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There are two ways of representing and recommending true religion and virtue to the world; the one, by doctrine and precept; the other, by in, stance and example ; both are abundantly used in the holy scriptures." Not only are the grounds, nature, design, and importance of religion clearly exhibited in the doctrines of scripture-its' exercise and praciice plainly deligeated, and abundantly enforced, in its commands and counsels-but there we have many excellent examples of religion, in its power and practice, set before us, in the histories both of the Old and New Testament.
Jesus CHRIST, the great Prophet of God, when he came to be “the light of the world."-to teach and eoforce true religion, in a greater degree than ever had been before-made use of both these methods. In his doctrine, he not only declared the mind and will of God—the nature and properties of that virtue which becomes creatures of our make and in oor circumstances--more clearly and fully than ever it had been before ; and more powerfully enforced it by what he declared of the obligations and inducements to holiness; but he also in his own practice gave a most perfect example of the virtue he taught. He exhibited to the world such an illustrious pattern of humility, divine love, discreet zea), self-denial, obedience, patience, resignation, fortitude, meekness, forgiveness, compassion, benevolence, and universal holiness, as neither men nor angels ever saw before.
God also in his providence bas been wont to make use of both these metbods to hold forth light to mankind, and inducements to their duty, in all ages. He has from time to time raised up eminent teachers, to exhibit and bear testimony to the truth by their doctrine, and to oppose the errors, darkness, and wickedoess of the world; and he has also raised up some eminent persons who bave set bright examples of that religion which is taught and prescribed in the word of God ; 'whose examples have, in the course of divine providence, been set forth to public view. These have a great tendency both to engage the attention of men to the doctrinces and rúlės taught, and also to confirm and enforce them; especially when these bright examples have been exhibited in the same persons who have been eminent teachers. Hereby the world has had opportunity to see a confirmation of the truth, efficacy, and amiableness of the religion taught, in the practice of the same persons who have most clearly and forcibly taught it; and above all, when these bright exain ples have been sel by eminent teachers, in a variety of unusual circumstances of remarkable trid; and when God has withal' remarkably distinguished them with wonderful success of their jastructions and labours.
Such an instance we have in the excellent person, whose life is pubo lished in the following pages. His example is attended with a great variety of circumstances tending to engage the attention of religious people, especially in these parts of the world. He was one of distinguished natural abilities; as all are sensible, who had acquaintance with him. As a minister of the gospel, he was called to unusual services in that work; and bis ministry was attended with very remarkable and unusual events. His course of religion began before the late times of extraordinary religious commotion ; yet he was not an idle spectator, but had a near concern in many things that passed at that time. He had a very extensive acquaintance with those who have been the subjects of the late religious operations, in places far distant, in people of different nations, education, manners, and customs. He had a peculiar opportunity of acquaintance with the false appearances and couuterfeits of religion ; was the instrument of a most remarkable awakening, a wonderful and abiding alteration and moral transformation of subjects wlio peculiarly render the change rare and astonishing.
In the following account, the reader will have an opportunity to see, not only what were the external circumstances and remarkable incidents of the life of this person, and how he spent bis tiine from day to day, as to his external behaviour; but also what passed in his own heart. Here he will see the wonderful change he experienced in his mind and disposition, the manner in which that change was brought to pass, how it continued, what were its consequences in bis inward frames, thoughts, affections, and secret exercises, through many vicissitudes and trials, for more than eight years.
He will also see, how all ended at Jast, in his sentimenis, frame, and behaviour, during a long season of the gradual and sensible approach of death, under a lingering illness; and what were the effects of his religion in dying circumstances, or in the last stages of bis illness. The account being written, the reader may have opportunity at his leisure to compare the various parts of the story, and deliberately to view and weigh the whole, and consider how far what is related is agreeable to the dictates of right reason and the holy word of God.
I am far from supposing, that Mr. BRAINERD's inward exercises and experiences, or bis external conduct, were free from all imperfections The example of Jesus Christ is the only example that ever existed in human nature as altogether perfect; which therefore is a rule, to try all other examples by ; and the dispositions, frames, and practices of others must be commended and followed no further, than they were followers of Christ.
There is one thing in Mr. BRAINERD, easily discernible by the following account of bis life, which may be called an imperfection in him, which-though not properly an imperfection of a moral nature, yet-may possibly be made an objection against the extraordinary appearances of religion and devotion in him, by such as seek for objections against every thing that can be procluced in favour of true vital religion; and that is, that he was, by his constitution and natural temper, so prone to melancholy and dejection of spirit. There are some who think that all serious strict religion is a melancholy thing, and that what is called Christian experience, is little else besides melancholy rapours disturbing the brain, and exciting enthusiastic imaginations But that Mr. BRAINERD's temper or constitua tion ioclined him to despondency, is no just ground to suspect his extraordinary devotion to be only the fruit of a varm imagination. I doubt not but that all who bave well observed mankind, will readily grant, that not