Friday Night Mystics: David Brainerd
1718 – 1747
For his few, troubled years, David Brainerd’s life left an indellible mark on his generation. In the intervening years, his reputation and life’s work have been somewhat underrated, perhaps overshadowed by his friend and associate, Jonathan Edwards. Brainerd’s main contribution was in his pioneer missionary work to Native Americans, but he is most remembered today for his personal prayer journal. This firebrand burned so brightly and hotly for the Lord that he worked himself to an early grave, spending his last weeks in the home of Edwards. He finally succumbed to Tuberculosis and consumption on October 9, 1747.
David Brainerd’s diary was reproduced for posterity, to his relucant acceptance, only after much pleading on the part of Edwards. Below are two exerpts:
“I thought the Spirit of God had quite left me; but still was not distressed: yet disconsolate, as if there was nothing in heaven or earth could make me happy. Having been thus endeavouring to pray — though, as I thought, very stupid and senseless — for near half an hour, then, as I was walking in a dark thick grove, unspeakale glory seemed to open to the view and apprehension of my soul. I do not mean any external brightness, for I saw no such thing; … but it was a new inward apprehension or view that I had of God, such as I never had before, nor any thing which had the least resemblence of it. I stood still, wondered, and admired! … My soul rejoiced with joy unspeakable, to see such a God, such a glorious Divine Being; and I was inwardly pleased and satisfied that he should be God over all for ever and ever. My soul was so captivated and delighted with the excellency, loveliness, greatness, and other perfections of God, that I was even swallowed up in him; at least to that degree, that I had no thought (as I remember) at first about my own salvation, and scarce reflected there was such a creature as myself.”
“I knew not what to say to my God, but only lean on his bosom, as it were, and breathe out my desires after a perfect conformity to him in all things. Thirsting desires, and insatiable longings, possessed my soul after perfect holiness. God was so precious to my soul, that the world with all its enjoyments was infinitely vile. I had no more value for the favour of men, than for pebbles. The LORD was my ALL; and that he overruled all, greatly delighted me.”