This week, God has greatly blessed my reading of The Life of David Brainerd as edited by Jonathan Edwards. Today's Expositor's Quote begins with an excerpt from Edwards' reflections on Brainerd's life, and then illustrates that reflection with some excerpts from his diary:
Is there not much in the preceding memoirs of Mr. Brainerd to teach, and excite to duty, us who are called to the work of the ministry, and all that are candidates for that great work? What a deep sense did he seem to have of the greatness and importance of that work, and with what weight did it lie on his mind! How sensible was he of his own insufficiency for this work; and how great was his dependence on God's sufficiency! How solicitous, that he might be fitted for it! And to this end, how much time did he spend in prayer and fasting, as well as reading and meditation; giving himself to these things!
October 17, 1742: Had a considerable sense of my helplessness and inability; saw that I must be dependent on God for all I want, and especially when I went to the place of public worship. I found I could not speak a word for God without His special help and assistance. I went into the assembly, trembling, as I frequently do, under a sense of my insufficiency to do anything in the cause of God as I ought to do. But it pleased God to afford me much assistance, and there seemed to be a considerable effect on the hearers. In the evening, I felt a disposition to praise God for His goodness to me, that He had enabled me in some measure to be faithful. My soul rejoiced to think that I had thus performed the work of one day more, and was one day nearer my eternal and, I trust, my heavenly home. Oh, that I might be "faithful to the death, fulfilling as an hireling my day," till the shades of the evening of life shall free my soul from the toils of the day! . . . I scarcely ever preach without being first visited with inward conflicts and sore trials. Blessed be the Lord for these trials and distresses as they are blessed for my humbling.
September 19, 1747 (three weeks before his death at age 29): I viewed the infinite excellency of God, and my soul even broke with longings that God should be glorified. I thought of dignity in heaven, but instantly the thought returned, "I do not go to heaven to get honor, but to give all possible glory and praise." Oh, how I longed that God should be glorified on earth also! Oh, I was made for eternity, if God might be glorified! Bodily pains I cared not for; though I was then in extremity, I never felt easier. I felt willing to glorify God in that state of bodily distress, as long as He pleased I should continue in it. The grave appeared really sweet, and I longed to lodge my weary bones in it.
But oh, that God might be glorified! this was the burden of all my cry. Oh, I knew, I should be active, as an angel, in heaven; and that I should be stripped of my filthy garments, so that there was no objection. But, oh, to love and praise God more, to please Him forever! This my soul panted after and even now pants for while I write. Oh, that God might be glorified in the whole earth! "Lord, let thy kingdom come." I longed for a spirit of preaching to descend and rest on ministers that they might address the consciences of men with closeness and power. I saw God "had the residue of the Spirit," and my soul longed it should be "poured from on high." I could not but plead with God for my dear congregation that He would preserve it and not suffer His great name to lose its glory in that work, my soul still longing that God might be glorified.
Jonathan Edwards, The Life of David Brainerd, originally published in 1748, republished in 1989 by Baker. Available online at CCEL.
[Oh Lord, may you excite us to duty by the lives of these great saints who have come before us. How astounding that you choose to use us as instruments of your grace! May you pour out your Spirit on us from on high, that even this Sunday we might proclaim the excellencies of your name and speak with power to the consciences of our congregations. In Jesus' most precious name, Amen -- Coty]
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