Missionary to the American Indians. David Brainerd was born April 20, 1718, at Hatham, Connecticut. His early years were spent in an atmosphere of piety though his father died when David was nine and his mother died five years later. As a young man he was inclined to be melancholy, with the welfare of his soul ever before him. His entire youth was divided between farming, reading the Bible, and praying.
Early in life, he felt the call to the ministry and looked forward almost impatiently to the day when he could preach the Gospel. His formal education consisted of three years at Yale, where he was an excellent student until ill health forced him to return home. He completed his studies privately until he was fitted and licensed to preach by the Association of Ministers in Fairfield County, Connecticut. He turned down the offers of two pastorates in order to preach the Gospel to the American Indians.
Jonathan Edwards wrote of him, "And, having put his hand to the plow, he looked not back, and gave himself, heart, soul, and mind, and strength, to his chosen mission with unfaltering purpose, with apostolic zeal, with a heroic faith that feared no danger and surmounted every obstacle, and with an earnestness of mind that wrought wonders on savage lives and whole communities."
Brainerd did his greatest work by prayer. He was in the depths of the forests alone, unable to speak the language of the Indians. But he spent whole days in prayer, praying simply that the power of the Holy Ghost might come upon him so greatly that the Indians would not be able to refuse the Gospel message.
Once he preached through a drunken interpreter, a man so intoxicated that he could hardly stand up. Yet scores were converted through that sermon.
Plagued by ill health and the hardships of the primitive conditions, he died at the early age of 29, at the home of Jonathan Edwards, to whose daughter he was engaged.
After his death, William Carey read his diary and went to India. Robert McCheyne read it and went to the Jews. Henry Martyn read it and went to India. Though it was not written for publication, his diary influenced hundreds to yearn for the deeper life of prayer and communion with God, and also moved scores of men to surrender for missionary work.
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David Brainerd Missionary
David Brainerd, missionary, was born at Haddam, Connecticut, April 20, 1718. His father, Hezekiah, was one of His Majesty's counsel for the colony, and his maternal grandfather was the son of Rev. Peter Hobart, first minister of the gospel at Hingham, England, who came to New England during the persecution of the Puritans, and settled at Hingham, M ...read
David Brainerd's Life
"In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink." John 7:37
It is a thickly-wooded solitude beside a graceful inlet of the Susquehanna. The dense and matted vegetation stands as it has stood from the foundation of the world. The silence of the wilderness is broken o ...read
Missionary to American Indians
Missionary to the American Indians; born at Haddam, Connecticut, [United States], April 20, 1718; died at the home of Jonathan Edwards (to whose daughter [Jerusha] he was engaged), Northampton, Massachusetts, October 9, 1747.
He entered Yale College in 1739 and was expelled in his junior year; it was the time of the Great Awakening and Brainerd ...read
Conformity to God
"...conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29)
How I was, the first day or two of my illness, with regard to the exercise of reason, I scarcely know; I believe I was somewhat shattered with the violence of the fever, at times. But the third day of my illness, and constantly afterwards for fou ...read
It's All Worth It
"... and we beheld his glory ... full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).
Monday March 7. This morning when I arose, I found my heart go forth after God in longing desires of conformity to Him, and in secret prayer found myself sweetly quickened and drawn out in praises to God for all He had done to and for me, and for all my inward trials and dist ...read
Journal Excerpts Part 1
CROSSWEEKSUNG, in New Jersey, June, 1745.
June 19. Having spent most of my time for more than a year past amongst the Indians in the Forks of Delaware in Pennsylvania; and having in that time made two journeys to Susquehannah river, far back in that province, in order to treat with the Indians there, respecting Christianity; and not having had a ...read
Journal Excerpts Part 2
FORKS OF DELAWARE, in Pennsylvania, July, 1745.
Lord's day, July 14. Discoursed to the Indians twice, several of whom appeared concerned, and were, I have reason to think, in some measure convinced by the divine Spirit of their sin and misery; so that they wept much the whole time of divine service. - Afterwards discoursed to a number of white p ...read
Journal Excerpts Part 3
July 23. Preached to the Indians, but had few hearers: those who are constantly at home seem of late to be under some serious impressions of a religious nature.
July 26. Preached to my people, and afterwards baptized my interpreter's children.
Lord's day, July 28. Preached again, and perceived my people, at least some of them, more thoughtful ...read
Journal Excerpts Part 4
Aug. 9. Spent almost the whole day with the Indians, the former part of it in discoursing to many of them privately, and especially to some who had lately received comfort, and endeavouring to inquire into the grounds of it, as well as to give them some proper instructions, cautions, and directions.
In the afternoon discoursed to them publicly. ...read
Journal Excerpts Part 5
Aug. 14. Spent the day with the Indians. There was one of them who had some time since put away his wife, (as is common among them,) and taken another woman, and being now brought under some serious impressions, was much concerned about that affair in particular, and seemed fully convinced of the wickedness of that practice, and earnestly desirous ...read
Journal Excerpts Part 6
Lord's day, Aug. 25. Preached in the forenoon from Luke xv. 3-7. There being a multitude of white people present, I made an address to them, at the close of my discourse to the Indians: but could not so much as keep them orderly; for scores of them kept walking and gazing about, and behaved more indecently than any Indians I ever addressed; and a v ...read
Journal Excerpts Part 7
FORKS OF DELAWARE, in Pennsylvania, Sept. 1745.
Lord's day, Sept. 1. Preached to the Indians here from Luke xiv. 16-23. The word appeared to be attended with some power, and caused some tears in the assembly. - Afterwards preached to a number of white people present, and observed many of them in tears, and some who had formerly been as careless ...read
Journal Excerpts Part 8
Sept. 16. Spent the forenoon with the Indians, endeavouring to instruct them from house to house, and to engage them, as far as I could, to be friendly to Christianity. Towards night went to one part of the town where they were sober, and got together near fifty persons of them, and discoursed to them, having first obtained the king's cheerful cons ...read
Journal Excerpts Part 9
Sept. 22. Made some further attempts to instruct and christianize the Indians on this island, but all to no purpose. They live so near the white people, that they are always in the way of strong liquor, as well as the ill examples of nominal Christians; which renders it so unspeakably difficult to treat with them about Christianity.
FORKS OF DEL ...read
Journal Excerpts Part 10
Oct. 28. Discoursed from Matt. xxii, 1-13. I was enabled to open the Scripture, and adapt my discourse and expressions to the capacities of my people, I know not how, in a plain, easy, and familiar manner, beyond all that I could, have done by the utmost study: and this, without any special difficulty; yea, with as much freedom as ...read
Journal Excerpts Part 11
GENERAL REMARKS ON PART FIRST.
I MIGHT now justly make many remarks on a work of grace so very remarkable as this has been in divers respects; but shall confine myself to a few general hints only.
1st, It is remarkable that God began this work among the Indians at a time when I had the least hope, and, to my apprehension, the least rational p ...read
"... I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously..." (Exod. 15:1).
Thursday, November 3. Spent this day in secret fasting and prayer, from morning till night. Early in the morning, I had some small degree of assistance in prayer. Afterwards, read the story of Elijah the prophet, I Kings 17,18, and 19, and also 11 Kings 2 and 4. M ...read
"They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God" (Ps. 84:7).
Lord's Day, April 25. This morning I spent about two hours in secret duties and was enabled more than ordinarily to agonize for immortal souls. Though it was early in the morning and the sun scarcely shined at all, yet my body was quite wet with sweat ...read
"Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart" (Ps. 119:2).
Thursday, August 4. Was enabled to pray much, through the whole day; and through divine goodness found some intenseness of soul in the duty, as I used to do, and some ability to persevere in my supplications. I had some apprehensions of divine thing ...read
"Why art thou cast down, 0 my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance" (Ps. 42:5).
Monday, April 12. This morning the Lord was pleased to lift up the fight of His countenance upon me in secret prayer, and made the season very precious to my soul. Though I have been so ...read