FROM ABOUT THE TIME THAT HE FIRST BEGAN TO DEVOTE HIMSELF MORE ESPECIALLY TO THE STUDY OF DIVINITY, TILL HE WAS EXAMINED AND LICENSED TO PREACH, BY THE ASSOCIATION OF MINISTERS BELONGING TO THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF THE COUNTY OF FAIRFIELD, IN CONNECTICUT.
MR. BRAINERD, the Spring after his expulsion, went to live with the Reverend Mr. Mills, of Ripton, to pursue his studies with him, in order to his being fitted for the work of the ministry; where he spent the greater part of the time, till 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.
“Thursday, April 1, 1742. I seem to be declining, with respect to my life and warmth in divine things; had not so free access to God in prayer as usual of late. O 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 being and every act of grace. Oh, if ever I get to heaven, it will be because God will, 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.
“Friday, 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!--Some time 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. O 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.
* Particularly under the date, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 1713.
“Saturday, 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. O 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.
“Tuesday, 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 tremble. 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.
“Wednesday, April 7. I had not so much fervency, but felt something 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.
“Thursday, April 8. Had raised hopes to-day respecting the heathen. O that God would bring in great numbers of them to Jesus Christ! I cannot but hope 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.
“Friday, 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.
“Saturday, April 10. Spent much time in secret prayer this morning, and not without some comfort in divine things; and, I hope, 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. O 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, excepting 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.
“Monday, 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. And 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, that I could not look over of late. I wanted not the favour of man to lean upon; for I knew 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.
“Tuesday, April 13. I saw myself to be very mean and vile; and wondered at those that 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. O that I may never distrust infinite goodness!
“Wednesday, 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.
“Thursday, April 15. My desires apparently centred in God, and I found a sensible attraction of soul after him sundry times to-day. I know 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.
“Friday and Saturday, April 16, 17. I seldom prayed without some sensible joy in the Lord. Sometimes I longed much to be dissolved, and to be with Christ. O 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:* O 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 shortcomings: 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 my life.
“Monday, 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 word; 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 special 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 for 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.--O that I may always live to and upon my blessed God! Amen, Amen.
“Tuesday, April 20. This day I am twenty-four years of age. O 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 for ever 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.
“Wednesday, 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 let me come near to him, and plead with him.”
The frame of mind, and exercises of soul, that he expresses the three days next following, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, are much of the same kind with those expressed the two days past.
“Lord's day, April 25. This morning I spent about two hours in secret duties, and was enabled more than ordinarily to agonize for immortal souls; though it was early in the morning, and the sun scarcely shined at all, yet my body was quite wet with sweat. I felt much pressed now, as frequently of late, to plead for the meekness and calmness of the Lamb of God in my soul; and through divine goodness felt much of it this morning. O it is a sweet disposition, heartily to forgive all injuries done us; to wish our greatest enemies as well as we do our own souls! Blessed Jesus, may I daily be more and more conformed to thee. At night I was exceedingly melted with divine love, and had some feeling sense of the blessedness of the upper world. Those words hung upon me, with much divine sweetness, Psal. lxxxiv. 7. ‘They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.' O the near access that sometimes gives us in our addresses to him! This may well be termed appearing before God: it is so indeed, in the true spiritual sense, and in the sweetest sense. I think I have not had such power of intercession these many months, both for God's children, and for dead sinners, as I have had this evening. I wished and longed for the coming of my dear Lord: I longed to join the angelic hosts in praises, wholly free from imperfection. O the blessed moment hastens! All I want is to be more holy, more like my dear Lord. O for sanctification! My very soul pants for the complete restoration of the blessed image of my Saviour; that I may be fit for the blessed enjoyments and employments of the heavenly world.‘Farewell, vain world; my soul can bid adieu;
My Saviour's taught me to abandon you.
Your charms may gratify a sensual mind;
Not please a soul wholly for God design'd.
Forbear to entice, cease then my soul to call;
‘Tis fix'd through grace; my God shall be my all.
While he thus lets me heavenly glories view,
Your beauties fade, my heart's no room for you.'
“The Lord refreshed my soul with many sweet passages of his word. O the new Jerusalem! my soul longed for it. O the song of Moses and the Lamb! And that blessed song, that no man can learn, but they who are redeemed from the earth! and the glorious white robes, that were given to the souls under the attar!
‘Lord, I'm a stranger here alone;
Earth no true comforts can afford;
Yet, absent from my dearest one,
My soul delights to cry, My Lord.
Jesus, my Lord, my only love,
Possess my soul, nor thence depart;
Grant me kind visits, heavenly Dove;
My God shall then have all my heart.'
“Monday, April 26. Continued in a sweet frame of mind; but in the afternoon felt something of spiritual pride stirring. God was pleased to make it an humbling season at first; though afterwards he gave me sweetness. O my soul exceedingly longs for that blessed state of perfect deliverance from all sin!--At night, God enabled me to give my soul up to him, to cast myself upon him, to be ordered and disposed of according to his sovereign pleasure; and I enjoyed great peace and consolation in so doing. My soul took sweet delight in God; my thoughts freely and sweetly centred in him. O that I could spend every moment of my life to his glory!
“Tuesday, April 27. I retired pretty early for secret devotions; and in prayer God was pleased to pour such ineffable comforts into my soul, that I could do nothing for some time but say over and over, ‘O my sweet Saviour! O my sweet Saviour! whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.' If I had had a thousand lives, my soul would gladly have laid them all down at once to have been with CHRIST. My soul never enjoyed so much of heaven before; it was the most refined and the most spiritual season of communion with God I ever yet felt. I never felt so great a degree of resignation in my life. In the afternoon I withdrew to meet with my God, but found myself much declined, and God made it an humbling season to my soul. I mourned over the body of death that is in me. It grieved me exceedingly, that I could not pray to and praise God with my heart full of divine heavenly love.--O that my soul might never offer any dead, cold services to my God!--In the evening had not so much divine love, as in the morning; but had a sweet season of fervent intercession.
“Wednesday, April 28. I withdrew to my usual place of retirement in great peace and tranquillity, spent about two hours in secret duties, and felt much as I did yesterday morning, only weaker and more overcome. I seemed to depend wholly on my dear Lord; wholly weaned from all other dependences. I knew not what to say to my God, but only lean on his bosom, as it were, and breathe out my desires after a perfect conformity to him in all things. Thirsting desires, and insatiable longings, possessed my soul after perfect holiness. God was so precious to my soul, that the world with all its enjoyments was infinitely vile. I had no more value for the favour of men, than for pebbles. The LORD was my ALL; and that he overruled all, greatly delighted me. I think, my faith and dependence on God scarce ever rose so high. I saw him such a fountain of goodness, that it seemed impossible I should distrust him again, or be any way anxious about any thing that should happen to me. I now enjoyed great sweetness in praying for absent friends, and for the enlargement of Christ's kingdom in the world.--Much of the power of these divine enjoyments remained with me through the day.--In the evening my heart seemed to melt, and, I trust, was really humbled or indwelling corruption, and I mourned like a dove. I felt, that all my unhappiness arose from my being a sinner. With resignation I could bid welcome to all other trials; but sin hung heavy upon me; for God discovered to me the corruption of my heart. I went to bed with a heavy heart, because I was a sinner; though I did not in the least doubt of God's love. O that God would purge away my dross, and take away my tin, and make me seven times refined!
* In America, they begin to keep the Lord's day from six o'clock on Saturday evening.
“Thursday, April 29. I was kept off at a distance from God;--but had some enlargement in intercession for precious souls.
“Friday, April 30. I was somewhat dejected in spirit: nothing grieves me so much, as that I cannot live constantly to God's glory. I could bear any desertion or spiritual conflicts, if I could but have my heart all the while burning within me with love to God and desires of his glory. But this is impossible; for when I feel these, I cannot be dejected in my soul, but only rejoice in my Saviour, who has delivered me from the reigning power, and will shortly deliver me from the indwelling of sin.
“Saturday, May 1. I was enabled to cry to God with fervency for ministerial qualifications, that he would appear for the advancement of his own kingdom, and that he would bring in the heathen, &c. Had much assistance in my studies.--This has been a profitable week to me; I have enjoyed many communications of the blessed Spirit in my soul.
“Lord's day, May 2. God was pleased this morning to give me such a sight of myself, as made me appear very vile in my own eyes. I felt corruption stirring in my heart, which I could by no means suppress; felt more and more deserted; was exceeding weak, and almost sick with my inward trials.
“Monday, May 3. Had a sense of vile ingratitude. In the morning I withdrew to my usual place of retirement, and mourned for my abuse of my dear Lord: spent the day in fasting and prayer. God gave me much power of wrestling for his cause and kingdom; and it was a happy day to my soul. God was with me all the day, and I was more above the world than ever in my life.”
Through the remaining part of this week he complains almost every day of desertion, inward trials and conflicts, attended with dejection of spirit; but yet speaks of times of relief and sweetness, and daily refreshing visits of the divine Spirit, affording special assistance and comfort, and enabling, at some times, to much fervency and enlargement in religious duties.
“Lord's day, May 9. I think I never felt so much of the cursed pride of my heart, as well as the stubbornness of my will, before. Oh dreadful! what a vile wretch I am! I could submit to be nothing, and to lie down in the dust. O that God would humble me in the dust! I felt myself such a sinner, all day, that I had scarce any comfort. O when shall I be delivered from the body of this death! I greatly feared, lest through stupidity and carelessness I should lose the benefit of these trials. O that they might be sanctified to my soul! Nothing seemed to touch me but only this, that I was a sinner.--Had a fervency and refreshment in social prayer in the evening.
“Monday, May 10. I rode to New-Haven; saw some christian friends there; and had comfort in joining in prayer with them, and hearing of the goodness of God to them, since I last saw them.
“Tuesday, May 11. I rode from New-Haven to Weathersfield; was very dull most of the day; had little spirituality in this journey, though I often longed to be alone with God; was much perplexed with vile thoughts; was sometimes afraid of every thing: but God was my helper.--Catched a little time for retirement in the evening, to my comfort and rejoicing. Alas! I cannot live in the midst of a tumult. I long to enjoy God alone.
“Wednesday, May 12. I had a distressing view of the pride, enmity, and vileness of my heart.--Afterwards had sweet refreshment in conversing, and worshipping God, with christian friends.
“Thursday, May 13. Saw so much of the wickedness of my heart, that I longed to get away from myself. I never before thought there was so much spiritual pride in my soul. I felt almost pressed to death with my own vileness. Oh what a body of death is there in me! Lord, deliver my soul. I could not find any convenient place for retirement, and was greatly exercised.--Rode to Hartford in the afternoon: had some refreshment and comfort in religious exercises with christian friends; but longed for more retirement. O the closest walk with God is the sweetest heaven that can be enjoyed on earth!
“Friday, May 14. I waited on a council of ministers convened at Hartford, and spread before them the treatment I had met with from the rector and tutors of Yale college; who thought it adviseable to intercede for me with the rector and trustees, and to entreat them to restore me to my former privileges in college.*--After this, spent some time in religious exercises with christian friends.
“Saturday, May 15. I rode from Hartford to Hebron; was somewhat dejected on the road; appeared exceeding vile in my own eyes, saw much pride and stubbornness in my heart. Indeed I never saw such a week as this before; for I have been almost ready to die with the view of the wickedness of my heart. I could not have thought I had such a body of death in me. Oh that God would deliver my soul!”
The three next days (which he spent at Hebron, Lebanon, and Norwich) he complains still of dulness and desertion, and expresses a sense of his vileness, and longing to hide himself in some cave or den of the earth: but yet speaks of some intervals of comfort and soul-refreshment each day.
“Wednesday, May 19. (At Millington) I was so amazingly deserted this morning, that I seemed to feel a sort of horror in my soul. Alas! when God withdraws, what is there that can afford any comfort to the soul!”
Through the eight days next following he expresses more calmness and comfort, and considerable life, fervency, and sweetness in religion.
“Friday, May 28. (At New-Haven) I think I scarce ever felt so calm in my life; I rejoiced in resignation, and giving myself up to God, to be wholly and entirely devoted to him for ever.”
On the three following days there was, by the account he gives, a continuance of the same excellent frame of mind, last expressed: but it seems not to be altogether to so great a degree.
“Tuesday, June 1. Had much of the presence of God in family prayer, and had some comfort in secret. I was greatly refreshed from the word of God this morning, which appeared exceeding sweet to me: some things that appeared mysterious, were opened to me. O that the kingdom of the dear Saviour might come with power, and the healing waters of the sanctuary spread far and wide for the healing of the nations!--Came to Ripton; but was very weak. However, being visited by a number of young people in the evening, I prayed with them.”
The remaining part of this week he speaks of being much diverted and hindered in the business of religion, by great weakness of body, and necessary affairs he had to attend; and complains of having but little power in religion; but signifies, that God hereby showed him he was like a helpless infant cast out in the open field.
“Lord's day, June 6. I feel much deserted: but all this teaches me my nothingness and vileness more than ever.
* The application which was then made an his behalf, had not the desired success.
“Monday, June 7. Felt still powerless in secret prayer. Afterwards I prayed and conversed with some little life. God feeds me with crumbs: blessed be his name for any thing. I felt a great desire, that all God's people might know how mean and little and vile I am; that they might see I am nothing, that so they might pray for me aright, and not have the least dependence upon me.
“Tuesday, June 8. I enjoyed one sweet and precious season this day: I never felt it so sweet to be nothing, and less than nothing, and to be accounted nothing.”
The three next days he complains of desertion, and want of fervency in religion; but yet his diary shows that every day his heart was engaged in religion, as his great, and, as it were, only business.
“Saturday, June 12. Spent much time in prayer this morning, and enjoyed much sweetness:--felt insatiable longings after God much of the day. I wondered how poor souls do to live that have no God.--The world, with all its enjoyments, quite vanished. I see myself very helpless: but I have a blessed God to go to. I longed exceedingly to be dissolved, and to be with Christ, to behold his glory. Oh, my weak, weary soul longs to arrive at my Father's house!
“Lord's day, June 13. Felt something calm and resigned in the public worship: at the sacrament saw myself very vile and worthless. O that I may always lie low in the dust. My soul seemed steadily to go forth after God, in longing desires to live upon him.
“Monday, June 14. Felt something of the sweetness of communion with God, and the constraining force of his love: how admirably it captivates the soul, and makes all the desires and affections to centre in God!--I set apart this day for secret fasting and prayer, to entreat God to direct and bless me with regard to the great work I have in view, of preaching the gospel; and that the Lord would return to me, and show me the light of his countenance. Had little life and power in the forenoon: near the middle of the afternoon, God enabled me to wrestle ardently in intercession for absent friends:--but just at night, the Lord visited me marvellously in prayer: I think my soul never was in such an agony before. I felt no restraint; for the treasures of divine grace were opened to me. I wrestled for absent friends, for the ingathering of souls, for multitudes of poor souls, and for many that I thought were the children of God, personally, in many distant places. I was in such an agony, from sun half an hour high, till near dark, that I was all over wet with sweat; but yet it seemed to me that I had wasted away the day, and had done nothing. Oh, my dear Jesus did sweat blood for poor souls! I longed for more compassion towards them.--Felt still in a sweet frame, under a sense of divine love and grace; and went to bed in such a frame, with my heart set on God.
“Tuesday, June 15. Had the most ardent longings after God that ever I felt in my life: at noon, in my secret retirement, I could do nothing but tell my dear Lord, in a sweet calm, that he knew I longed for nothing but himself, nothing but holiness; that he had given me these desires, and he only could give me the thing desired. I never seemed to be so unhinged from myself, and to be so wholly devoted to God. My heart was swallowed up in God most of the day. In the evening I had such a view of the soul being as it were enlarged, to contain more holiness, that it seemed ready to separate from my body. I then wrestled in an agony for divine blessings; had my heart drawn out in prayer for some christian friends, beyond what I ever had before.--I feel differently now from whatever I did under any enjoyments before; more engaged to live to God for ever, and less pleased with my own frames. I am not satisfied with my frames, nor feel at all more easy after such strugglings than before; for it seems far too little, if I could always be so. Oh how short do I fall of my duty in my sweetest moments!”
In his diary for the two next days he expresses something of the same frame, but in a far less degree.*
“Friday, June 18. Considering my great unfitness for the work of the ministry, my present deadness, and total inability to do any thing for the glory of God that way, feeling myself very helpless, and at a great loss what the Lord would have to do; I set apart this day for prayer to God, and spent most of the day in that duty, but amazingly deserted most of the day. Yet I found God graciously near, once in particular; while I was pleading, for more compassion for immortal souls, my heart seemed to be opened at once, and I was enabled to cry with great ardency, for a few minutes.--Oh, I was distressed to think, that I should offer such dead, cold services to the living God! My soul seemed to breathe after holiness, a life of constant devotedness to God. But I am almost lost sometimes in the pursuit of this blessedness, and ready to sink, because I continually fall short and miss of my desire. O that the Lord would help me to hold out, yet a little while, till the happy hour of deliverance comes!
“Saturday, June 19. Felt much disordered; my spirits were very low: but yet enjoyed some freedom and sweetness in the duties of religion. Blessed be God.
“Lord's day, June 20. Spent much time alone. My soul longed to be holy, and reached after God; but seemed not to obtain my desire. I hungered and thirsted; but was not refreshed and satisfied. My soul hung on God, as my only portion. O that I could grow in grace more abundantly every day!”
The next day he speaks of his having assistance in his studies, and power, fervency, and comfort in prayer.
“Tuesday, June 22. In the morning spent about two hours in prayer and meditation, with considerable delight. Towards night, felt my soul go out in longing desires after God, in secret retirement. In the evening, was sweetly composed and resigned to God's will; was enabled to leave myself and all my concerns with him, and to have my whole dependence upon him. My secret retirement was very refreshing to my soul; it appeared such a happiness to have God for my portion, that I had rather be any other creature in this lower creation, than not come to the enjoyment of God. I had rather be a beast, than a man without God, if I were to live here to eternity. Lord, endear thyself more to me!”
In his diary for the next seven days he expresses a variety of exercises of mind. He speaks of great longings after God and holiness, and earnest desires for the conversion of others; of fervency in prayer, power to wrestle with God, composure, comfort, and sweetness, from time to time; but expresses a sense of the vile abomination of his heart, and bitterly complains of his barrenness, and the pressing body of death; and says, he “saw clearly that whatever he enjoyed, better than hell, was of free grace.” He complains of being exceeding low, much below the character of a child of God; and is sometimes very disconsolate and dejected.
“Wednesday, June 30. Spent this day alone in the woods, in fasting and prayer; underwent the most dreadful conflicts in my soul that ever I felt, in some respects. I saw myself so vile, that I was ready to say, “I shall now perish by the hand of Saul.” I thought, and almost concluded, I had no power to stand for the cause of God, but was almost “afraid of the shaking of a leaf.” Spent almost the whole day in prayer, incessantly. I could not bear to think of Christians showing me any respect. I almost despaired of doing any service in the world: I could not feel any hope or comfort respecting the heathen, which used to afford me some refreshment in the darkest hours of this nature. I spent the day in the bitterness of my soul. Near night, I felt a little better; and afterwards enjoyed some sweetness in secret prayer.
“Thursday, July 1. Had some sweetness in prayer this morning.--Felt exceeding sweetly in secret prayer to-night, and desired nothing so ardently as that God should do with me just as he pleased.
“Friday, July 2. Felt composed in secret prayer in the morning.--My desires ascended to God this day, as I was travelling: and was comfortable in the evening. Blessed be God for all my consolation.
“Saturday, July 3. My heart seemed again to sink.
* Here end the 30 first pages of the third volume of his diary, which he speaks of in the beginning of this volume, (as observed before,) as containing a specimen of his ordinary manner of living, through the whole space of time, from the beginning of those two volumes that were destroyed.
The disgrace I was laid under at college, seemed to damp me; as it opens the mouths of opposers. I had no refuge but in God. Blessed be his name, that I may go to him at all times, and find him a present help.
“Lord's day, July 4. Had considerable assistance. In the evening I withdrew, and enjoyed a happy season in secret prayer. God was pleased to give me the exercise of faith, and thereby brought the invisible and eternal world near to my soul; which appeared sweetly to me. I hoped, that my weary pilgrimage in the world would be short; and that it would not be long before I was brought to my heavenly home and Father's house. I was resigned to God's will, to tarry his time, to do his work, and suffer his pleasure. I felt thankfulness to God for all my pressing desertions of late; for I am persuaded they have been made a means of making me more humble, and much more resigned. I felt pleased, to be little, to be nothing, and to lie in the dust. I enjoyed life and consolation in pleading for the dear children of God, and the kingdom of Christ in the world; and my soul earnestly breathed after holiness, and the enjoyment of God. O come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.”
By his diary for the remaining days of this week, it appears that he enjoyed considerable composure and tranquillity, and had sweetness and fervency of spirit in prayer, from day to day.
“Lord's day, July 11. Was deserted, and exceedingly dejected, in the morning. In the afternoon, had some life and assistance, and felt resigned. I saw myself exceeding vile.”
On the two next days he expresses inward comfort, resignation, and strength in God.
“Wednesday, July 14. Felt a kind of humble resigned sweetness: spent a considerable time in secret, giving myself up wholly to the Lord.--Heard Mr. Bellamy preach towards night: felt very sweetly part of the time: longed for nearer access to God.”
The four next days he expresses considerable comfort and fervency of spirit, in christian conversation and religious exercises.
“Monday, July 19. My desires seem especially to be carried out after weanedness from the world, perfect deadness to it, and to be even crucified to all its allurements. My soul longs to feel itself more of a pilgrim and stranger here below; that nothing may divert me from pressing through the lonely desert, till I arrive at my Father's house.
“Tuesday, July 20. It was sweet to give away myself to God, to be disposed of at his pleasure; and had some feeling sense of the sweetness of being a pilgrim on earth.”
The next day he expresses himself as determined to be wholly devoted to God; and it appears by his diary, that he spent the whole day in a most diligent exercise of religion, and exceeding comfortably.
“Thursday, July 22. Journeying from Southbury to Ripton, I called at a house by the way; where being very kindly entertained and refreshed, I was filled with amazement and shame, that God should stir up the hearts of any to show so much kindness to such a dead dog as I; was made sensible, in some measure, how exceedingly vile it is, not to be wholly devoted to God. I wondered that God would suffer any of his creatures to feed and sustain me from time to time.”
In his diary for the six next days are expressed various exercises and experiences; such as, sweet composure and fervency of spirit in meditation and prayer, weanedness from the world, being sensibly a pilgrim and stranger on the earth, engagedness of mind to spend every inch of time for God, &c.
“Thursday, July 29. I was examined by the Association met at Danbury, as to my learning, and also my experiences in religion, and received a licence from them to preach the gospel of Christ. Afterwards felt much devoted to God; joined in prayer with one of the ministers, my peculiar friend, in a convenient place; went to bed resolving to live devoted to God all my days.