here is an intresting review of this book:
Beware! Danger ahead! This man's life and death will change you.
Are you comfortable with your "lot" Christian reader? Content with your religious practice? Satisfied with your progress in things spiritual? Should you be led to feast on the diary of David Brainerd with mind open (to God) and heart sensitive, you won't be. Do you sense that God must be quite pleased with you and all of the efforts you expend for His kingdom? Should you persevere and finish the book, such a sense will be dismantled by God's Spirit!
Buried within the private, personal journals of a young missionary (chronologically speaking - he went home to heaven at age 29) is a depth of spiritual wisdom, fervor for God's kingdom and glory, and love for the Savior, quite unparalleled (if not unrecognizable) in modern Christianity. The mystics would acknowledge in Brainerd what they themselves longed for, a wholesale abandonment to God - His purposes and His will.
Brainerd's growth in grace began with his conversion in 1739. His own words best describe: "My soul rejoiced with joy unspeakable to see such a God, such a glorious divine Being...My soul was so captivated and delighted with the excellency, loveliness, greatness and other perfections of God, that I was even swallowed up in Him...I wondered that all the world did not see and comply with this way of salvation, entirely by the righteousness of Christ."
One who has been so entirely apprehended by the Almighty is enabled to see his own soul very clearly; and this Brainerd did. The depth of his own depravity was before his eyes each day of his new life and most certainly played a part in his frequent melancholy. But it was balanced and fueled by the awareness of Christ's perfection and the beauty of His perfect remedy for sin.
The missionary was fixated on the promotion of God's kingdom; among the heathen Indians in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, ignorant settlers, and even the clergy, whom he endeavored to instruct, exhort and encourage, even on his deathbed. The hardships and privations he endured in the preaching of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ are quite beyond our ability to imagine. Total self-denial marked him clearly. He faced death at many turns. He was willingly and joyfully spent for his Savior. But, oh what fruit God brought forth! Read and see.
Listen, as he describes for us the essence of true Christianity and its counterfeit, from his journal entry on the Lord's day, May 24, 1746: "Could not but think, as I have often remarked to others, that much more of true religion consists in deep humility, brokenness of heart, and an abasing sense of barrenness and want of grace and holiness, than most who are called Christians imagine; especially those who have been esteemed the converts of the late day. Many seem to know of no other religion but elevated joys and affections, arising only from some flights of imagination, or some suggestion made to their mind, of Christ's being their's, God loving them, and the like." Another entry; June 18,1747, just months before his death in Jonathan Edward's home: "Especially, I discoursed repeatedly on the nature and necessity of that humiliation, self-emptiness, or full conviction of a person's being utterly undone in himself, which is necessary in order to a saving faith; and the extreme difficulty of being brought to this, and the great danger there is of persons taking up with some self-righteous appearance of it...being never effectually brought to die in themselves, are never truly united to Christ, and so perish."
Can we at all identify, dear reader?
Take a journey through the early years of our great land with a courageous servant of God. This is a book to touch the soul, to be re-visited time and again, to be worn out with handling.
But perhaps what makes this journal so compelling, is not the chronicling and inspiration of a remarkable missionary life, so much as the MESSAGE that God anointed. The Church mystical and corporate needs to recover this message today. Delve in and be changed!
-Daniel A. Learned
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon