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Journal Excerpts Part 3

By David Brainerd


      July 23. Preached to the Indians, but had few hearers: those who are constantly at home seem of late to be under some serious impressions of a religious nature.

      July 26. Preached to my people, and afterwards baptized my interpreter's children.

      Lord's day, July 28. Preached again, and perceived my people, at least some of them, more thoughtful than ever about their souls' concerns. I was told by some, that their seeing my interpreter and others baptized, made them more concerned than any thing they had ever seen or heard before. There was indeed a considerable appearance of divine power amongst them when that ordinance was administered. May that divine influence spread and increase more abundantly!

      July 30. Discoursed to a number of my people, and gave them some particular advice and direction, being now about to leave them for the present, in order to renew my visit to the Indians in New Jersey. They were very attentive to my discourse, and earnestly desirous to know when I designed to return to them again.

      CROSSWEEKSUNG, in New Jersey, August, 1745.

      Aug. 3. I visited the Indians in these parts in June last, and tarried with them some considerable time, preaching almost daily: at which season God was pleased to pour upon them a spirit of awakening and concern for their souls, and surprisingly to engage their attention to divine truths. I now found them serious, and a number of them under deep concern for an interest in Christ; their convictions of their sinful and perishing state having, in my absence from them, been much promoted by the labours and endeavours of the Reverend Mr. William Tennent, to whom I had advised them to apply for direction, and whose house they frequented much while I was gone. - I preached to them this day with some view to Rev. xxii. 17. "And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely:" though I could not pretend to handle the subject methodically among them.

      The Lord, I am persuaded, enabled me, in a manner somewhat uncommon, to set before them the Lord Jesus Christ as a kind and compassionate Saviour, inviting distressed and perishing sinners to accept everlasting mercy. And a surprising concern soon became apparent among them. There were about twenty adult persons together, (many of the Indians at remote places not having as yet had time to come since my return hither,) and not above two that I could see with dry eyes. Some were much concerned, and discovered vehement longings of soul after Christ, to save them from the misery they felt and feared.

      Lord's day, Aug. 4. Being invited by a neighbouring minister to assist in the administration of the Lord's supper, I complied with his request, and took the Indians along with me; and not only those that were together the day before, but many more that were coming to hear me; so that there were near fifty in all, old and young. - They attended the several discourses of the day, and some of them that could understand English, were much affected, and all seemed to have their concern in some measure raised.

      Now a change in their manners began to appear very visible. In the evening when they came to sup together, they would not taste a morsel till they had sent to me to come and ask a blessing on their food: at which time sundry of them wept, especially when I minded them how they had in times past eat their feasts in honour to devils, and neglected to thank God for them.

      Aug. 5. After a sermon had been preached by another minister, I preached, and concluded the public work of the solemnity from John vii. 37. "In the last day," &c. and in my discourse addressed the Indians in particular, who sat by themselves in a part of the house; at which time one or two of them were struck with deep concern, as they afterwards told me, who had been little affected before: others had their concern increased to a considerable degree. In the evening (the greater part of them being at the house where I lodged) I discoursed to them, and found them universally engaged about their souls' concerns, inquiring "What they should do to be saved?" And all their conversation among themselves turned upon religious matters, in which they were much assisted by my interpreter, who was with them day and night.

      This day there was one woman, who had been much concerned for her soul, ever since she first heard me preach in June last, who obtained comfort, I trust, solid and well grounded: she seemed to be filled with love to Christ, at the same time behaved humbly and tenderly, and appeared afraid of nothing so much as of grieving and offending him whom her soul loved.

      Aug. 6. In the morning I discoursed to the Indians at the house where I lodged: many of them were then much affected, and appeared surprisingly tender, so that a few words about their souls' concerns would cause the tears to flow freely, and produce many sobs and groans. -

      In the afternoon, they being returned to the place where I had usually preached amongst them, I again discoursed to them there. There were about fifty-five persons in all, about forty that were capable of attending divine service with understanding. I insisted upon 1 John iv. 10. "Herein is love," &c. They seemed eager of hearing; but there appeared nothing very remarkable, except their attention, till near the close of my discourse; and then divine truths were attended with a surprising influence, and produced a great concern among them. There was scarce three in forty that could refrain from tears and bitter cries. They all, as one, seemed in an agony of soul to obtain an interest in Christ; and the more I discoursed of the love and compassion of God in sending his Son to suffer for the sins of men, and the more I invited them to come and partake of his love, the more their distress was aggravated, because they felt themselves unable to come. - It was surprising to see how their hearts seemed to be pierced with the tender and melting invitations of the gospel, when there was not a word of terror spoken to them.

      There were this day two persons that obtained relief and comfort, which (when I came to discourse with them particularly) appeared solid, rational, and scriptural. After I had inquired into the grounds of their comfort, and said many things I thought proper to them, I asked them what they wanted God to do further for them? They replied, "They wanted Christ should wipe their hearts quite clean," &c. - Surprising were now the doings of the Lord, that I can say no less of this day (and I need say no more of it) than that the arm of the Lord was powerfully and marvellously revealed in it.

      Aug. 7 Preached to the Indians from Isa. liii. 3.-10. There was a remarkable influence attending the word, and great concern in the assembly; but scarce equal to what appeared the day before, that is, not quite so universal. However, most were much affected, and many in great distress for their souls; and some few could neither go nor stand, but lay flat on the ground, as if pierced at heart, crying incessantly for mercy. Several were newly awakened, and it was remarkable, that as fast as they came from remote places round about, the Spirit of God seemed to seize them with concern for their souls.

      After public service was concluded, I found two persons more that had newly met with comfort, of whom I had good hopes: and a third that I could not but entertain some hopes of, whose case did not appear so clear as the other; so that here were now six in all that had got some relief from their spiritual distresses, and five whose experience appeared very clear and satisfactory. And it is worthy or remark, that those who obtained comfort first, were in general deeply affected with concern for their souls, when I preached to them in June last.

      Aug. 8. In the afternoon I preached to the Indians; their number was about sixty-five persons, men, women, and children: I discoursed from Luke xiv. 16-23. and was favoured with uncommon freedom in my discourse. - There was much visible concern among them while I was discoursing publicly; but afterwards when I spoke to one and another more particularly, whom I perceived under much concern, the power of God seemed to descend upon the assembly "like a rushing mighty wind," and with an astonishing energy bore down all before it.

      I stood amazed at the influence that seized the audience almost universally, and could compare it to nothing more aptly than the irresistible force of a mighty torrent or swelling deluge, that with its insupportable weight and pressure bears down and sweeps before it whatever is in its way. Almost all persons of all ages were bowed down with concern together, and scarce one was able to withstand the shock of this surprising operation. Old men and women who had been drunken wretches for many years, and some little children not more than six or seven years of age, appeared in distress for their souls, as well as persons of middle age. And it was apparent these children (some of them at least) were not merely frighted with seeing the general concern; but were made sensible of their danger, the badness of their hearts, and their misery without Christ, as some of them expressed it. The most stubborn hearts were now obliged to bow. A principal man among the Indians, who before was most secure and self-righteous, and thought his state good because he knew more than the generality of the Indians had formerly done, and who with a great degree of confidence the day before, told me "he had been a Christian more than ten years," was now brought under solemn concern for his soul, and wept bitterly. Another man advanced in years, who had been a murderer, a powow, (or conjurer,) and a notorious drunkard, was likewise brought now to cry for mercy with many tears, and to complain much that he could be no more concerned when he saw his danger so very great.

      They were almost universally praying and crying for mercy in every part of the house, and many out of doors, and numbers could neither go nor stand. Their concern was so great, each one for himself, that none seemed to take any notice of those about them, but each prayed freely for himself. And, I am led to think, they were to their own apprehension as much retired as if they had been individually by themselves in the thickest desert; or, I believe rather, that they thought nothing about any but themselves and their own states, and so were every one praying apart, although all together.

      It seemed to me there was now an exact fulfilment of that prophecy, Zech. xii. 10, 11, 12. for there was now "a great mourning, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon;" - and each seemed to "mourn apart." Methought this had a near resemblance to the day of God's power mentioned Josh. x. 14. for I must say, I never saw any day like it in all respects: it was a day wherein I am persuaded the Lord did much to destroy the kingdom of darkness among this people.

      This concern in general was most rational and just, those who had been awakened any considerable time, complained more especially of the badness of their hearts; and those newly awakened of the badness of their lives and actions past; and all were afraid of the anger of God, and of everlasting misery as the desert of their sins. - Some of the white people, who came out of curiosity to "hear what this babbler would say" to the poor ignorant Indians, were much awakened, and some appeared to be wounded with a view of their perishing state.

      Those who had lately obtained relief, were filled with comfort at this season; they appeared calm and composed, and seemed to rejoice in Christ Jesus; and some of them took their distressed friends by the hand, telling them of the goodness of Christ, and the comfort that is to be enjoyed in him, and thence invited them to come and give up their hearts to him. And I could observe some of them in the most honest and unaffected manner, (without any design of being taken notice of,) lifting up their eyes to heaven, as if crying for mercy, while they saw the distress of the poor souls around them.

      There was one remarkable instance of awakening this day, that I cannot but take particular notice of here. A young Indian woman, who I believe never knew before she had a soul, nor ever thought of any such thing, hearing that there was something strange among the Indians, came it seems to see what was the matter. In her way to the Indians she called at my lodgings, and when I told her I designed presently to preach to the Indians, laughed and seemed to mock; but went however to them. I had not proceeded far in my public discourse before she felt effectually that she had a soul; and before I had concluded my discourse, was so convinced of her sin and misery, and so distressed with concern for her soul's salvation, that she seemed like one pierced through with a dart, and cried out incessantly. She could neither go nor stand, nor sit on her seat without being held up. After public service was over, she lay flat on the ground praying earnestly, and would take no notice of, nor give any answer to, any that spoke to her. I hearkened to know what she said, and perceived the burden of her prayer to be, Guttummaukalummeh wechaumeh kmeleh Ndah, i.e. "Have mercy on me, and help me to give you my heart." And thus she continued praying incessantly for many hours together. - This was indeed a surprising day of God's power, and seemed enough to convince an atheist of the truth, importance, and power of God's word.

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