Brainerd David

break out your badges for





20.4.1718 – 9.10.1747


1995 marked the 250th anniversary of the revival at Crossweeksung in New Jersey in 1745.  

It is remarkable that God began this work among the Indians at a time when I had the least hope, and to my understanding the least prospect of success.


Born in Connecticut of Christian heritage, his father died when he was nine and his mother when he was fourteen.

A man of prayer and dedication, he was self-denying, meek, tortured by feelings of failure, inadequacy and sinfulness, and (according to Edwards) ‘prone to melancholy and dejection of spirit’, a man ‘of penetrating genius, of clear thought… and a very exact judgment’.  He was expelled from Yale College in his third year at age twenty-three for refusing to make a public confession for something he had said in a private conversation about a tutor (“he has no more grace than this chair”).  He became missionary to the Indians at age twenty-four and died at the age of twenty-nine in the house of Jonathan Edwards after a prolonged illness.


… the power of God seemed to descend upon the assembly ‘like a rushing mighty wind,’ and with an astonishing energy bore down all before it.  I stood amazed at the influence that seized the audience, and could compare it to nothing more aptly than the irresistible force of a mighty torrent.  Almost all persons of all ages were bowed down with concern together… drunken wretches… some little children… appeared in distress for their souls… made sensible of their danger, the badness of their hearts, and their misery without Christ… They were almost universally praying and crying for mercy…


I have ever found it, when I have thought the battle was over and the conquest gained, and so let down my watch, the enemy has risen up and done me the greatest injury.


I live poorly with regard to the comforts of this life; most of my diet consists of boiled corn….I lodge on a bundle of straw; my labour is….extremely difficult; and I have little appearance of success to comfort me….but that which makes all my difficulties grievous to be borne is, that God hides His face from me.


Lord’s Day, Dec 16 (1744).  Was so overwhelmed with dejection that I knew not how to live.  I longed for death exceedingly; my soul was sunk into deep waters and the floods were ready to drown me… my soul was in a kind of horror… could not keep my thoughts fixed in prayer for the space of one minute… I would have cheerfully ventured into eternity.  While I was going to preach to the Indians, my soul was in anguish.


Friday, April 17 (1747)… God helped me to ‘draw near to the throne of grace,’ though most unworthy, and gave me a sense of His favour… could not but rejoice that ever God should discover His face to such a vile sinner.  Shame and confusion , at times, covered me; and then hope, and joy, and admiration of divine goodness gained the ascendant.


My soul longs to feel more of a  pilgrim and stranger here below, that nothing may divert me from pressing through the lonely desert, till I arrive at my Father’s house.


I never got away from Jesus and Him crucified.  When my people were gripped by this great evangelical doctrine of Christ and Him crucified, I had no need to give them instructions about morality.  I found that one followed as the sure and inevitable fruit of the other.


Sources: Hampton & Plueddeman World Shapers; Michael Green Illustrations for Biblical Preaching; Jonathan Edwards The Life and Diary of David Brainerd.