Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Death of David Brainerd

It was on this day 263 years ago David Brainerd died at just 29 years of age in the home of his good friend Jonathan Edwards having literally exhausted his life in the service of his Lord in taking the Gospel to the Indians of New England.

The following is an account of his death as recorded by Mr. Edwards and appended to Brainerd’s diary that was later published by Edwards. I found the third paragraph very interesting as he exhibits a concern that he die patiently so as not to dishonor God:

"On Tuesday, October 6, he lay for a considerable time as if he were dying. At which time he was heard to utter in broken whispers such expressions as these; "He will come, he will not tarry. I shall soon be in glory. I shall soon glorify God with the angels." But after some time he revived.

The next day, viz., Wednesday, October 7, his brother John arrived, being returned from New Jersey; where he had been detained much longer than he intended, by a mortal sickness prevailing among the Christian Indians, and by some other things in their circumstances that made his stay with them necessary. Mr. Brainerd was affected and refreshed with seeing him, and appeared fully satisfied with the reasons of his delay; seeing the interest of religion and of the souls of his people required it.

The next day, Thursday, October 8, he was in great distress and agonies of body; and for the bigger part of the day was much disordered as to the exercise of his reason. In the evening he was more composed, and had the use of his reason well; but the pain of his body continued and increased. He told me it was impossible for any to conceive of the distress he felt in his breast. He manifested much concern lest he should dishonor God by impatience under his extreme agony; which was such that he said the thought of enduring it one minute longer was almost insupportable. He desired that others would be much in lifting up their hearts continually to God for him, that God would support him and give him patience. He signified that he expected to die that night; but seemed to fear a longer delay: and the disposition of his mind with regard to death appeared still the same that it had been all along. And notwithstanding his bodily agonies, yet the interest of Zion lay still with great weight on his mind; as appeared by some considerable discourse he had that evening with the Rev. Mr. Billing, one of the neighboring ministers (who was then present), concerning the great importance of the work of the ministry, etc. And afterwards, when it was very late in the night, he had much very proper and profitable discourse with his brother John, concerning his congregation in New Jersey and the interest of religion among the Indians. In the latter part of the night, his bodily distress seemed to rise to a greater height than ever; and he said to those then about him that it was another thing to die than people imagined; explaining himself to mean that they were not aware what bodily pain and anguish is undergone before death. Towards day, his eyes fixed; and he continued lying immovable till about six o'clock in the morning, and then expired, on Friday, October 9, 1747, when his soul, as we may well conclude, was received by his dear Lord and Master, as an eminently faithful servant, into that state of perfection of holiness and fruition of God which he had so often and so ardently longed for; and was welcomed by the glorious assembly in the upper world, as one peculiarly fitted to join them in their blessed employments and enjoyments.

Much respect was shown to his memory at his funeral; which was on the Monday following, after a sermon preached the same day, on that solemn occasion. His funeral was attended by eight of the neighboring ministers, and 17 other gentlemen of liberal education, and a great concourse of people."

09766: The Life and Diary of David Brainerd The Life and Diary of David Brainerd

By Edited by Jonathan Edwards / Baker

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