Excerpts from David Brainerds Diary

David Brainerd(1718-1747)

Excerpts from his diary

Lord's Day, April 25. This morning I spent about two hours in secret duties and was enabled more than ordinarily to agonize for immortal souls. Though it was early in the morning and the sun scarcely shined at all, yet my body was quite wet with sweat. I felt much pressed now, as frequently of late, to plead for the meekness and calmness of the Lamb of God in my soul; and through divine goodness felt much of it this morning. Oh, it is a sweet disposition heartily to forgive all injuries done us; to wish our greatest enemies as well as we do our own souls! Blessed Jesus, may I daily be more and more conformed to Thee.

At night I was exceedingly melted with divine love and had some feeling sense of the blessedness of the upper world. Those words hung upon me with much divine sweetness, Psalm 84:7: "They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God." Oh, the near access that God sometimes gives us in our addresses to Him! This may well be termed appearing before God: it is so indeed, in the true spiritual sense, and in the sweetest sense. I think I have not had such power of intercession these many months, both for God's children and for dead sinners as I have had this evening. I wished and longed for the coming of my dear Lord: I longed to join the angelic hosts in praises, wholly free from imperfection. Oh, the blessed moment hastens! All I want is to be more holy, more like my dear Lord. Oh, for sanctification! My very soul pants for the complete restoration of the blessed image of my Saviour, that I may be fit for the blessed enjoyments and employments of the heavenly world.


Monday, April 12. This morning the Lord was pleased to lift up the fight of His countenance upon me in secret prayer, and made the season very precious to my soul. Though I have been so depressed of late, respecting my hopes of future serviceableness in the cause of God, yet now I had much encouragement respecting that matter. I was especially assisted to intercede and plead for poor souls and for the enlargement of Christ's kingdom in the world, and for special grace for myself to fit me for special services. I felt exceedingly calm and quite resigned to God, respecting my future employment, when and where He pleased. My faith lifted me above the world and removed all those mountains that I could not look over of late.

I wanted not the favor of man to lean upon; for I knew Christ's favor was infinitely better, and that it was no matter when, nor where, nor how Christ should send me, nor what trials He should still exercise me with, if I might be prepared for His work and will. I now found revived, in my mind, the wonderful discovery of infinite wisdom in all the dispensations of God towards me, which I had a little before I met with my great trial at college; everything appeared full of divine wisdom.


Tuesday, October 26. (At West Suffield) Underwent the most dreadful distresses, under a sense of my own unworthiness. It seemed to me I deserved rather to be driven out of the place than to have anybody treat me with any kindness, or come to hear me preach. Verily my spirits were so depressed at this time (as at many others) that it was impossible I should treat immortal souls with faithfulness. I could not deal closely and faithfully with them, I felt so infinitely vile in myself. Oh, what dust and ashes I am, to think of preaching the gospel to others! Indeed I never can be faithful for one moment, but shall certainly "daub with untempered mortar" if God do not grant me special help. In the evening I went to the meetinghouse, and it looked to me near as easy for one to rise out of the grave and preach, as for me. However, God afforded me some life and power, both in prayer and sermon, and was pleased to lift me up and show me that He could enable me to preach! Oh, the wonderful goodness of God to so vile a sinner! Returned to my quarters and enjoyed some sweetness in prayer alone, and mourned that I could not live more to God.


hursday, November 3. Spent this day in secret fasting and prayer, from morning till night. Early in the morning, I had some small degree of assistance in prayer. Afterwards, read the story of Elijah the prophet, I Kings 17,18, and 19, and also 11 Kings 2 and 4. My soul was much moved observing the faith, zeal, and power of that holy man and how he wrestled with God in prayer. My soul then cried with Elisha, "Where is the Lord God of Elijah!" Oh, I longed for more faith! My soul breathed after God and pleaded with Him that a "double portion of that spirit," which was given to Elijah, might "rest on me.

That which was divinely refreshing and strengthening to my soul was that I saw that God is the same as He was in the days of Elijah. Was enabled to wrestle with God by prayer in a more affectionate, fervent, humble, intense, and importunate manner than I have for many months past. Nothing seemed too hard for God to perform; nothing too great for me to hope for from Him.

I had for many months entirely lost all hopes of being made instrumental of doing any special service for God in the world. It has appeared entirely impossible that one so black and vile should be thus employed for God. But at this time God was pleased to revive this hope.

Afterwards read the third chapter of Exodus and on to the twentieth, and saw more of the glory and majesty of God discovered in those chapters than ever I had seen before. Frequently in the meantime I fell on my knees and cried to God for the faith of Moses and for a manifestation of the divine glory. Especially the third and fourth, and part of the fourteenth and fifteenth chapters, were unspeakably sweet to my soul. My soul blessed God that He had shown Himself so gracious to His servants of old. The fifteenth chapter seemed to be the very language which my soul uttered to God in the season of my first spiritual comfort, when I had just got through the Red Sea, by a way that I had no expectation of.

Oh, how my soul then rejoiced in God! And now those things came fresh and lively to my mind. Now my soul blessed God afresh that He had opened that unthought-of-way to deliver me from the fear of the Egyptians, when I almost despaired of life.


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