Edwards to Brainerd


n 1747, he (Johnathan Edwards) joined the movement started in Scotland called the “concert in prayer,” and in the same year published An Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer for the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth. In 1749, he published a memoir of David Brainerd who had lived with his family for several months and had died at Northampton in 1747. Brainerd had been constantly attended by Edwards’s daughter Jerusha, to whom he was rumored to have been engaged to be married, though there is no surviving evidence of this. In the course of elaborating his theories of conversion, Edwards used Brainerd and his ministry as a case study, making extensive notes of his conversions and confessions. (Taken from a Wikipedia article)…

My Dear David:

I write this letter to crystallize my thoughts on what it has meant to be acquainted with you. Of course our dear Jerusha ministers to your every need bedside, as best she can. She has great affection for you, and this is a rare treasure, my Son in the faith. Lord allow the day when you will have regained your vigour and faculties; that perhaps a deeper attachment might be explored.

But in these days you drift in and out, and conversation is sparse. This letter speaks my heart for disclosure at the appropriate moment. You have told us, and your Journals particularize, the adventures in the wild with your native brothers and sisters. So often without a place to set your head, as was the case with our Lord. Riding through heat or rain. Living on bannock, fiddleheads, wild berries and tubers. Talking, preaching, joking, dreaming with your faithful horse. Occasionally with Moses when a circuit has been pre-planned for his interpretation to the Indians.

I would like to meet that man; learn of his former life; hear of the urgings of conviction; learn what testimony of yours hit the mark, or just as likely some extraordinary supernatural move to the inner man.

David, I do not mean to puff you up. I know of the hazards in that. But friend, your intense hunger to go to the remote, to bear with constraints and the elements, to battle with superstition and child-like stubbornness; to give the Good Gospel Report and little else, has moved me in indescribable ways, first with shame and then with challenge.

You have struggled with melancholy and you have allowed your mission and prayers to be the balm.

I intend with your permission to extend your notes to a much wider circle. Pastors and mature Christians will be thrilled with scenes of the raw wilderness and of the unsophisticated response of your friends of the forest.

I think of James’ words about the prayer of faith for the sick, and I assure you Brother that this family pours out many on your behalf. Until you recover and we happily discuss these measures at greater length, I remain

Your faithful servant and friend in Christ, Johnathan

(Note: This letter is a piece of historical fiction surrounding the care of missionary David Brainerd at Northampton shortly before his death on October 9, 1747 from consumption and asthma in his thirtieth year. )


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