Jonathan Edwards: The Life of David Brainerd. Part Three.

“He greatly disliked a disposition in persons to much noise and show in religion, and affecting to be abundant in publishing and proclaiming their own experience; though he did not condemn but approved of Christians speaking of their experiences, on some occasions, and to some persons, with modesty, discretion, and reserve.” – Jonathan Edwards’ eulogy for David Brainerd

Jonathan Edwards and David Brainerd became close companions in Christ prior to Brainerd’s death in 1747. However, they became even more closely linked following Brainerd’s death. This is due because after examining Brainerd’s personal papers, Edwards spent close to two years composing a biography of this young missionary.

In 1749, and over 300 pages, Edwards’ An Account of the Life of the Late Reverend Mr. David Brainerd was published. Edwards’ account of David Brainerd was the first biography gaining international acknowledgement and the first about a missionary to be published.

, “At the very time that Edwards was thinking, writing, and praying about the coming era of world missions, a flesh and blood trail blazer of that future age had come to his door. He wanted Brainerd to be read and known not simply as an example of a true missionary but as an example of a real Christian, showing what the power of godliness and vital religion truly is,” explains Edwards’ biographer Iain Murray.

“The Christian life is God-centered living; it means giving reverence to all the commands of God and it is not rapture but habit. The Christian has an experience of God which is of an increasing nature. The motivation is conformity to God, not a longing for experiences as such, ” stated Edwards.

In the immediate aftermath of Brainerd’s death, Jerusha Edwards, Jonathan and Sarah’s daughter and caregiver for Brainerd while he lived in their home, also contracted tuberculosis and died in February, 1748. She was buried next to Brainerd. There are those who speculate that they were romantically involved and perhaps even engaged to be married. However, no evidence exists of such a romantic relationship. Jerusha was the best available nurse for the ill, young missionary. Their friendship was a friendship of Christians.

On that October day of Brainerd’s funeral, as Edwards surveyed the empty bedroom and the manuscripts entrusted to his care, he could indeed say about his friend whose unexpected stay had brought him so much encouragement, ‘I have learned, in a measure, that all good things, relating both to time and eternity, come from God’.”   

I have learned, in a measure, that all good things, relating both to time and eternity, come from God. May this be our perspective today as believers in Christ. Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

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