This landmark biography concerns David Brainerd, one of the most successful missionaries to live in the colonial era of North America.
Although he lived a short life, perishing at the age of twenty-nine, David Brainerd distinguished himself as a missionary of supreme talent and capacity. Working in the barely charted wildernesses of North America in the early 18th century, his missions aimed to convert the Native American population to the Christian creed. Many converted, partly as Brainerd was capable of preaching sermons in the open air across the untrammeled countryside.
After his missions lasted a little over three years, David was already famous for his successes. Overcoming fears of the Native Americans, he established whole communities of converts, and received several offers of work in large, existing churches in the safer, colonial towns. In rejecting these, he expresses his desire to keep converting the multitude of heathens naive to the greatness of God.
A sensitive soul, David Brainerd suffered from a form of intermittent but severe depression, which was compounded by his lack of company in the wilderness. At times he was malnourished, and his mental and physical condition would become so poor that he was immobile. Eventually illness forced him to give up his ministry; retiring home, he was informed by a doctor that he had tuberculosis, and died in pain only a few months later.
Brainerd's brief life, beset with struggles, was considered inspirational by many Christians. This biography, by Jonathan Edwards, is adapted from the journal that Brainerd kept throughout his life.