Monday, January 28, 2013


As some of you know, I often read David Brainerd's diary as a source of devotion, inspiration, and motivation to continue to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his suffering.  This morning I was reading John Piper's series called The Swans are Not Silent, which are derived from his biographical studies of the heroes of faith.  This one dealt with the lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd.  There are always nuggets of gold to be found in these studies, and here is one, which is actually a quote from Jonathan Edwards as he reflected on the witnessing of the last 19 months of Brainerd's life and subsequent death at 29 years old from tuberculosis.

"I would conclude my observations on the merciful circumstances of Mr. Brainerd's death without acknowledging with thankfulness the gracious dispensation of Providence to me and my family in so ordering that he ... should be cast hither to my house, in his last sickness, and should die here: So that we had opportunity for much acquaintance and conversation with him, and to show him kindness in such circumstances, and to see his dying behavior, to hear his dying speeches, to receive his dying counsels, and to have the benefit of his dying prayers."

Two things affected me about this.  First, a contextual note; Edwards thanked God for His allowing Brainerd to die at his home for the reasons he mentioned, EVEN THOUGH it probably cost him his daughter, Jerusha.  She had been Brainerd's nurse for the last weeks of his life.  She died of tuberculosis four months after Brainerd.  He noted, "It pleased a holy and sovereign God to take away this my dear child by death on February 14th ... in her 18th year."  It sent chills up my spine to think of the calmness, resolution, and even thankfulness for God's providence in this situation.

Secondly, an impression about the content of this quote.  The impact that Brainerd had on Edwards and his family in just short of five months seemed HUGE.  Thanking God for getting to know him, for the opportunity to care for the sick, for the testimony of the grace given him to die well in faithfulness and satisfaction in Christ, to hear his dying words, wisdom, and prayers.

May it be said of us; may we die well; may people be blessed in watching us die well...

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