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in sin, without any inward knowledge of religion, they had not this conviction of their depravity; and that since they have entertained a hope, they have not at all times had this striking conviction of indwelling sin
pollution!" Friday, Jan. 6th.-" Feeling and considering my extreme weakness, and want of grace, the pollution of my soul and danger of temptations on every side, I set apart this day for fasting and prayer, neither eating nor drinking from evening to evening, beseeching God to have mercy on me." Thursday, Dec. 6th." Moreover, considering my extreme barrenness, spiritual deadness, and dejection, of late; as also the power of some particular corruptions; I set apart this day for secret prayer and fasting, to implore the blessing of God on myself, on my poor people, on my friends, and on the church of God."
Wednesday, Jan. 1st. 1746." But alas, alas! tho' I have done the labors, and endured the trials, with what spirit have I done the one, and borne the other? How cold has been the frame of my heart oftentimes! And how little have I sensibly eyed the glory of God, in all my doings and sufferings !"Tuesday, April 15th. "My soul longed for more spirituality; and it was my burden that I could do no more for God. O, my barrenness is my daily affliction and heavy load. O, how precious is time; and how it pains me to see it slide away, while I do so little to any good purpose! O that God would make me more fruitful and spiritual."
Lord's day, April 5th, 1747.-" It grieved me to find myself so inconceivably barren. My sou? thirsted for grace: But alas, how far was I from obtaining what I saw to be so exceeding excellent! I was ready to despair of ever being a holy creature; and yet my soul was desirous of following hard after God; but never did I see myself so far from having apprehended, or being already perfect, as at this time. The Lord's supper being this day administered, I attended the ordinance: And tho' I saw in myself a dreadful emptiness, and want of grace, and saw myself as it were at an infinite distance from that purity, which is becoming the gospel; yet in the season of communion, especially in the time of the distribution of the bread, I enjoyed some warmth of affection, and felt a tender love to the brethren, and, I think, to the glorious Redeemer, the first-born among them." Thursday, April 16th.-"Was in bitter anguish of soul, in the morning, such as I have scarce ever felt, with a sense of sin and guilt." Lord's day, May 17th,-"At this time God gave me some affecting sense of my own vileness, and the exceeding sinfulness of my heart; that there seemed to be nothing but sin and corruption in me. Innumerable evils compassed me about; my want of spirituality and holy living, my neglect of God, and living to myself; all the abominations
and they will say, that when they have had the least conviction of this, it has been when all their religious feelings were the most blunted.
This difference most obviously exists between us,
of my heart and life seemed to open to my view? and I had nothing to say, but God be merciful to me a sinner."
This last extract from Mr. Brainerd's Diary brings us down to a date less than five months previous to his death. During this time, through extreme bodily weakness, he wrote but little in his Diary. From this part I shall make one more extract, which was written probably nearly as late as July 19th. It seems to be his own review of his past experiences: "And although I could discover much corruption attending my best duties, many selfish views and carnal ends, much spiritual pride and self exaltation, and innumerable other evils which compassed me about; I say, although I now discerned the sins of my holy things, as well as other actions, yet God was pleased, as I was reviewing, quickly to put this question out of doubt, by showing me, that I had, from time to time, acted above the utmost influence of mere self love; that I had longed to please and glorify him as my highest happiness," &c. These extracts have exhibited but one part of the experiences of Mr. Brainerd. The whole of his Life is strongly recom. mended to the reader's perusal.
Let us now just look at the Life of President Edwards. It appears that while he was pastor of the church at Northampton, he wrote a summary of his religious experiences from his youth up. From this summary I shall make an extract, which will serve to give us his views of indwelling sin, especially in his own heart. He thus writes: "I have often, since I have lived in this town, had very affecting views of my own sinfulness and vileness, very frequently so as to hold me in a kind of loud weeping, sometimes for a considerable time together, so that I have often been forced to shut myself up. I have had a vastly greater sense of my own wickedness, and the badness of my heart since my conversion than ever I had before. It has often appeared to me, that if God should mark iniquity against me, I should appear the very worst of all mankind; of all that have been since the beginning of the world to this time, and that I should have by far the lowest place in hell. When others, that have come to talk with me about their soul-c oncerns, have expressed the sense they have had of their own wickedness, by saying that it seemed to them that they were as bad as the devil himself, I thought their expressions seeme d exceeding faint and feeble to represent my wickedness. I thought I should wonder that they should content themselves with such expressions as these, if I bad any reason to imagine that their sin bore any proportion to mine. It
and those who are our antagonists in this controversy: Our best christians are the most convinced of their sinful imperfection; but theirs feel the most above it.They even think, that no such imperfection cleaves to
seemed to me, I should wonder at myself, if I should express my wickedness in such feeble terms as they did.
"My wickedness, as I am in myself, has long appeared to me perfectly ineffable, and infinitely swallowing up all thought and imagination, like an infinite deluge, or infinite mountains over my head. I know not how to express better what my sins appear to me to be, than by heaping infinite upon infinite, and multiplying infinite by infinite. go about very often, for these many years, with these expressions in my mind and in my mouth, "Infinite upon infinite-Infinite upon infinite !" When I look into my heart and take a view of my wickedness, it looks like an abyss infinitely deeper than hell. And it ap pears to me, that, were it not for free grace, exalted and raised up to the infinite height of all the fulness and glory of the great Jehovah, and the arm of his power, and grace stretched forth in all the majesty of his power, and in all the glory of his sovereignty, I should appear sunk down in my sins infinitely below hell itself, far beyond the sight of every thing, but the piercing eye of God's grace, that can pierce even down to such a depth, and to the bottom of such an abyss.
"And yet I am not the least inclined to think, that I have a greater conviction of sin than ordinary. It seems to me, my conviction of sin is exceeding small and faint. It appears to me enough to amaze me, that I have no more sense of my sin. I know certainly, that I have very little sense of my sinfulness. That my sins appear to me so great, does not seem to me to be, because I have so much more conviction of sin than other christians, but because I am so much worse, and have so much more wickedness to be convinced of. When I have had these turns of weeping and crying for my sins, I thought I knew in the time of it, that my repentance was nothing to my sin.It is affecting to me to think now ignorant I was, when I was a young christian, of the bottomless, infinite depths of wickedness, pride, hypocrisy, and deceit, left in my heart.
"I have vastly a greater sense of my universal, exceeding dependence on God's grace and strength, and mere good pleasure of late, than I used formerly to have, and have experienced more of an abhorrence of my own righteousness.-And yet 1 am greatly afflicted with a proud and self-righteous spirit, much more sensibly than I used to be formerly. I see that serpent rising and putting forth its head continually, every where, all around me."
In connexion with this extract from the Life of Mr. Ed. wards, I would introduce a short one from that sketch of the Life of his daughter Mrs. Burr, which is added to the Life of
them. Now I think it cannot be, that the same religion, the self same work of the Spirit, should produce such directly contrary effects in different hearts. And I would now ask; which of two men, who appear equal
her father. In a letter to her father, in which she speaks of very peculiar support under trials, and sweet enjoyment of God, she has this sentence: "But O, Sir, what cause of deep humiliation and abasement of soul have I, on account of remain. ing corruption; which I see working continually, especially pride! O, how many shapes does pride cloke itself in,'
Mrs. Sarah Osborn, who died at Newport, R. I. in 1796, and whose Memoirs were published by her pastor, Dr. S. Hopkins, is considered among us as a christian of great eminence. It would appear by her experimental feelings and devotions which are breathed out in those of her private writings which are published; and also from the testimony of her minister, and of many living witnesses ;-it would appear, that she was a woman who made a business of religion; who lived with God day by day, and enjoyed something of heaven upon earth. I might, by copious extracts from her Diary make it appear, that with all her uncommon piety, she still considered herself as sinfully imperfect. But I shall make only two or three extracts from her Diary; and as these shall be from the last part of it, they will serve to convince the reader that Mrs. Osborn did not ever think herself perfect, in the sinless sense of the word. Page 304, she says, "May I ever, with the publican, see my own vileness, smite upon my breast and cry, God be merciful to me a sinner! Surely it becomes me, so sinful a creature as I am, to approach a holy God (although with faith and without terror) yet with contrition and penitent shame and confusion of face." Again, page 316: "O that God will convince all his dear children, what is right, and what is wrong; and rectify all that is contrary to thy will in them. O root out the monster sin Lord, root it out, for Christ's sake, of my heart, as well as theirs. O could any one see the secret ini. quity, the secret covetousness, after all my watchings and striv ings against it, which thou God knowest, how would they be stumbled, and puzzled to reconcile this with all my renunciations of the world, and all that is dear in life.- -Thou knowest my secret groanings under the oppression of the enemy, which none but thou canst fully know."
Take, as another specimen of her groanings under the body of death, what is found, page 318.*
But, my hasty soul, art
I have, in these references to the page, had before me the second edition of Mrs. O's. Memoirs, published at Catskill, by Nathan Elliot, Bookseller; where this book can be obtained by those who wish to become more intimately acquainted with the interesting Life of this mother in Israel.
ly exact in their external deportment, is more likely to be right; the man who with all his exactness, and with all his inward comforts in religion, discovers innumerable evils in his heart, and also in his conduct; or the man who thinks he is so perfect, that there is nothing amiss in his life, no, nor even in his heart?
We repeat it, This difference exists between us ;— and now we ask, How it shall be accounted for? Is it
thou ready? Thou pollated, thou imperfect one, Dost thom know what a holy, sin-hating God he is, into whose presence thou wouldest hasten? Whence this confidence of seeing his face with joy Art thou ready- Alas! all my works are imperfect, and unfinished; and will remain so if I should live to the age of Methuselah: Yea, and I shall add sin to sin, against my gracious God, till death does stop me. Not till then will my sanctification be complete."
The Life of Susanna Anthony, Mrs. Osborn's most intimate christian friend, is not now in my possession. But her experiences on the subject of imperfection, can be easily learned from what we find in the Memoirs of Mrs. Osborn. Mrs. Q. thus writes in her Diary for Sept. 12, 1746. "Last evening I went to visit my dear Susa, who is sick, and rejoices in hope of being sick unto death. She tells me, that every approach of death is welcome.- -O, Ilong," said she, "for one christian friend, to unite with me in pleading with God, to take me to himself, that I may be freed from the body of sin and death." And was not this experience, I would ask, conformable to that of the apostle? Did he not groan under the body of death? Did he not desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better, than to remain in this sinning world? Were not these experiences of Brainerd, and Edwards; of Mrs. Burr, Mrs. Osborn, and Miss Anthony, in harmony with the experiences of Job; who when the Lord drew near to him, cried out, "Behold I am vile-1 abhor myself?" and with the experiences of the evangelical prophet; who, when he beheld the glory of the Lord, said, Woe is me, I am undone, for I am a man of unclean lips? And do not the experiences which have been in troduced, accord with those of the sweet Psalmist of Israel, who at one time says, Iniquities prevail against me, (Psal. lxv. 3;) and at another time, They are more than the hairs of my head, therefore my heart faileth me," (Psal. xl. 12;) and again, For mine iniquities are gone over my head: as an heavy burden, they are too heavy for me. My wounds stink and are corrupt tecause of all my foolishness, (Psal. xxxviii 4, 5;) and again where he prays, Pardon mine iniquity, for it is great? Psal. xxv. 11. And did not Daniel, immaculate as he appeared, confess his own sin, as well as the sin of his people, before the Cod ell Israel? Dan. ix. 20.