David Brainerd, “A Pure and Fervent Flame of Love to God”

Each year the elders at our church recommend that families read a missionary biography. For 2008, our recommendation was the biography of David Brainerd compiled by Jonathan Edwards.

Jonathan Edwards captures the essence of why it was important that we read Brainerd’s biography,

“that we may be in like manner faithful in our work; that we may be filled with the same spirit, animated with the like pure and fervent flame of love to God, and the like earnest concern to advance the kingdom and glory of our Lord and Master, and the prosperity of Zion!”

Edwards further comments on his focus on the glory of God,

‘Oh that the things that were seen and heard in this extraordinary person, his holiness, heavenliness, labor, and self-denial in his life, his so remarkably devoting himself and his all, in heart and practice to the glory of God…” Jonathan Edwards, Works, Vol.2, 35-36).

Here are nine critical messages of Brainerd’s life that we hope are transformational for us at our church.

1. His sensitivity to sin

It is possible that Brainerd had an over active sensitivity to sin, but it may also be true that we at Hope Baptist are less sensitive to sin – maybe too much so. We wanted to encourage a greater hatred of sin as we see in Brainerd. He writes, “Saw myself so vile and unworthy that I could not look my people in the face when I came to preach. Oh, my meanness, folly, ignorance, and inward pollution.” p146 At the same time, he shows his desire for holiness, “My soul breathed after God in sweet spiritual and longing desires of conformity Him.’ P107

2. His sufferings

His body was constantly at war with him and the disease that finally claimed his life caused him to feel poorly nearly every day of his life. Some of of the people in our church have experienced the most difficult year of their lives physically. Brainerd shows us how one man dealt with constant sickness and physical hardship. “With regard to the comforts of life. Most of my diet consists of boiled corn, hasty-pudding, etc. I lodge on a bundle of straw, my labor is hard and extremely difficult, and I have little appearance of success to comfort me.” P124

3. His short life.

Brainerd was Saved at age 21 and he died age 29. At age 25 he became a missionary to the Indians. So for eight years he was a Christian and four years a missionary. We have a church full of young people and how important it is that we help them labor in meaningful things.

4. His struggle with depression

He experienced emotional ups and downs and brought them before the throne of God. He was often lonely and cold and without adequate food. He was among Indians and could not communicate with them in their native languages. We may struggle with discouragement, but we need also recognize that God is in control and He will glorify Himself even when we do not feel good about what is happening in our lives.

5. His devotion to evangelism

“I wanted to wear out my life in His service, and for His glory,” p81 Brainerd inspires us that all of our energies ought to be invested in eternal things.

6. His passion for prayer

We that Brainerd is constantly devoting large amounts of time for prayer. He writes, “this morning I spent about two hours in secret duties and was enabled more than ordinarily to agonize for immortal souls.” P81

7. His use of time

Brainerd desired that his time would be spent for God’s glory. He said, “O that I may never loiter in my heavenly journey.”

8. His weakness and God’s strength

Brainerd’s fruitfulness was not dependent upon himself but upon Divine blessing. Here is David Brainerd looking back on his work among the Indians, “It is remarkable that God began this work among the Indians at a time when I had the least hope and, to my apprehension, the least rational prospect of seeing a work of grace propagated amongst them. My bodily strength and been much wasted… exposed to hardships and fatigues… my mind also exceedingly depressed with a view of the unsuccessfulness of my labors. I had little reason so much as to hope that God had made me instrumental in the saving conversion of any of the Indians… Whence I learn that it is good to follow the path of duty, though in the midst of darkness and discouragement.” p243

9. He was a blessed brother – he ministered to Jonathan Edwards’ children while in Edwards house on his deathbed

“He applied himself to some of my younger children at this time, calling them to him and speaking to them one by one; setting before them, in very plain manner, the nature and essence of true piety and its great importance and necessity; earnestly warning them not to rest in anything short of a true and thorough change of heart and a life devoted to God.” p366

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R. Kent Hughes – Beloved Expositor

My appreciation runs high for my preaching professor in seminary – R. Kent Hughes. With all his heart he appealed to us to preach the Word using the expository method. That was 28 years ago. Now, a book on preaching has been dedicated to him: Preach the Word: Essays on Expository Preaching: In Honor of R. Kent Hughes
The exposition of scripture was the focus of his life for over forty years. This book celebrates this legacy by bringing together fifteen of his friends to write about the things he loved so much. The Editor, Leland Ryken has included an article by D.A. Carson who speaks succinctly about critical issues for preaching by boiling it down to five observations.
Commenting on expository preaching he says that it is essentially, “unpacking what is there… If we expect God to re-reveal himself by his own words, then our expositions must reflect as faithfully as possible what God actually said…”
This was the heart of Kent Hughes’ ministry to young seminarians and I know several who continue to live the vision he cast so long ago. One Sunday morning a decade ago, my wife Deborah and I attended College Church where Kent was preaching. I could hardly hold back the tears as he preached – he was still doing the things he taught us to do so many years before and it was beautiful to me.

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My Parents, Bill and Mary Brown Celebrate 61 Years of Marriage Today

As the eldest son, I am perhaps one of the supreme authorities on this marriage since I have had the closest and longest inside view of almost anyone alive. As a long term observer, I must say that this has been a sweet marriage. Some of the more junior observers of this marriage say:
Grandson David says: “It is a blessing to watch the example of their interactions.”
Granddaughter Blair says: “I want a marriage like that.”
Granddaughter Claudia says: “We have had the benefit of 61 years of a marriage on the right path – their lives have been such a good example to me.”
Daughter in-law Deborah says: “Staying married this long has made them free to be with us and minister to us – like today when Grandmary helped Claudia bake.”

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2009 Calendar Events for the National Center for Family Integrated Churches

February 13-14 “Our Marriages and The Marriages of our Son’s and Daughters,” Wake Forest, NC
March 14-15 Reforming Church and Family | Unpacking Family Integrated Church Life – Wake Forest
September 18-19 Church Planters Symposium – Anderson Indiana
October 24-25 Reforming Church and Family | Unpacking Family Integrated Church Life – Wake Forest
December 10-12 National NCFIC Conference – The Sufficiency of Scripture for Church and Home Life
For more information email David Brown: [email protected]

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Activating The Affections Through Sermons and Books

Here is an insightful article from Tim Challies on the mind and the affections and their relationship to listening to sermons and reading books. It is true that we cannot remember everything we hear or read, but our affections are formed by them and that works for the glory of God and for our sanctification.

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Expansion of the NCFIC

We are now engaged in a significant expansion of the ministry of the National Center for Family Integrated Churches. The NCFIC was founded on September 11, 2001 and after seven years of ministry and laying a foundation, we believe that now is the time to give the NCFIC a distinct internet presence. This will allow us to clarify and amplify the message, increase the services, multiply the theological resources and extend the reach of the ministry.

This expansion includes the following:

  1. Spinning the NCFIC web site out as a stand-alone resource.
  2. Locating the offices of the NCFIC in Wake Forest, NC.
  3. Getting to work on a big build-out of the web site content in audio, print and video.
  4. Adding new functions and capabilities to the web site.
  5. Adding employees.
  6. Conducting a national conference in Dec 3-5, 2009 with Voddie Baucham and Doug Phillips
  7. Discipling interns.

We believe that the church and the family are both holy institutions deserving our most excellent attentions. Please join us in prayer for the beautification and the proper functioning of church and family in our generation
Please prayerfully consider a donation to the NCFIC. Funds donated to Vision Forum Ministries must specify that the gift is for the NCFIC.

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Radio Show on “What about Deborah?”

Does the case of Deborah during the time of judges provide a role model for women of God or is it an exception to the creation order? How does Deborah’s story instruct us today? This controversial discussion provides many insights to both men and women who are trying to live according to the Word of God. Scott Brown and William Einwechter discuss what scripture actually teaches regarding this godly woman who was a blessing to her nation in a time of social collapse.



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Phillips and Swanson Discuss Solutions for Rebuilding Churches and Families

Take a moment to listen to an important discussion on the relationship between the church and the family and the growing crisis of our youth departing from the church. This audio clip from 2006 is a recorded segment of Kevin Swanson’s Generations Radio program interviewing Doug Phillips, founder of the National Center for Family Integrated Churches.

In this interview Doug identifies some of the main issues that need to be addressed for the reformation of the church. He makes it clear that while the church has become a bastion of secularism, there is a revival of biblical fatherhood and an understanding of church and family life is key to church revival. Doug says, “If you destroy fathers you destroy the family. If you destroy the family you destroy the church. In our churches we have wiped out our fathers.”

Click here to listen to the audio

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Whitefield on Evangelism

Following Whitefield’s example would keep us from missed opportunities in evangelism


“God forbid that I should travel with anybody a quarter
of an hour without speaking of Christ to him.”


This is one thing we learn from Whitefield that would help us bring more blessing.

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Whitefield Rock

On October 16, 1740 George Whitefield preached here on this rock. It was very moving to stand in the same spot and to visualize the hearts that burned for God during the Great Awakening and to consider that it could happen again – whenever God desires

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Radio Dialog on the Creation Order with Bill Einwechter

Scott Brown interviews William Einwechter on Kevin Swanson’s radio show, on the implications of the creation order for women serving as civil magistrates.


Click Here to listen to the show

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The Unconverted Know Nothing of Such Happiness

J.C. Ryle writes of the special nature of the church and the joys which exist there,

“Who, indeed, can describe the pleasure with which the members of Christ’s flock do meet each other face to face? They may have been strangers before. They may have lived apart and never been in company; but it is wonderful to observe how soon they seem to understand each other. There seems a thorough oneness of opinion, taste, and judgment, so that a man would think they had known each other for years.

They seem, indeed, to feel they are servants of one and the same Master, members of the same family, and have been converted by one and the same Spirit. They have one Lord, one faith, one baptism. They have the same trials, the same fears, the same doubts, the same temptations, the same faintings of heart, the same dread of sin, the same sense of unworthiness, the same love of their Savior. Oh, but there is a mystical union between true believers, which they only know who have experienced it. The world cannot understand it—it is all foolishness to them. But that union does really exist, and a most blessed thing it is; for it is like a little foretaste of heaven.

Beloved, this loving to be together is a special mark of Christ’s flock—nor is it strange, if we consider they are walking in the same narrow way and fighting against the same deadly enemies—and never are they so happy as when they are in company. The unconverted know nothing of such happiness.”

From, “The Character of the True Christian” in The Christian Race reprinted by Charles Nolan Publishers,
www.charlesnolanpublishers.com, 94-95.

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David Brainard’s Passion for Holiness


David Brainerd was enormously sensitive to the condition of his relationship with God. When I read his biography I was astonished at how “up” and “down” he was in his spirit. He had a moment by moment awareness of sin and his need for repentance. Here are some statements that communicate just how passionate he was,

“I know I long for God and conformity to His will, in inward purity and holiness, ten-thousand times more than for anything else here below.” Pg. 79

He prays, “Oh, that I may be always humble and resigned to God, that He would cause my soul to be more fixed on Himself, that I may be more fitted both for doing and suffering.” Pg. 76

“Oh that my soul may never offer any dead, cold services to my God.” Pg.83

Brainerd died young, but his death touched off a revival among men and platoons of them entered into missionary service for over two hundred years after he was buried. These missionaries, were affected deeply by his disposition of sensitivity to sin and the need for God’s help to conquer it.


Scott Brown speaking at the grave of David Brainerd

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Passion for the Gospel All Life Long The Death of George Whitefield


In this house, the great evangelist, George Whitefield breathed his last.

Even up till the day of his death, Whitfield never tired, nor retired from preaching the Gospel. Before Whitefield preached to a large crowd in Exeter, a bystander said to him, “Sir, you are more fit to go to bed than to preach.” Whitefield answered, “True, sir;” and looking up he said, “Lord Jesus, I am weary in thy work, but not of thy work. If I have not yet finished my course, let me go and speak for thee one more time in the fields, seal thy truth, and come home and die.” After preaching, he made his way to Old South Presbyterian Church in Newberryport, MA in need of rest. When he arrived at the home of Jonathan Parsons, the pastor, he told him that he was tired and needed to go to bed. By that time, the street in front of the house had filled with many people begging to hear him preach. Even though he was physically spent, he couldn’t resist an opportunity to preach the Gospel once more. As he wearily made his way up the stairs, people crowded into the house eagerly waiting to hear him again. He stood on the landing halfway up the stairs, candle in hand, heedless of time, and preached until the candle flickered, and finally went out. Retiring to his bed, finding it hard breathe as a result of his asthma, he continued to struggle through the night. At about two-o’clock in the morning, Richard Smith, brought him some cider and said to him that he shouldn’t preach so often. Whitefield replied, “I had rather wear out, than rust out.” By morning he had breathed his last.

Whitefield shows us the importance of playing our part to the very end and fulfilling the calling that God has given us.

“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them.” Romans 12:6

(From, Gillies Life of George Whitefield, page 270.)

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The Graves of Jonathan Edward’s Children

All of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards children are buried together,except for Jerusha who is buried next to David Brainerd. Their graves are about 100 yards away from the rest. David Brainerd spent the last months of his life in the Edwards home and Jerusha nursed him there. She died of the same disease soon after.

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