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Journal Excerpts Part 5

By David Brainerd


      Aug. 14. Spent the day with the Indians. There was one of them who had some time since put away his wife, (as is common among them,) and taken another woman, and being now brought under some serious impressions, was much concerned about that affair in particular, and seemed fully convinced of the wickedness of that practice, and earnestly desirous to know what God would have him do in his present circumstances. When the law of God respecting marriage had been opened to them, and the cause of his leaving his wife inquired into; and when it appeared she had given him no just occasion by unchastity to desert her, and that she was willing to forgive his past misconduct, and to live peaceably with him for the future, and that she moreover insisted on it as her right to enjoy him; he was then told, that it was his indispensable duty to renounce the woman he had last taken, and receive the other who was his proper wife, and live peaceably with her during life. With this he readily and cheerfully complied, and thereupon publicly renounced the woman he had last taken, and publicly promised to live with and be kind to his wife during life, she also promising the same to him. - And here appeared a clear demonstration of the power of God's word upon their hearts. I suppose a few weeks before, the whole world could not have persuaded this man to a compliance with christian rules in this affair.

      I was not without fears, lest this proceeding might be like putting "new wine into old bottles," and that some might be prejudiced against Christianity, when they saw the demands made by it. But the man being much concerned about the matter, the determination of it could be deferred no longer, and it seemed to have a good, rather than an ill, effect among the Indians, who generally owned, that the laws of Christ were good and right respecting the affairs of marriage. - In the afternoon I preached to them from the apostle's discourse to Cornelius, Acts x. 34, &c. There appeared some affectionate concern among them, though not equal to what appeared in several of the former days. They still attended and heard as for their lives, and the Lord's work seemed still to be promoted, and propagated among them.

      Aug. 15. Preached from Luke iv. 16-21. "And he came to Nazareth," &c. The word was attended with power upon the hearts of the hearers. There was much concern, many tears, and affecting cries among them, and some in a special manner were deeply wounded and distressed for their souls. There were some newly awakened who came but this week, and convictions seemed to be promoted in others. - Those who had received comfort, were likewise refreshed and strengthened, and the work of grace appeared to advance in all respects. The passions of the congregation in general were not so much moved, as in some days past, but their hearts seemed as solemnly and deeply affected with divine truths as ever, at least in many instances, although the concern did not seem to be so universal, and to reach every individual in such a manner as it had appeared to do some days before.

      Aug. 16 Spent a considerable time in conversing privately with sundry of the Indians. Found one that had got relief and comfort, after pressing concern, and could not but hope, when I came to discourse particularly with her, that her comfort was of the right kind. - In the afternoon, I preached to them from John vi. 26-34. Toward the close of my discourse, divine truths were attended with considerable power upon the audience, and more especially after public service was over, when I particularly addressed sundry distressed persons.

      There was a great concern for their souls spread pretty generally among them; but especially there were two persons newly awakened to a sense of their sin and misery, one of whom was lately come, and the other had all along been very attentive, and desirous of being awakened, but could never before have any lively view of her perishing state. But now her concern and spiritual distress was such, that, I thought, I had never seen any more pressing. Sundry old men were also in distress for their souls; so that they could not refrain from weeping and crying out aloud, and their bitter groans were the most convincing, as well as affecting, evidence of the reality and depth of their inward anguish. - God is powerfully at work among them! True and genuine convictions of sin are daily promoted in many instances, and some are newly awakened from time to time, although some few, who felt a commotion in their passions in days past, seem now to discover that their hearts were never duly affected. I never saw the work of God appear so independent of means as at this time. I discoursed to the people, and spoke what, I suppose, had a proper tendency to promote convictions; but God's manner of working upon them appeared so entirely supernatural, and above means, that I could scarce believe he used me as an instrument, or what I spake as means of carrying on his work; for it seemed, as I thought, to have no connexion with, nor dependence upon, means in any respect. And although I could not but continue to use the means which I thought proper for the promotion of the work, yet God seemed, as I apprehended, to work entirely without them. I seemed to do nothing, and indeed to have nothing to do, but to "stand still and see the salvation of God;" and found myself obliged and delighted to say, "Not unto us," not unto instruments and means, "but to thy name be glory." God appeared to work entirely alone, and I saw no room to attribute any part of this work to any created arm.

      Aug. 17. Spent much time in private conferences with the Indians. Found one who had newly obtained relief and comfort, after a long season of spiritual trouble and distress - he having been one of my hearers in the Forks of Delaware for more than a year, and now followed me here under deep concern for his soul - and had abundant reason to hope that his comfort was well grounded, and truly divine. - Afterwards discoursed publicly from Acts viii. 29-39. and took occasion to treat concerning baptism, in order to their being instructed and prepared to partake of that ordinance. They were yet hungry and thirsty for the word of God, and appeared unwearied in their attendance upon it.

      Lord's day, Aug. 18. Preached in the forenoon to an assembly of white people, made up of Presbyterians, Baptist, Quakers, c&. Afterwards preached to the Indians from John vi. 35-40. "He that eateth my flesh," &c. There was considerable concern visible among them, though not equal to what has frequently appeared of late.

      Aug. 19. Preached from Isa. lv. 1. "Ho, every one that thirsteth," &c. Divine truths were attended with power upon those who had received comfort, and others also. The former were sweetly melted and refreshed with divine invitations, the latter much concerned for their souls, that they might obtain an interest in these glorious gospel-provisions that were set before them. There were numbers of poor impotent souls that waited at the pool for healing, and the angel seemed, as at other times of late, to trouble the waters; so that there was yet a most desirable and comfortable prospect of the spiritual recovery of diseased, perishing sinners.

      Aug. 23. Spent some time with the Indians in private discourse; afterwards preached to them from John vi. 44-50. "No man can come to me, except," &c. There was, as has been usual, a great attention and some affection among them. Several appeared deeply concerned for their souls, and could not but express their inward anguish by tears and cries. But the amazing divine influence that has been so powerfully among them in general, seems, at present, in some degree abated, at least in regard of its universality, though many who have got no special comfort, still retain deep impressions of divine things.

      Aug. 24. Spent the forenoon in discoursing to some of the Indians, in order to their receiving the ordinance of baptism. When I had opened the nature of the ordinance, the obligations attending it, the duty of devoting ourselves to God in it, and the privilege of being in covenant with him, sundry of them seemed to be filled with love to God, and delighted with the thoughts of giving up themselves to him in that solemn and public manner, melted and refreshed with the hopes of enjoying the blessed Redeemer.

      Afterwards I discoursed publicly from 1 Thess. iv. 13-17. "But I would not have you be ignorant," &c. There was a solemn attention, and some visible concern and affection in the time of public service, which was afterwards increased by some further exhortation given them to come to Christ, and give up their hearts to him, that they might be fitted to "ascend up and meet him in the air," when he shall "descend with a shout, and the voice of the archangel."

      There were several Indians newly come, who thought their state good, and themselves happy, because they had sometimes lived with the white people under gospel-light, had learned to read, were civil, &c. although they appeared utter strangers to their own hearts, and altogether unacquainted with the power of religion, as well as with the doctrines of grace. With those I discoursed particularly after public worship, and was surprised to see their self-righteous disposition, their strong attachment to the covenant of works for salvation, and the high value they put upon their supposed attainments. - Yet after much discourse, one appeared in a measure convinced, that "by the deeds of the law no flesh living can be justified," and wept bitterly, inquiring "what he must do to be saved!"

      This was very comfortable to others, who had gained some experimental acquaintance with their own hearts; for before they were grieved with the conversation and conduct of these new comers, who boasted of their knowledge, and thought well of themselves, but evidently discovered to those that had any experience of divine truths, that they knew nothing of their own hearts.

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