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dougkristen
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Joined: 2004/1/28
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 The Diary of David Brainard - Chapter 1

Lord's day, Oct. 19. "In the morning I felt my soul hungering and thirsting after righteousness. While I was looking on the elements of the Lord's Supper, and thinking that Jesus Christ was not "set forth crucified before me", my soul was filled with light and love, so that I was almost in an ecstacy; my body was so weak I could scarcely stand.

I felt at the same time an exceeding tenderness and most fervent love toward all mankind; so that my soul and all its powers seemed, as it were, to melt into softness and sweetness. But during the communion there was some abatement of this life and fervor. This love and joy cast out fear; and my soul longed for perfect grace and glory. This frame continued til the evening, when my soul was sweetly spiritual in secret duties.

Oct. 20. "I again found the assistance of the Holy Spirit in secret duties, both morning and evening, and life and comfort in religion through the whole day.

Oct. 21. "I had likewise experience of the goodness of God in shedding abroad his love in my heart, and giving me delight and consolation in religious duties; and all the remaining part of the week my soul seemed to be taken up with divine things. I now so longed after God, and to be freed from sin, that, when I felt myself recovering, and thought I must return to college again, which had proved so hurtful to my spiritual interests the year past, I could not but be grieved, and thought I had much rather die; for it distressed me to think of getting away from God. But before I went I enjoyed several other sweet and precious seasons of communion with God, (particularly Oct.30, and Nov. 4,) wherein my soul enjoyed unspeakable comfort.

"I returned to college about Nov. 6, and, through the goodness of God, felt the power of religion almost daily, for the space of six weeks.

Nov. 28. "In my evening devotion I enjoyed precious discoveries of God, and was unspeakably refreshed with that passage, Heb. 12:22-24. My soul longed to be conformed to God in all things. - A day or two after I enjoyed much of the light of God's countenance, most of the day; and my soul rested in God.

Dec. 9. "I was in a comfortable frame of soul most of the day; but especially in evening devotions, when God was pleased wonderfully to assist and strengthen me; so that I thought nothing should ever move me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord. Oh! one hour with God infinitely exceeds all the pleasures and delights of this lower world. "Toward the latter part of January, 1741, I grew more cold and dull in religion, by means of my old temptation, ambition in my studies. But though divine goodness, a great and general awakening spread itself over the college, about the end of February, in which I was much quickened, and more abundantly engaged in religion."

This awakening was at the beginning of that extraordinary religious commotion which then prevailed through the land, and in which the college shared largely. For thirteen months from this time Brainerd kept a constant diary containing a very particular account of what passed from day to day, making two volumes of manuscripts; but when he lay on his death bed he gave orders (unknown to me til after his death) that these two volumes should be destroyed, inserting a notice, at the beginning of the succeeding manuscripts, that a specimen of his manner of living during that entire period would be found in the first thirty pages next following, (ending with June 15, 1742,) except that he was now more "reformed from some imprudences and indecent heats" than before. A circumstance in the life of Brainerd, which gave great offence to the rulers of the College, and occasioned his expulsion, it is necessary should be here particularly related. During the awakening in College, there were several religious students who associated together for mutual conversation and assistance in spiritual things. These were wont freely to open themselves one to another, as special and intimate friends: Brainerd was one of this company. And it once happened, the he and two or three more of these intimate friends were in the hall together, after Mr. Whittlesey, one of the tutors, had engaged in prayer with the scholars; no other person now remaining in the hall but Brainerd and his companions. Mr. Whittlesey having been unusually pathetic in his prayer, one of Brainerd's friends on this occasion asked him what he thought of Mr. Whittlesey; he made answer, "He has no more grace than this chair." One of the freshmen happening at that time to be near the hall, (though not in the room,) over-heard these words; and though he heard no name mentioned, and knew not who was thus censured, informed a certain woman in town, withal telling her his own suspicion, that Brainerd said this of some one of the rulers of the College. Whereupon she informed the Rector, who sent for this freshman and examined him. He told the Rector the words which he heard Brainerd utter; and informed him who were in the room with him at that time. Upon this the Rector sent for them. They were very backward to inform against their friend respecting what they looked upon as a private conversation; especially as none but they had heard or knew of whom he had uttered those words: yet the Rector compelled them to declare what he said, and of whom he said it. Brainerd looked on himself as very HI used in the management of this affair; and thought that it was injuriously extorted from his friends, and then injuriously required of him - as if he had been guilty of some open, notorious crime - to make a public confession, and to humble himself before the whole College in the hall, for what he had said only in private conversation. He not complying with this demand, and having gone once to the Separate meeting at New-Haven, when forbidden by the Rector; and also having been accused by one person of saying concerning the Rector, "that he wondered he did not expect to drop down dead for firing the scholars who followed Mr. Tennent to Milford, though there was no proof of it; (and Brainerd ever professed that he did not remember saying any thing to that purpose,) for these things he was expelled from the college.

How far the circumstances and exigencies of that day might justify such great severity in the governors of the college, I will not undertake to determine; it being my aim, not to bring reproach on the authority of the college, but only to do justice to the memory of a person who was, I think, eminently one of those whose memory is blessed. - The reader will see, in the sequel, (particularly under date of September 14,15, 1743,) in how Christian a manner Brainerd conducted himself with respect to this affair; though he ever, as long as he lived, supposed himself ill used in the management of it, and in what he suffered. - His expulsion was in the winter, 1742, while in his third year at college.


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