Thursday, March 3, 2016

from David Brainerd's Diary

Aug. 8, 1745

     "In the afternoon I preached to the Indians, their number was now about 65 persons; men, women and children.  I discoursed upon Luke 14:16-23, 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 mighty rushing wind,'' and with an astonishing energy bore down all before it.  I stood amazed at the influence, which 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 comes in its way.  Almost all persons of all ages were bowed down with concern together, and scarcely 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.  It was apparent that these children, some of them at least, were not merely frightened 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 pawaw 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.  I am led to think they were, to their own apprehensions, 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 thing but themselves, and their own state, and so were every one praying apart, although all together.....
     "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 who were newly awakened, of the badness of their lives and actions; 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.  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.  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 which I cannot fail to notice here.  A young Indian woman, who, I believe, never knew before that 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 that 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 course 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 who spoke to her.  I hearkened to hear what she said, and perceived the burden of her prayer to be......'Have mercy on me, and help me to give you my heart.'  ''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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