Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Brainerd's visit to Susquehanna in May 1745

He (David Brainerd) is grateful to be able to stand after 2-3 days of being virtually bedridden because of his illnesses (early stages of tuberculosis). In fact he counted it a joy that he could sit up for half a day and meditate on one verse of Scripture (Psalm 17:15). We count it an inconvenience when our allergies bother us. We call in sick to work when we get a cold, and don't ever even think about having to stay in an Indian hut for a week so our bowels will stop gushing blood enough to ride a horse a couple hundred more miles to preach a few more times. Here is what Jonathan Edwards wrote about his visit to Susquehanna to preach. It was so inspiring as I read it this morning, I thought about how fragile and weak we are in our day.

The next day he set out on his journey to Susquehannah, with his interpreter. He endured great hardships and fatigues in his way thither through a hideous wilderness; where, after having lodged one night in the open woods, he was overtaken with a northeasterly storm, in which he was almost ready to perish. Having no manner of shelter, and not being able to make a fire in so great a rain, he could have no comfort if he stopped; therefore he determined to go forward in hopes of meeting with some shelter, without which he thought it impossible to live the night through; but their horses — happening to have eaten poison [for want of other food] at a place where they lodged the night before were so sick that they could neither ride nor lead them, but were obliged to drive them and travel on foot; until, through the mercy of God, just at dusk, they came to a bark hut, where they lodged that night.

After he came to Susquehannah, he traveled about a hundred miles on the river, and visited many towns and settlements of the Indians; saw some of seven or eight distinct tribes; and preached to different nations, by different interpreters. He was sometimes much discouraged, and sunk in his spirits, through the opposition that appeared in the Indians to Christianity. At other times, he was encouraged by the disposition that some of these people manifested to hear, and willingness to be instructed. He here met with some that had formerly been his hearers at Kaunaumeek and had removed hither, who saw and heard him again with great joy.

He spent a fortnight among the Indians on this river, and passed through considerable labors and hardships, frequently lodging on the ground, and sometimes in the open air. At length he fell extremely ill, as he was riding in the wilderness, being seized with an ague, followed with a burning fever, and extreme pains in his head and bowels, attended with a great evacuation of blood. He thought he would perish in the wilderness. But at last coming to an Indian trader’s hut, he got leave to stay there; and though without physic or food proper for him, it pleased God, after about a week’s distress, to relieve him so far that he was able to ride.

He returned homewards from Juneauta, an island far down the river, where was a considerable number of Indians who appeared more free from prejudices against Christianity than most of the other Indians. He arrived at the Forks of Delaware on Thursday, May 30, after having ridden in this journey about three hundred and forty miles. He came home in a very weak state and under dejection of mind, which was a great hindrance to him in religious exercises. However on the Sabbath, after having preached to the Indians, he preached to the white people, with some success, from Isaiah 53:10, “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him.” Some were awakened by his preaching. The next day, he was much exercised for want of spiritual life and fervency.

Lord, I pray that you get us a missionary heart like his. And I pray that you get us the determination to for fulfill our ministry with the same passion as him.

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