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and improve, we have not only an instance of mortality, but an instance of one that, being absent from the body, is present with the Lord; as we have all imaginable reason to conclude. And that, whether we consider the nature of the operations he was under, about the time whence he dates his conversion, or the nature and course of his inward exercises from that time forward, or his outward conversa. tion and practice in life, or his frame and behaviour during the whole of that long season wherein he looked death in the face.
His convictions of sin, preceding his first consolations in Christ, (as appears by a written account he has left of his inward exercises and experiences,) were exceeding deep and thorough. His trouble and exercise of mind, through a sense of guilt and misery, were very great and long-continued, but yet sound and solid ; consisting in no unsteady, violent; unaccountable hurries and frights, and strange perturbations of mind; but arising from the most serious consideration, and proper illumination of the conscience to discern and consider the true state of things. And the light let into his mind at conversion, and the influences and exercises that his mind was subject to at that time, appear very agreeable to reason and the gospel of Jesus Christ; the change very great and remarkable, without any appearance of strong impressions on the imagination, sudden flights and pangs of the affections, and vehement emotions in animal nature; but attended with proper intellectual views of the supreme glory of the divine Being, consisting in the infinite dignity and beauty of the perfections of his nature, and of the transcendent excellency of the way of salvation by Christ. This was about eight years ago, when he was about twenty-one years of age.
Thus God sanctified, and made meet for his use, that vessel wbich he intended to make of eminent honour in his house, and which he had made of large capacity, having endowed him with very uncommon abilities and gifts of nature. He was a singular instance of a ready invention, natural eloquence, easy flowing expression, sprightly apprehension, quick discernment, and very strong memory; and yet of a very penetrating genius, close and clear thought, and piercing judgment. He had an exact taste. His understanding was quick, strong, and distinguishing.
His learning was very considerable, for which he had a great taste; and he applied himself to his studies in so close
manner when he was at college, that he much injured his health; and was obliged on that account for awhile to leave his studies, and return home. He was esteemed one that excelled in learning in that society.
He had an extraordinary knowledge of men, as well as
things; had a great insight into human nature, and excelled most that ever I knew in a communicative faculty. He had a peculiar talent at accommodating himself to the capacities, tempers, and circumstances of those whom he would instruct or counsel.
He had extraordinary gifts for the pulpit. I never had an opportunity to hear him preach, but bave often heard him pray; and I think bis manner of addressing himself to God, and expressing himself before him, in that duty, almost inimitable; such (so far as I may judge) as I have very rarely known equalled. He expressed himself with that exact propriety and pertinency, in such significant, weighty, pungent expressions; with that decent appearance of sincerity, reverence, and solemnity, and great distance from all affectation, as forgetting the presence of men, and as being in the immediate presence of a great and holy God, that I have scarcely ever known paralleled. And bis manner of preaching, by what I have often heard of it from good judges, was no less excellent; being clear and instructive, natural, nervous, forcible, moving, and very searching and convincing.--He rejected with disgust an affected noisiness, and violent boisterousness in the pulpit; and yet much disrelished a flat cold delivery, when the subject of discourse, and matter delivered, required affection and earnestness.
Not only had he excellent talents for the study and the pulpit, but also for conversation. He was of a sociable disposition; and was remarkably free, entertaining, and profitable in his ordinary discourse : And had much of a faculty of disputing, defending truth and confuting error.
As he excelled in his judgment and knowledge of things in general, so especially in divinity. He was truly, for one of his standing, an extraordinary divine. But above all, in matters relating to experimental religion. In this I know I have the concurring opinion of some who have had a name for persons of the best judgment. And according to what ability I have to judge of things of this nature, and according to my opportunities, which of late have been very great, I never knew his equal, of his age and standing, for clear, accurate notions of the nature and essence of true religion, and its distinctions from its various false appearances; which I suppose to be owing to these three things meeting together in him: the strength of bis natural genius; and the great opportunities he had of observing others, in various parts, both white people and Indians; and his own great experience.
His experiences of the holy influences of God's Spirit were not only great at his first conversion, but they were 60 in a continued course, from that time forward; as appears
by a private journal which he kept of his daily inward exercises, from the time of his conversion, until he was disabled by the failing of his strength, a few days before his death. The change which he looked upon as his conversion, was not merely a great change of the present views, affections, and frame of his mind; but also the beginning of that work of God on his heart, which God carried on from that time to his dying day.* He greatly abhorred the way of such as live on their first work, as though they had now got through their work, and who are thenceforward, by degrees, settled in a cold, lifeless, negligent worldly frame; he had an ill opinion of such persons' religion.
His experiences were very diverse from many things that have lately obtained the reputation, with multitudes, of the very height of Christian experience. About the time that the false religion, which arises chiefly from impressions on the imagination, began first to make a very great appearance in the land, he was for a little while deceived with it so as to think highly of it. And though he knew he never had such experiences as others told of, he thought it was because others' attainments were beyond his; and so coveted them, and sought after them, but could never obtain them. He told me, that he never had what is called an impulse, or a strong impression on his imagination, in things of religion, in his life. But owned, that during the short time that he thought well of these things, lie was tinged with that spirit of false zeal that is wont to attend them. But said that then he was not in
This more abundantly appears by further opportunity of acquaintance with bis diary, since this sermon was delivered. Grace in bin seems to bave been almost continually, with scarcely the intermission of a day, in a very sensible, and indeed vigorous and powerful exercise, in one respect or other. His heart appears to have been exercised, in a continued course, in such things as these, vis, the most ardent and pure love to God; great weanedness from the world, and sense of its vanity ; great humiliation; a most abasing sense of his own vileness; a deep sense of in-dwelling sin, which indeed was most evidently, by far the greatest burden of his life, and more thao all other afflictions that he met with put together; great brokenness of heart before God, for his smail attainments in grace, that he loved God so little, &c.; mourning that he was so unprofitable; longings and earnest reachings of soul after holiness; earnest desires that God might be glorified, and that Christ's kingdom might be advanced in the world: wrestlings with God in prayer for these things; delight in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the way of salvation by hin; sweet complacence in those whose conversation savoured of troe holiness; compassion to the souls of men, and earnest intercessions in secret for them; great resignation to the will of God; a very frequent, inost sensible renewed renunciation of all things for Christ, and giving up himself wholly to God, in soul and body: great distrust of his own heart, and universal dependence on God; longings after full deliverance from the body of sin and death, and perfect conformity to God, and perfectly glorifying him in heaven; clear views of eternity, almost as though he were actually out of the body, and had his eyes open in another world; constant watchfulness over his own heart, and continual earnestners in his inward warfare with sin ; together with great care, to the utmost, to improye time for God, in his service, and to bis glory,
his element, but as a fish out of water. And when, after a little while, he came clearly to see the vanity and perniciousness of such things, it cost him abundance of sorrow and distress of mind, and to my knowledge he afterwards freely and openly confessed the errors in conduct that he had run into, and laid himself low before them whom he had offended. And since his conviction of his error in those respects, he has ever had a peculiar abhorrence of that kind of bitter zeal, and those delusive experiences that have been the principal source of it. He detested enthusiasm in all its forms and operations; and abhorred whatever in opinion or experience seemed to verge towards Antinomianism; as, the experiences of those whose first faith consists in believing that Christ died for them in particular; and their first love, in loving God, because they supposed they were the objects of his love; and their assurance of their good estate from some immediate testimony, or suggestion, either with or without texts of scripture, that their sins are forgiven, that God loves them, &c.; and the joys of such as rejoiced more in their own supposed distinction from others, in honour, and privileges, and high experiences, than in God's excellency and Christ's beauty; and the spiritual pride of such Jaymen, that are for setting up themselves as public teachers, and cry down human learning, and a learned ministry. He greatly disliked a disposition in persons to much noise and shew of religion, and affecting to be abundant in publishing and proclaiming their own experience; though he did not condemn, but approved of Christians speaking of their experiences, on some occasions, and to some persons, with modesty, discretion, and reserye. He abominated the spirit and practice of the generality of the Separatists in this land. I heard lim say, once and again, that he had been much with this kind of people, and was acquainted with many of them, in various parts; and that by this acquaintance, he knew that what was chiefly and most generally in repute amongst them, as the power of godliness, was entirely a different thing from that vital piety recommended in the scripture, and had nothing in it of that nature. He was never more full in condemning these things than in his last illness, and after he ceased to have any expectation of life: And particularly when he had the greatest and nearest views of approaching eternity; and several times, when he thought himself actually dying, and expected in a few minutes to be in the eternal world, as he himself told me.*
* Since this sermon was preached, I find what follows in his Diary for the last summer.
" Thursday, June 18. I was this day taken exceeding ill, and brought to the gates of death. - In this extreme weak state I continued for several weeks ; and was frequently reduced so low as to be utterly speechless, and not able 60 much as to whisper a word. And even after I had so far revived, as to walk about the house, and to step out of doors, I was exercised every day with a faint turn, which continued usually four or five hours. At which times, though I was not so uiterly speechless, but that I could say yes or no; yet I could not converse at all, nor speak one senteuce without making stops for breath. And divers times, in this season, my friends gathered round my bed, 10 see me breathe my last : which they looked for every moment, as I myself also did.
As his inward experiences appear to have been of the right kind, and were very remarkable as to their degree, so was his outward behaviour and practice agreeable. He in his whole course acted as one who had indeed sold all for Christ, and had entirely devoted himself to God, and made bis glory his highest end, and was fully determined to spend his whole time and strength in his service. He was lively in religion, in the right way; lively, not only, nor chiefly, with his tongue, in professing and talking ; but lively in the work and business of religion. He was not one of those who are for contriving ways to shun the cross, and get to heaven with ease and sloth; but was such an instance of one living a life of labour and self-denial, and spending his strength and sub
“ How I was the first day or two of my illness, with regard to the exercise of reason, I scarcely know: but I believe I was something shattered, with the violence of the fever, at times. But the third day of my illoess, and constaotly afterwards, for four or five weeks together, I enjoyed as much serenity of mind, and clearness of thought, as perhaps I ever did in my life. And I think my mind never penetrated with so much ease and freedom into divine things as at this time, and I never felt so capable of demonstrating the truth of many important doctrines of the gospel as now.
“ And as I saw clearly the truth of those great doctrines, which are justly styled the doctrines of grace; so I saw with no less clearness, ihat the essence of true religion consisted in the soul's conformity to God, and acting above all selfish views, for his glory, longing to be for him, to live to him, and please and honour him in all things; and that, from a clear view of his infinite excellency and worthiness in himself, to be beloved, adored, worshipped, and served, by all intelligent creatures. Thus I saw, that when a soul loves God with a supreme love, he therein acts like the blessed God himself, who most jostly loves himself in that manner; so when God's interest and his are become one, and he longs that God should be glorified, and rejoices to think that he is unchangeably possessed of the highest glory and blessedness, berein also he acts in conformity to God. In like manner, when the soul is fully resigned to, and rests satisfied and contented with the divine will, here he is also conformed to God.
“ I saw further, that as this divine temper, whereby the soul exalts God, and treads itself in the dust, is wrought in the soul by God's discovering his own glorious perfections, in the face of Jesus Christ, to it, by the special influences of his Holy Spirit; so he could not but have regard to it, as his own work: And as it is his image in the soul, he could not but take delight in it. Then I saw again that if God should slight and reject his owo moral image, he must needs deny himself; which he cannot do. And thus I saw the stability and infallibility of this religion ; and that those who were truly possessed of it, bad the most complete and satisfying evidence of their being interested in all the benefits of Christ's redemption, having their hearts conformed to him ; and that these, and these only, were qualified for the employments and entertain. ments of God's kingdom of glory: as none but these would have any relish of the business of heaven, which is to ascribe glory to God, and not to themselves ; and that God (though I would speak it with great reverence of his name and perfections) could pot, without denying himself, finally cast such away.