Conformed to God

Thursday, June 18, 1747, in the days where “divers times … [his] friends gathered round [his] bed to see [him] breathe [his] last, which they looked for every moment as [he himself] also did,” David Brainerd wrote in his diary:

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, that the essence of 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 honor Him in all things. And this from a clear view of His infinite excellency and worthiness in Himself to be loved, adored, worshiped, 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 justly 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, herein 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 it is also conformed to God.

I saw further that as this divine temper, whereby the soul exalts God and treads self in the dust, is wrought in the soul by God’s discovering His own glorious perfections in the face of Jesus Christ to it, as His own work; and as it is His image in the soul, He cannot but take delight in it. Then I saw again that if God should slight and reject His own 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 are truly possessed of it have 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, these only, are qualified for the employments and entertainments of God’s kingdom of glory; as none but these have any relish for 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 perfection) cannot, without denying Himself, finally cast such away.

The next thing I had then to do was to inquire whether this was my religion. Here God was pleased to help me to the most easy remembrance and critical view of what had passed in course of a religious nature through several of the latter years of my life. 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; 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.

This review was through grace attended with a present feeling of the same divine temper of mind. I felt now pleased to think of the glory of God and longed for heaven as a state where I might glorify God perfectly, rather than a place of happiness for myself. This feeling of the love of God in my heart, which I trust the Spirit of God excited in me afresh, was sufficient to give me full satisfaction and make me long, as I had many times before done, to be with Christ…


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