The log house occupied by the Presbyterian missioner to the Indians in 1744 was a short distance away on the side road. It was here the youthful zealot wrote part of his famed journal.
“Youthful zealot” seems to capture the feeling of many who believe Brainerd wasted his life with unbridled enthusiasm and a lack of pacing himself in ministry. Some, in his day, even questioned the profitableness of ministering among the Delaware Indians.
Though Brainerd’s flame of public ministry only flickered for 5 short years, yet, thanks to Jonathan Edwards’ record of his life, many generations of believers have since been impacted deeply by the story of God’s grace in Brainerd’s life. John Piper wrote of Brainerd: “I think the reason Brainerd's life has such powerful effects on people is that in spite of all his struggles he never gave up his faith or his ministry. He was consumed with a passion to finish his race and honor his Master and spread the kingdom and advance in personal holiness. It was this unswerving allegiance to the cause of Christ that makes the bleakness of his life glow with glory so that we can understand Henry Martyn when he wrote, as a student in Cambridge in 1802, ‘I long to be like him!’"
Scripture is very clear. We have been called to sacrifice, unjust suffering and self-denial (see Romans 12:1; 1 Peter 2:21; Luke 9:23-25). All of this is done not to earn God’s favor or achieve holiness, but because of what Christ did for us and this is now our calling (our profession according to 1 Peter 2:21). This is the thumbnail sketch of Brainerd’s life.
Here are a few quotes of David Brainerd which reveal his passion for the Lord Jesus Christ:
· "When I really enjoy God, I feel my desires of him the more insatiable, and my thirstings after holiness the more unquenchable; ... Oh, for holiness! Oh, for more of God in my soul! Oh, this pleasing pain! It makes my soul press after God ... Oh, that I might not loiter on my heavenly journey."
· "O I longed to fill the remaining moments all for God! Though my body was so feeble, and wearied with preaching and much private conversation, yet I wanted to sit up all night to do something for God. To God the giver of these refreshments, be glory forever and ever; Amen."
· "My soul was refreshed and comforted, and I could not but bless God, who had enabled me in some good measure to be faithful in the day past. Oh, how sweet it is to be spent and worn out for God!"
· “We should always look upon ourselves as God's servants, placed in God's world, to do his work; and accordingly labour faithfully for him; not with a design to grow rich and great, but to glorify God, and do all the good we possibly can.”
· "We are a long time in learning that all our strength and salvation is in God."
· "As long as I see any thing to be done for God, life is worth having; but O how vain and unworthy it is to live for any lower end!"
May we long to be more like David Brainerd … a “youthful zealot.”