David Brainerd.

Memoirs of the Rev. David Brainerd : missionary to the Indians on the borders of New-York, New-Jersey, and Pennsylvania: chiefly taken from his own diary online

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Online LibraryDavid BrainerdMemoirs of the Rev. David Brainerd : missionary to the Indians on the borders of New-York, New-Jersey, and Pennsylvania: chiefly taken from his own diary → online text (page 1 of 54)
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Bv Rev. JONATHAN EDWARDS, op Northampton.






BE IT RE>TEMBERED, That on the twenty-first day of May.
in the forty-sixth year of the Independence of the United States of
America, Sherman Converse, of the said District, hath deposited
in this office the title of a Book, the ri»ht whereof he claims as Pro-
prietor, in the words following', to wit :
" Memoirs of the Rev. David Brainerd ; Missionary to the Indians, on the bor-
" ders of New-York, New-Jersey and Pennsylvania, chiefly taken from his own di-
** ary. By Rev. Jonathan Edwards, of Northampton. Including his Journal, now for
" the first time incorporated with the rest of his diary, in a regular chronological
"series. By Sereno Edwards Dwight."

In conformity to the Act of the Congress of the United States, entitled, " An Act
for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts and
Book?, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein men-
tioned." CHA'S. A. INGERSOLL,

Clerk of the District of Connecticut.
A true copy of Record, examined and sealed by me,


Ckrk of the District of Connecticut.


About the year 1740, several distinguished ministers in the city of
New York and its vicinity; and among them, Rev. Ebenezer Pember-
TON of New York, Rev. Aaron Burr of Newark, and Rev. Jonathan
Dickinson of Ehzabethtown; communicated to the " Society in Scot-
land FOR propagating CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE," " the deplorable and
perishing state of the Indians in the provinces of New York, New
Jersey, and Pennsylvania."

In consequence of this representation, the Society charitably and
cheerfully agreed to the proposal of maintaining two missionaries among
them, to convert them to Christianity; and in pursuance of this design
sent those gentlemen, and some others — both clergymen and laymen,
a Commission to act as their Commissioners, or Correspondents, " in
providing, directing, and inspecting the said Mission."

"As soon as the Correspondents received their commission," to use
their own language, " they immediately looked out for two candidates
for the ministry, whose zeal for the interests of the Redeemer's king-
dom, and whose compassion for perishing souls would prompt them to
such an exceedingly difficult and self-denying undertaking. They
first prevailed with Mr. Azariah Horton to rehnquish a call to
an encouraging parish, and to devote himself to the Indian service.
He was directed to Long Island in August, 1741, at the east end of which
there are two small towns of Indians; and, from the east to the west
end of the island, lesser companies settled at a iew miles distance from
one another, for the distance of more than a hundred miles. At his
first arrival, he was well received by most, and cordially welcomed by
some of them. Those at the east end of the island, especially, gave dili-
gent and serious attention to his instructions; and many of them were
led to ask the solemn enquiry. What they should do to be saved? A
general reformation of manners was soon observable among most of
these Indians. They were careful to attend, and serious and solemn
while attending, upon both pubUc and private instructions. A number


of them were under very deep conviction? of their nriiserable, perishing
state: and about tn-cntij of them give lasting evidences of their saving
conversion to God. Mr. IIorton has baptized thirty-five adults, and
forty-four children. He took pains with them to teach them to read;
and some of them have made considerable proficiency. But the ex-
tensiveness of his charge, and the necessity of his travelling from place
to place, renders him incapable of giving so constant an attendance to
their instruction in reading, as is necessary. In his last letter to the
Correspondents, he heavily complains of a great defection of some of
them from their first reformation and care of their souls; occasioned
by strong drink being brought among them, and their being thereby
allured to relapse into their darling vice of drunkenness. This is a
vice to which the Indians are every where so greatly addicted, and so
vehemently disposed, that nothing but the power of divine grace can
restrain that impetuous lust, when they have opportunity to gratify it.
He likewise complains, that some of them have grown more careless
and remiss in the duties of religious worship, than they were when
first acquainted with the great things of their eternal peace. But, as
a number retain their first impressions, and as they generally attend
with reverence upon his ministry, he goes on with his work with en-
couraging hopes of the presence and blessing of God with him in this
difficult undertaking."

With the subsequent labours and success of Mr. Horton the Editor
is unacquainted; not having been able to ascertain how long he wns em-
ployed as a Missionary; or whether his Diary was ever published.

" It was some time after this, before the Correspondents could obtain
another Missionary. At length they prevailed with Mr. David Brain-
ERD to refuse several invitations to places, where he had a promising
prospect of a comfortable settlement, to encounter the fatigues and
perils which must attend his carrying the Gospel of Christ to these poor,
miserable savages."*

David Buainf:rd, the subject of the ensuing Life, and author of
the Diary incor{)orated with it, was exnmined and approved as a Mis-
sionary, fit the city of New York, by the Correspondents of the Soci-
ety in Scotland for projcigating Christian Knowledge, Nov. 25, 1742.

* These extracts are from the rrofacn of the Correspondent? to Brainerd's Letter
lo Pembertou,


The field of Missionary labour, originally proposed for him by the
Correspondents, was among the Indians living near the Forks of Dela-
ware in Pennsylvania, and the Indians farther westward on the Susque-
hannah. Owing to some contention subsisting, at the time of his ap-
pointment, between these Indians and the whites, concerning their lands,
the Correspondents concluded to defer his mission among them until
harmony was restored; and having received intelligence from the Rev.
Mr. Sergeant, Missionary to the Indians at Stockbridge, Massachusetts,
that the existing state of the Indians at Kaunaiimeek, a place in the
woods between Stockbridge and Albany, promised success to the la-
bours of a Missionary; they selected that as his first station. His
labours at Kminaumeek commenced April 1, 1743, and continued one
year; when he prevailed on the Indians at that place to remove to
Stockbridge and attend on the Rev. Mr. Sergeant's ministry.

Brainerd was ordained as a Missionary at Newark, N. J., June 12th
1744; and on the 22d of the same month, entered on his labours at
Sakhauwotu7ig, within the Forks of Delaware.

On the 5th of October, 1744, he visited, for the first time, the In-
dians on the Susquehannah, and commenced his labours at a place
called Opeholhaiipung.

On the 19th of June, 1745, he began to preach to the Indians at
CrossTiveeksung, a place about twenty miles west of Amboy in New Jer-
sey, and the scene of his greatest success. It is nov*' called Crossweeks,
and is on the road from Amboy to Bordentown.

On the 3d of May, 1746, he removed from that place, with the
whole body of the Indians, to a place called Cranberry, fifteen miles
from Crossweeksung. At these places he continued to reside until
March 20, 1747; when, owing to the ravages of a pulmonary con-
sumption, brought on by his exposures and hardships, his labours as a
Missionary were terminated, and he bade farewell to his beloved Church
and people at Cranberry.

The first communication, made by him to the Correspondents, was
in a letter to the Rev. Mr. Pemberton, of Nov. 5, 1744; giving a suc-
cinct account of his residence at Kaiinanmeck, and of the commence-
ment of his labours of Sakhauwotimg and Opeholhaupung. After this
he regularly forwarded to them a copy of his Diary. They published
extracts from his Diary, in two parts or numbers, with some variations
in the titles. The First part, commencing with his residence at Cross-


weeksungy June 19th, 1745, and reaching to Nov. 4th, 1745; was
pubhshed early in the following year; and was entitled,
"Mirabilia Dei inter Indicos;
Or the Rise and Progress of a remarkable Work of Grace,
Among a number of the Indians,
In the Provinces of New Jersey and Pennsylvania;
Justly represented in a Journal, kept by order of the Honourable
Society in Scotland for propagating Christian Knowledge; with some
General Remarks;

By David Brainerd,
Minister of the Gospel, and Missionary from the said Society:
Published by the Reverend and worthy Correspondents of the said
Society; with a Preface by them."
The Second part, extending from Nov. 24th, 1745, to June 19th
1746, was published in the latter part of that year; and was entitled
" Divine Grace Displayed;
Or the Continuance and Progress of a remarkable Work of Grace
Among some of the Indians
Belonging to the Provinces of New Jersey and Pennsylvania;
Justly represented in a Journal kept by order of the Honourable So-
ciety in Scotland for propagating Christian Knowledge;
with some General Remarks;
To which is subjoined an Appendix, containing some account of sundry
things, and especially of the DifBculties attending the Work of a
Missionary among the Indians;

By David Brainerd,

Minister of the Gospel, and Missionary from the said Society:

Published by the Reverend and worthy Correspondents of of the said

These two parts have always been called " Brainerd's Journal;"
and were pnl)!i<licd during his life.

Braineiu) died at the house of the Rev. Jonathan Edwards, of
Northampton, Oct. 9th, 1747; leaving all his papers in the hands of
that gentleman, " that he might dispose of them as he thought would be
most for (iod's glory, and the interest of Religion." Of these, the
most valuable was the Account of his early life and the original copy of
his Diary. From these materials, Mr. Edwards prej)ared a Life of
Brainerd, an 8vo volume of 31G pages; which was published at Bos-
ton in 1749, with the following title;


"An Account of the Life

Of the late Rev. David Brainerd;

Missionary to the Indians,

From the Hon. Society in Scotland for the propagation of

Christian Knowledge;

And Pastor of a Church of Christian Indians in New Jersey;

Who died at Northampton, October 9th, 1747,

In the 30th year of his age:

Chiefly taken from his own Diary, and other private writings, written

for his own use; and now published.

By Jonathan Edwards, A. M.

Minister of the Gospel at Northampton."

As the Journal had been published but two or three years, and was
already in the possession of the religious public, Mr. Edwards carefully
left out of the Life those extracts from the Diary which were contained
in the Journal. The Diary begins in July 1740, and ends Oct. 2, 1747.
The extracts from it in the Journal extend through one year, from
June 19, 1745, to June 19, 1746. They do not, however, comprise
the whole of the Diary for that year; but, usually, only a part of the
diary for each day. Mr. Edwards, in the Life, supplies the diary for
those days, and parts of days^ of that year, which were omitted in the
Journal; and omits it for those days, and parts of days, which the

Journal contained; regularly inserting a dash in his work, thus

wherever an important extract from the Diary was omitted, to apprize
the reader that he would find that omission under the same date in the
Journal. His delicate integrity would not allow him to subject his
subscribers to the necessity of purchasing the same matter a second
time. The consequence is, that the two publications include different
portions of the Diary, during the most interesting year of his life, the
year of his glorious success at Crossweeksung; yet neither contains
the whole for that year. This fact, could the Life and the Journal be
procured, would render it impossible to read the Diary in a regular
connected series, according to the order of events. But both the
Life and the Journal are now, and for many years have been out of

The Life by Edwards was abridged by John Wesley, and published
in Engl ind a few years after it appeared in this country. A still smal-
ler Abridgment has since been made by John Styles; and frequently


republished both in England and America. The Abridgment by Wes-
ley, the editor has not seen. That by Styles is a cheap 12mo. vol-
ume; made at a time, when the feelings of the British nation had not
been roused to a deep interest in Missions and Missionaries; and when
probably it was supposed, that the complete work would not sell. Beside
omitting a very considerable portion of the Life and Diary, it leaves
out the following Documents, viz: 1, Brainerd's Letter to Pember-
TON, giving an account of his residence at Kaunamneek. 2. His account
of the Doctrines, preached to the Indians at Crosweeksung, and their
extraordinary effects. 3. His method of learning the Indian Language.
4. His method of instructing the Indians. 5. His account of the Diffi-
culties which attend the christianizing of the Indians. 6. The Attesta-
tions of the neighbouring Ministers to the Grace of God displayed
among the Indians. Several of the Remains of Brainerd. 8. Pem-
BERTON^'s Sermon at his Ordination. 9. Edwards' Sermon at his Fu-
neral. 10. Two Letters of John Brainerd, his brother, and succes-
sor as Missionary to the Indians, giving an account of the Indian Con-
verts after his death.

The knowledge of these facts, acquired, not without some degree of
labour and research; and the conviction that the Church, both in Ameri-
ca, and England, is now prepared to welcome a complete Life of Brain-
erd, and that it is calculated to be eminently useful; have lead to the
present Publication.

The state of the public feeling in both countries, is already exten-
sively '.dtered. The friends of Missions are now numerous, and are
rapidly increasing. With their interest in Missions, is associated, of
course, an interest in faithful Missionaries. That the Church at large
feels this interest, the Memoirs of Swartz, Buciianan, Harriet New-
ell, Mills, and Henry Martyn, furnish abundant evidence. But this
interest is not confined to the Missionaries of the present day; it ex-
tends to those of an earlier and a darker period, to Elhott and May-
hew. Those holy men stood the watch-lights of the age in which they
lived. They burned with a flame which could not be extinguished;
for it w{is kindled from the fires of Heaven. In their histories, they
still shine with equal lustre, and shed the same eflfulgence on mankind.
" The foundations of many generations," are beginning to be " restor-
ed;" and the American Church will contemplate, with feelings of sa-


cred pleasure, the Discovery thus ehcited, that her own Elliott was
the Jirst Protestant Missionary to the Heathen.

Before this alteration, the work of Styles was of essential service to
the christian world; for it preserved the remembrance of Brainerd,
and thus kept alive the spirit of Missions. But the whole Church now
feel the deepest interest in the life of that man whom Henry Martyn
made his model; and who would probably be selected by all denomina-
tions of christians as the holiest missionary, if not the holiest man, of
modern times. His name is now extensively known throughout Chris-
tendom; and the time is near, when it will be more generally known,
over this world, than that of Alexander, Caesar, or Napoleon. The
veneration felt for his memory, by the Church, approaches that, with
which they regard the memory of the early Evangelists and the Apos-
tles; and nothing which is an effusion of his pen, a memorial of his life,
or an illustration of his character, will now be regarded with indiffer-

The Editor originally intended to have made this publication one of
the volumes of a complete Edition of the works of President Edwards,
which is now preparing for the press. Three considerations have in-
duced him to publish it by itself. 1. The volume is almost wholly the
work of Brainerd. 2. The works of Edwards are very voluminous
without it. 3. The subscribers to Edwards' Works can easily bind it
as the last volume of these works.

It has been his intention to render this volume as a memoir of Brain-
erd, complete. It contains the whole of the Life and Diary including
the Journal, together with all his letters, and other writings (so far as
they are known to the editor) and the concluding Reflections on his
Memoirs, by President Edwards; all arranged in a regular series, ac-
cording to the order of events. In addition to these, it contains two
letters of John Brainerd, and the Sermons of Pemberton and Ed-
wards; both of uncommon excellence.

The Diary of Brainerd, a single point only excepted, is probably
the best manual of christian experience, ever yst published. The ex-
ception arises from the fact, that the native temperament of Brainerd's
mind inclined him to melancholy. This, his biographer, and himself,
towards the close of life, regarded as a serious unhappiness, not to say
defect, in his character. If the requisite allowance be made for this
constitutional infirmity, the diary will prove altogether useful to the


private christian. As an example of a mind tremulously apprehensive
of sin, loathing it in every form, and for its own sake, avoiding even the
appearance of evil, rising above all terrestrial considerations, advancing
rapidi}^ in holiness, and finding its only enjoyment in the glory of God;
probably no similar work in any language, can furnish a parallel.

In the Reflections on the Memoirs of Brainerd, as in a clear trans-
parent mirror, the reader if he is not voluntarily blind, will discover
the true character of his own heart. The narrative of conversions,
during the long Pentecost season at Croszceeksung, while it cannot fail to
delight and animate the real christian, will satisfy every mind open to
conviction, that the Doctrines there taught were those taught by the
Apostles; and will teach every Minister, that to preach Christ crucified
is the only way to secure the co-operation of the Holy Spirit. The
account given by Brainerd of the Doctrines which he preached to the
Indians, and their visible Effects; of his method of learning their lan-
guage; of his plan of Instruction; and of the Dijficulties in the way of
christianizing them, will also be peculiarly useful to the Missionary;
while the Diary at large will furnish him an example of self-denial, of
patience under privations and sufferings, and of glorying in infirmities,
which Paul himself would have respected and loved. On the whole,
the editor is convinced that few works hitherto published, are calcula-
ted to be equally useful to the Church at large, or to the individual
Christian; and, with these views concerning it, he cheerfully com-
mends it to the blessing of Almighty God; without which the Word of
Life, itself, becomes "a savour of death unto death.^"*


Boston, February ^-2, 1822.



JUNE 12, 1744,









And tlxe Lord said unto the servant, Go out into the high-ways
and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may he

God erected this visible world as a monument of his glory,
a theatre for the display of his adorable perfections. The heav-
ens proclaim his wisdom and power in shining characters, and
the whole earth is full of his goodness. Man was in his original
creation excellently fitted for the service of God, and for per-
fect happiness in the enjoyment of the divine favour. But sin
has disturbed the order of nature, defaced the beauty of the most
disconsolate circumstances of guilt and misery.

The all-seeing eye of God beheld our deplorable state ; infi-
nite pity touched the heart of the Father of mercies ; and infinite
wisdom laid the plan of our recovery. The Majesty of heaven
did not see meet to suffer the enemy of mankind eternally to
triumph in his success ; nor leave his favourite workmanship irre-
coverably to perish in the ruins of the apostacy. By a method,
which at once astonishes and delights the spirits above, he open-
ed a way for the display of his mercy, without any violation of the
sacred claims of his justice ; in which, the honour of the law is
vindicated, and the guilty offender acquitted; sin is condemned,
and the sinner eternally saved. To accomplish this blessed de-
sign, the beloved Son of God assumed the nature of man ; in our
nature died a spotless sacrifice for sin ; by the atoning virtue of
his blood "he made reconciliation for iniquity," and by his per-
fect obedience to the law of God, " brought in everlasting right-

Having finished his work upon earth, before he ascended to
his heavenly Father, he commissioned the ministers of his king-
dom to " preach the gospel to every creature." He sent them
forth to make the most extensive offers of salvation to rebellious
sinners, and by all the methods of holy violence to " compel
them to come in," and accept the invitations of his grace. We
have a lively representation of this in the parable, in which our
text is contained.


The evident design of it is, under the figure of a marriage sup-
per, to set forth the plentiful provision, which is made in our Lord
Jesus Christ for the reception of his people, and the freedom and
riches of divine grace, which invites the most unworthy and mis-
erable sinners, to partake of this sacred entertainment. The first
invited guests were the Jews, the favourite people of God, who
were heirs of divine love, while the rest ofthe world were " ahens
from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the cove-
nants of promise :" but these, through the power of prevailing
prejudice, and the influence of carnal affections, obstinately re-
jected the invitation, and were therefore finally excluded from
these invaluable blessings.

But it was not the design of infinite wisdom, that these costly
preparations should be lost, and the table he had spread remain
unfurnished with guests. Therefore he sent forth his servant
'• into the streets and lanes of the city," and commanded him to
bring in " the poor, the maimed, the halt, and the blind," — i, e,
the most necessitous and miserable of mankind ; — ^yea, to " go out
into the high-ways and hedges," to the wretched and perishing
Gentiles, and not only invite, but even "compel them to come in,
that his house might be filled."

The words ofthe text represent to us,
I. The melancholy state of the Gentile world. They are de-
scribed as " in the high-ways and hedges," in the most
perishing and helpless condition.
II. The compassionate care^ which the blessed Redeemer takes
of them in these their deplorable circumstances. He
" sends out his servants" to them, to invite them to par-
take ofthe entertainments of Aw house,
III. The duty ofthe ministers ofthe gospel, to "compel them to
come in," and accept of his gracious invitation. These
I shall consider in their order, and then apply them to
the present occasion.

I. I am to consider the melancholy state of the Heathen world
while in the darkness of nature, and destitute of divine revelation.
It is easy to harangue upon the excellency and advantage of the
light of nature. It is agreeable to the pride of mankind to exalt
the powers of human reason, and pronounce it a sufficient guide

Online LibraryDavid BrainerdMemoirs of the Rev. David Brainerd : missionary to the Indians on the borders of New-York, New-Jersey, and Pennsylvania: chiefly taken from his own diary → online text (page 1 of 54)