Brainerd, David

Brainerd, David, a celebrated missionary to the Indians, was born at Haddam, Conn., April 20, 1718. From his earliest years he had strong impressions of religion. In 1739 he entered Yale College, where he was distinguished for general propriety and devotion to study. An indiscreet remark that one of the tutors was as "destitute of grace as the chair," led, in 1742, to Brainerd's expulsion. He continued without interruption the study of divinity, and, having been licensed to preach, he received from the Scotch Society for promoting Christian Knowledge an appointment as their missionary to the Indians. In 1743 he labored among a Kaunameek tribe and the Delaware Indians. Receiving ordination in 1744, he settled in Crossweeks, N. J. His Indian interpreter, having been converted, proved a most valuable assistant. Deep impressions were made on his savage hearers, so that it was no uncommon spectacle to see the whole congregation dissolved in tears. In the course of a year not less than seventy-seven Indians were baptized, of whom thirty-eight were adults, and maintained a character for Christian consistency. Leaving this little church under the care of William Tennent, Brainerd repaired, in the summer of 1746, to the Susquehanna tribe of Indians, but his previous labors had so much impaired his health that he was obliged to relinquish his work. In July, 1747, he returned to Northampton, where he found a hospitable asylum in the house of Jonathan Edwards, and died there, October 9, 1747. Such was the brief but active career of Brainerd the missionary. The love of Christ, and a benevolent desire for the salvation of men, burned in his breast with the ardor of an unquenchable flame. No opposition could daunt, no difficulties overcome his resolution or exhaust his patience. Obstacles that would have cooled the zeal of any ordinary mind proved no discouragement to him. And perhaps no one in the list of the most devoted missionaries that the Church has ever known undertook so great labors and submitted to so severe privations and self-denial as Brainerd. He was a man of great natural powers of mind, an acute and penetrating understanding, a fertile imagination, a retentive memory, and no common powers of easy, artless, persuasive eloquence, President Edwards prepared a biography of Brainerd, but the best life is that by Dwight, including Brainerd's Journals (New Haven, 1822).-Sparks, Amer. Biog. viii, 259; Jamieson, Relig. Biog, art. i, p. 68; Bacon, Christian Spectator, 7:324.

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