David Brainerd: Missionary to the Native Americans

LIFE AND DIARY Edited by Jonathan Edwards

THURSDAY, November 4, 1742: “Saw much of my nothingness most of this day, but felt concerned that I had no more sense of my insufficiency and unworthiness. Oh, it is sweet lying in the dust! But it is distressing to feel in my soul that hell of corruption which still remains in me. Of late, God has been pleased to keep my soul hungry almost continually, so that I have been filled with a kind of pleasing pain. Oh, that I might feel this continual hunger, and not be retarded, but rather animated by every cluster from Canaan to reach forward in the narrow way, for the full enjoyment and possession of the heavenly inheritance! Oh, that I may never loiter in my heavenly journey!”

WEDNESDAY, May 18, 1743: “My circumstances are such that I have no comfort of any kind but what I have in God. I live in the most lonesome wilderness. I have no fellow Christian to whom I might unbosom myself or lay open my spiritual sorrows; with whom I might take sweet counsel in conversation about heavenly things and join in social prayer. I live poorly with regard to the comforts of life. Most of my diet consists of boiled corn, hasty pudding, etc. I lodge on a bed of straw, my labor is hard and extremely difficult and I have little appearance of success to comfort me.”

TUESDAY, August 23, 1743: “In evening prayer, God was pleased to draw near my soul, though very sinful and unworthy; was enabled to wrestle with God and to persevere in my requests for grace. I poured out my soul for all the world, friends and enemies. My soul was concerned, not so much for souls as such, but rather Christ’s kingdom that it might appear in the world, that God might be known to be God in the whole earth. I thought, if God should say, “Cease making any provision for this life, for you shall in a few days go out of time into eternity,” my soul would leap for joy. Oh, that I might both “desire to be dissolved, to be with Christ,” and likewise, “wait patiently all the days of my appointed time till my change come!” But, alas! I am very unfit for the business and blessedness of heaven. Oh, for more holiness!”

THURSDAY, August 25, 1743: “If we would be like God, we must see that we fill up our time for Him. I daily long to dwell in perfect light and love. In the meantime, my soul mourns that I make so little progress in grace and preparation for the world of blessedness. I see and know that I am a very barren tree in God’s vineyard and that He might justly say, “Cut it down.” Oh, that God would make me more lively and vigorous in grace, for His own glory!”

TUESDAY, May 1, 1744: “Rode several hours in the rain through the howling wilderness. I was so disordered in body, that little or nothing but blood came from me. (He suffered from tuberculosis) My heart was sometimes ready to sink with the thoughts of my work, and going alone in the wilderness. I mourned after the presence of God and seemed banished from His sight! Yet He pleased to support my sinking soul amidst all my sorrows so that I never entertained any thought of quitting my mission among the poor natives. I continued lifting up my heart to God that my whole soul might take up continually in concern for the advancement of Christ’s kingdom. All my desire was the conversion of the natives and all my hope was in God.”

MONDAY, September 13, 1744: “It is, “through great trials,” I see, “that we must enter the gates of paradise.” If my soul could but be holy that God might not be dishonored, methinks I could bear the sorrows.”

MONDAY, January 14, 1745: “Spent this day under a great degree of bodily weakness and disorder. I had very little freedom either in my studies or devotions; in the evening, I was much dejected and melancholy. It pains and distresses me that I live so much of my time for nothing. I long to do much in a little time, and if it might be the Lord’s will, to finish my work speedily in this tiresome world. I am sure I do not desire to live for anything in this world.”

SUNDAY, Lord’s Day, August 8, 1745: “Now a change began to be appear very visible. There was much concern when I preached but afterwards when I spoke to one or another, the power of God seemed to descend upon the assembly “like a rushing wind.” Almost all persons of all ages were bowed down. Old men and women who had not been more than drunken wretches for many years, and even little children appeared in distress for their souls. The most stubborn hearts were now obliged to bow. I never saw any day like this. I am persuaded the Lord did much to destroy the kingdom of darkness among the people today. God’s manner of working appeared entirely supernatural that I could scarce believe He used me as an instrument. I seemed to have nothing to do but to “stand still and see the salvation of God.” The Word of God seemed to fall with weight and influence! God was in the midst of us as a truth, bowing and melting stubborn hearts. How many tears and sobs were seen and heard among us!”

Conclusion: David struggled with faith like most of us in his mission work among the Native Americans, but he never gave up! God was faithful and he lived to see over 130 souls converted and a church started before his untimely death at the age of 29. He had been sick much of his adult life with tuberculosis. The book written from his journals has never gone out of print and has been a source of encouragement for missionaries around the world. May we be found so faithful! David Brainerd 1718-1747

One thought on “David Brainerd: Missionary to the Native Americans

  1. Thank you for posting this, Jerry. David Brainerd’s testimony is a remarkable one, and should humble every believer who reads it. I can only imagine the incredible reception he received upon entering heavenly glory!

    Liked by 1 person

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