul. Mentioned in his diary, Feb. 3, 1744. The understanding introduced; (1.) As discovering its own excellency, and capacity of enjoying the most sublime pleasure and happiness. (2.) As observing its desire equal to its capacity, and incapable of being satisfied with any thing that will not fill it in the utmost extent of its exercise. (3.) As finding itself a dependent thing, not self-sufficient; and consequently unable to spin happiness (as the spider spins its web) out of its own bowels. This self-sufficiency observed to be
the property and prerogative of God alone, and not belonging to any created being. (+.) As in vain seeking sublime pleasure, satisfaction, and happiness adequate to its nature, amongst created beings. The search and knowledge of the truth in the natural world allowed indeed to be refreshing to the mind; but still failing to afford complete happiness. (5.) As discovering the excellency and glory of God, that he is the fountain of goodness, and well-spring of happiness, and every way fit to answer the enlarged desires and cravings of our immortal souls.
2. The will introduced, as necessarily, yet freely choosing this God for its supreme happiness and only portion, fully complying with the understanding's dictates, acquiescing in God as the best good, bis will as the best rule for intelligent creatures, and rejoicing that God is in every respect just what he is; and withal choosing and delighting to be a dependent creature, always subject to this God, not aspiring after selfsufficiency and supremacy, but acquiescing in the contrary.
3. Ardent love or desire introduced, as passionately longing to please and glorify the divine Being, to be in every respect conformed to him, and in that way to enjoy him. This love or desire represented as most genuine; not induced by mean and mercenary views; not primarily springing from selfish hopes of salvation, whereby the divine glories would be sacrificed to the idol self: not arising from a slavish fear of divine anger in case of neglect, nor yet from hopes of feeling the sweetness of that tender and pleasant passion of love in one's own breast; but from a just esteem of the beauteous object beloved. This love further represented, as attended with vehement longings after the enjoyment of its object, but unable to find by what means.
4. The understanding again introduced, as informing, (1.) How God might have been enjoyed, yea, how he must necessarily have been enjoyed, had not man sinned against him; that as there was knowledge, likeness, and love, so there must needs be enjoyment, while there was no impediinent. (2) How he may be enjoyed in some measure now, viz. by the same knowledge, begetting likeness and love, wbich will be answered with returns of love, and the smiles of God's countenance, which are better than life. (3.) How God may be perfectly enjoyed, viz. by the soul's perfect freedom from sin. This perfect freedom never obtained till death; and then not by any unaccountable means, or in any unheard of manner; but the same by which it has obtained some likeness to and fruition of God in this world, viz. a clear manifestation of him.
5. Holy desire appears, and inquires why the soul may not be perfectly holy; and so perfect in the enjoyment of God here; and expresses most insatible thirstings after such a temper, and such fruition, and most consummate blessedness.
6. Understanding again appears, and informs, that God designs that those whom he sanctifies in part here, and intends for immortal glory, shall tarry a while in this present evil world, that their own experience of temptations, &c. may teach them how great the deliverance is, which God has wrought for them, that they may be swallowed up in thankfulness and admiration to eternity; as also that they may be instrumental of doing good to their fellow-men. Now if they were perfectly holy, &c. a world of sin would not be a fit habitation for them: and further, such manifestations of God as are necessary completely to sanctify the soul, would be insupportable to the body, so that we cannot sce God, and live.