Beloved the day is finally here, I get to review one of the most impactful books I’ve read since becoming a believer. The Life and Diary of David Brainerd (published in 1749 by Jonathan Edwards) is one of those books that stays with you. After reading it myself I’m now reading it with Kayliegh, and have ordered copies as gifts for Christmas.
Brainerd (1718-1747) was a Puritan missionary to the Native Americans. He kept a daily journal of his spiritual progress. Many of his entries are heart wrenching, as he describes the struggles we have day to day in our walk with Christ. Brainerd often expresses his desire to be with the Lord. A beautiful prayer God answered, as he went home at the young age of 29.
His writing is very honest, and he is upfront with his struggles in prayer. I’m often tempted to be more enthusiastic in my description of my walk for the encouragement of others. It actually can just heap burdens on brothers and sisters, when we are dishonest about our own trials. It gives them the idea that perfect is possible, just not for them. Often times the most encouraging thing we can do is be truthful. I found Brainerd’s truthfulness very encouraging, as I read his words that reflected my own thoughts I wouldn’t dare voice. Some days my prayer is dull and lifeless, and it does feel like God has left me. Other days my prayer can be filled with sweetness.
I heard Puritans once described as the Redwood trees of the Christian forest. I think that’s a fair assessment, as they often stand tall in their love, obedience and devotion to God. Brainerd is most certainly one of those Redwood trees. We have visited the Redwood forest in our travels, as we walked through a trail of trees so tall you couldn’t see the tops, everything was silent and still. That was one place where Gods creation doesn’t whisper, it sings of His majesty. In the same way, Brainerd’s diary and all he accomplished in his life doesn’t whisper of Gods power to change mans cold heart of stone, it sings of a new creature in Christ, glory to God!
The Life and Diary of David Brainerd is a book I would recommend to every believer, young and old, particularly those who have a love for Puritan writings. I would also suggest this as a gift this Christmas for anyone you know who is considering going into the missions field, is already in the missions field, is an elder, or a pastor. This book is in the public domain, although there does not seem to be a free audio version just yet, you can download the free pdf. Or you can get a Kindle version for less than a dollar. And of course the paperback or hardback copies are available.
I pray this book will bless you, friends. There are so many books that have short daily encouragements or commentaries, however I think an entry or two of this book would be far more helpful. As always, beloved brethren, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.
Beloved, I did not finish the book I wanted to review today. It’s too good of a book not to do it justice so, instead, I’m going to get you all amped up with a preview. Next Thursday I’ll give you my opinion on this book, but for this week here is a little treat for you all! The preface for The Life and Diary of David Brainerd, written by Jonathan Edwards himself.
Ok, this is not really the same kind of testimony I usually write about on Wednesday. I just couldn’t let this go, it’s too unique. With the series on The Saddest Wedding ending yesterday, I felt like a beautiful love story would lighten the mood. This is the very thing Jonathan Edwards wrote about his future wife, after meeting her. Prepare yourselves for better writing then Shakespear ever dreamed of…
“They say there is a young lady in [New Haven] who is beloved of that Great Being, who made and rules the world, and that there are certain seasons in which this Great Being, in some way other or invisible, comes to her and fills her mind with exceeding sweet delight, and that she hardly cares for anything, except to meditate on him – that she expects after a while to be received up where he is, to be raised up out of the world and caught up into heaven; being assured that he loves her too well to let her remain at a distance from him always. There she is to dwell with him, and to be ravished with his love and delight forever. Therefore, if you present all the world before her, with the richest of its treasures, she disregards it and cares not for it, and is unmindful of any pain or affliction. She has a strange sweetness in her mind, and singular purity in her affections; is most just and conscientious in all her conduct; and you could not persuade her to do anything wrong or sinful, if you would give her all the world, lest she should offend this Great Being. She is of a wonderful sweetness, calmness and universal benevolence of mind; especially after this Great God has manifested himself to her mind. She will sometimes go about from place to place, singing sweetly; and seems to be always full of joy and pleasure; and no one knows for what. She loves to be alone, walking in the fields and groves, and seems to have some one invisible always conversing with her.”
This is a testimony to Gods great love, and kindness, in that He saw it was not good for man to be alone. So He created a helpmeet for man, I can think of only one example more beautiful of that union than the one we see here, between Jonathan and Sarah Edwards. That’s the love between Christ and His church, which is consistently compared to marriage throughout the Bible. How much did Christ love His church? He died for her. What is usually called Gods ‘common grace’ becomes decidedly uncommon when looked at in the light of salvation.
What is this great grace God has shown, this unimaginable love, that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us? Irresistible grace! Beloved, this God that we serve is deserving of all our hearts, soul, mind, and strength. So, be good Berean’s, and study to show yourselves approved.
A while back I wrote about Jonathan Edwards testimony, which you can read here, and at the time I was working my way through his treasured work Religious Affections. It took me a little longer to finish this book due to its length, and dutiful use of the Word. It was well worth the read! It was published in 1746, written by the American theologian who helped kick off the first Great Awakening.
One of the best parts about this book is that everything Edwards (October 5, 1703 – March 22, 1758) speaks of he gives multiple verses to back up. This makes reading the book a lot like having a long, edifying, Bible study with the great theologian. It still has so much relevance in the body of Christ today.
I recommend this book to anyone questioning their own affections for Christ, or those that win souls and wish to better judge whether others are in the faith. This book is in the public domain so it’s accessible in pdf form, audible form, Kindle form, or you can purchase your own copy. As always beloved, be good Bereans and study to show yourselves approved.
American theologian Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1758) gives his testimony. I love this, reading a testimony like this, from a brother whose gone home to his Lord, makes heaven somehow nearer, somehow sweeter. God has blessed me beyond measure on this Earth, but I can not deny that I feel a great desire for home. I’m also encouraged to see, in reading these testimonies, that we serve a God who is the same yesterday, today, and always, who is no respecter of man. I hope you’re blessed by this testimony beloved, and as always be good Bereans, study to show yourselves approved.
“The first instance, that I remember, of that sort of inward, sweet delight in God and divine things, that I have lived much in since, was on reading those words, I Timothy 1:17. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever, Amen. As I read the words, there came into my soul, and was as it were diffused through it, a sense of the glory of the Divine Being; a new sense, quite different from any thing I ever experienced before. Never any words of Scripture seemed to me as these words did. I thought with myself, how excellent a Being that was, and how happy I should be, if I might enjoy that God, and be rapt up to him in heaven, and be as it were swallowed up in him for ever! I kept saying, and as it were singing, over these words of scripture to myself; and went to pray to God that I might enjoy Him, and prayed in a manner quite different from what I used to do; with a new sort of affection. But it never came into my thought, that there was any thing spiritual, or of a saving nature in this.
From about that time, I began to have a new kind of apprehensions and ideas of Christ, and the work of redemption, and the glorious way of salvation by Him. An inward, sweet sense of these things, at times, came into my heart; and my soul was led away in pleasant views and contemplations of them. And my mind was greatly engaged to spend my time in readings and mediating on Christ, on the beauty and excellency of His person, and the lovely way of salvation by free grace in Him…
On January 12, 1723, I made a solemn dedication of myself to God, and I wrote it down; giving up myself, and all that I had to God; to be for the future, in no respect, my own; to act as one that had no right to himself, in any respect. And solemnly vowed, to take God for my whole portion and felicity; looking on nothing else, as any part of my happiness, nor acting as if it were; and His law for the constant rule of my obedience: engaging to fight, with all my might. against the world, the flesh, and the devil, to the end of my life. But I have reason to be infinitely humbled, when I consider, how much I have failed, of answering my obligation…
I have loved the doctrines of the Gospel; they have been to my soul like green pastures. The Gospel has seemed to me the richest treasure; the treasure that I have most desired, and longed that is might dwell richly in me. The way of salvation by Christ, has appeared, in general way, glorious and excellent, most pleasant and most beautiful. It has often seemed to me, that it would, in a great measure, spoil heaven, to receive it in any other way. That text has often been affecting and delightful to me, Isaiah 32:2, And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest,…
It has often appeared to me delightful, to be united to Christ; to have Him for my head, and to be a member of His body; also to have Christ for my teacher and prophet. I very often think with sweetness, and longings, and pantings of soul, of being a little child, taking hold of Christ, to be led by Him through the wilderness of this world. That text, Matthew 18:3, has often been sweet to me, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, … I love to think of coming to Christ, to receive salvation of Him, poor in spirit, and quite empty of self, humbly exalting Him alone; cut off entirely from my own root, in order to grow into, and out of Christ: to have God in Christ to be all in all; and to live by faith on the Son of God, a life of humble, unfeigned confidence in Him…
Once, as I rode out into the woods for my health, in 1737, having alighted from my horse in a retired place, as my manner commonly has been, to walk for divine contemplation and prayer, I had a view, that for me was extraordinary, of the glory of the Son of God, as mediator between God and man, and His wonderful, great, full, pure and sweet grace and love, and meek and gentle condescension. This grace that appeared so calm and sweet, appeared also great above the heavens. The person of Christ appeared ineffably excellent, with an excellency great enough to swallow up all thought and conception ó which continued, as near as I can judge, about an hour; which kept me the greater part of the time, in a flood of tears, and weeping aloud. I felt an ardency of soul to be, what I know not otherwise how to express, emptied and annihilated; to lie in the dust, and to be full of Christ alone; to love him with a holy and pure love; to trust in Him; to live upon Him; to serve and follow Him; and to be perfectly sanctified and made pure, with a divine and heavenly purity. I have, several other times, had views very much of the same nature, and which have had the same effects.
I have, many times, had a sense of the glory of the Third Person in the Trinity, in His office of Sanctifier; in His Holy operations, communicating divine light and life to the soul. God in the communications of His Holy Spirit, has appeared as an infinite fountain of divine glory and sweetness; being full and sufficient to fill and satisfy the soul; pouring forth itself in sweet communications, like the sun in its glory, sweetly and pleasantly diffusing light and life. And I have sometimes had an affecting sense of the excellency of the Word of God as a Word of life; as the Light of life; a sweet, excellent, life-giving Word; accompanied with a thirsting after that Word, that it might dwell richly in my heart…
Though it seems to me, that in some respects, I was a far better Christian, for two or three years after my first conversion, than I am now; and lived in a more constant delight and pleasure; yet of late years, I have had a more full and constant sense of the absolute sovereignty of God, and a delight in that sovereignty; and have had more of a sense of the glory of Christ, as a Mediator revealed in the Gospel. On one Saturday night, in particular, I had such a discovery of the excellency of the Gospel above all other doctrines, that I could not but to say to myself, ëThis is my chosen light, my chosen doctrine,í and of Christ, ëThis is my chosen Prophet.í It appeared sweet, beyond all expression, to follow Christ, and to be taught, and enlightened, and instructed by Him; to learn of Him, and live to Him. ” Reference