Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Leonhard Euler (1707 - 1783)

Leonhard Euler was mocked by Fredrick the Great and the Voltaire for his Christian faith. Catherine the Great chose to employ this eminent mathematician who was revered by his fellow mathematicians.

Euler was born on April 15, 1707 in Basel, Switzerland to Paul Euler, pastor of a Reformed Church and Marguerite Brucker, a pastor's daughter.

Paul Euler was a friend of Johann Bernoulli who was regarded as Europe's foremost mathematicians. Bernoulli would become one of the men who was an important influence on Leonhard Euler's life.

In his youth he showed exceptional promise in mathematics which eventually was fulfilled. The works of this distinguished scholar fill sixty encyclopedia- size volumes.

He was sent to love with his maternal grandmother and at the age of thirteen Euler entered the University of Basel. He received a Master of Philosophy having written a dissertation comparing the philosophies of Descartes and Isaac Newton. He began receiving lesson from Johann Bernoulli on Saturday afternoons. Bernoulli quickly discovered Euler's incredible talent for mathematics.

Euler had been studying Hebrew, Greek, and theology for his father hoped he would become a pastor. Euler's father wanted him to become a minister so he nearly missed pursuing the field of mathematics. He pleased with his father to allow him to pursue that field at which he was best suited. His father relinquished his his desire to his sons expectations. It was Paul Euler's friend Bernoulli who convinced him to permit Leonhard to study mathematics.

While attempting to obtain a position at the University of Basel in 1726, Euler completed his dissertation on the propagation of sound titled De Sono. Although he was unsuccessful in his attempt to obtain a position at the University; he entered the Paris Academy Prize Problem competition.

The problem to solve was to find the best way to place masts on a ship.

Pierre Bouguer, eventually known as “the father of naval architecture” solved the problem with the winning answer. Leonhard Euler won second place but subsequently won the coveted annual price twelve times in his lifetime.

Euler made major contributions advancing arithmetic, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus. He was a pioneer Swiss mathematician and physicist making several discoveries in the fields of infinitesimal calculus and graph theory. Leonhard Euler was the mathematician who introduced much of contemporary mathematical terminology and notation particularly for mathematical analysis.

The Euler constant, Euler numbers, Eulerian integrals as well as other mathematical forms and symbols are named for him. He was famous for his work in mechanics, fluid dynamics, optics, and astronomy.

Leonhard Euler is considered to be the preeminent mathematician of the 18th Century and is among the greatest mathematicians of all ages.

This statement which is attributed to Pierre-Simon Laplace expresses Euler's influence on mathematics: 
"Read Euler, read Euler, he is our teacher in all things," also translated as "Read Euler, read Euler, he is the master of us all."

Catherine I of Russia invited Euler to teach at the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg. Unfortunately, she died before Euler received the appointment. His financial circumstances were such that he considered a position in the Russian navy. Fortunately, he did receive the teaching position at the Academy and didn't go to sea.

He eventually married and had children which would sit upon his lap while he produced work of high-caliber which amazed his friends. He was invited to Prussia by Frederick the Great after he became a renowned mathematician. Voltaire and Frederick hated Christianity and mocked Euler for his 'simple' beliefs.

Euler published “Letters to a German Princess” which was a book of science and faith written for his pupil Frederick's niece although Frederick was uncouth and mean.

Much of what we known of Leonhard Euler's Protestant Christian beliefs can be deduced from “Letters to a German Princess” and an earlier work Rettung der G├Âttlichen Offenbahrung Gegen die Einw├╝rfe der Freygeister - (Defense of the Divine Revelation against the Objections of the Freethinkers).

These works of Euler clearly reveal that he was a devout Protestant Christian who believed the Bible to be inspired; the Rettung is primarily a lucid argument defending the divine inspiration of scripture.

Letters to a German Princess” was eventually translated into seven languages and widely read throughout all of Europe. Euler brought academic luster to the Berlin Academy. Unfortunately, Frederick turned against Euler so the eminent mathematician returned to Russia.

Euler produced an earlier work titled: “Defense of the Divnie Revelation against the Objections of the Freethinkers.These works clearly indicate the Euler was a devout Protestant Christian believing in the inerrant Scriptures.

David Brewster was a nineteenth-century physicist and biographer of Euler. He notes that Euler's fame and disruptions throughout his life:

“never induced him to abandon the religious duties to which he had been educated. As long as he preserved his sight, he assembled the whole of his family every evening, and read a chapter of the Bible, which he accompanied with an exhortation.”

It is interesting to examine how Euler was viewed in Frederick's court in the light of Euler's strong Protestant Christian belief.

Euler's student. Nicholas von Fuss, observed that his instructor's 

“piety was rational and sincere. His devotion was fervent. He was fully persuaded of the truth of Christianity. He felt its importance to the dignity and happiness of human nature, and looked on its detractors, and opposers, as the most pernicious enemies of man.” 
Euler wrote apologetics arguing forcefully against prominent atheists of his age.

A famous anecdote which was inspired by Leonhard's arguments which occurred with secular philosophers concerning Christinity. The contest occured after Euler's return to academy in St. Petersburg.

Denis Diderot, the French philosopher, was visiting Russia at the invitation of Catherine the Great. The Empress became alarmed by the philosopher's attempt to influence the members of her court through intellectual argument supporting atheism. Leonhard Euler was asked to confront the French freethinker. The French philosopher was informed that a learned mathematician had proof of the existence of God. Diderot agreed to examine the proof as it was presented by the mathematician in the court.

Euler appeared in the court of Catherine the Great and approached Diderot. In a tone of perfect conviction Euler announced to Diderot:


God exists – reply!”

Pearls of laughter erupted from the court of Catherine the Great. Diderot, to whom all mathematics was gibberish – so says the story – was dumbstruck.

Consequently, he was embarrassed and asked to leave Russia, a request which was graciously granted by the Empress of Russia.

The anecdote is apocryphal given that Diderot was a capable mathematician who published several mathematical treatises which he had written.

Although his house burned; his papers were saved. It appears that disaster began to stalk him for his wife died in 1773 after 40 years of marriage. Three years after the death of his beloved wife Katharina; he married her half sister, Salome Abigail Gsell (1723-1794). His marriage to Salome lasted until his death.

While solving a problem in three days which would take most mathematicians a month to solve; he lost his sight. Eventually, a cataract formed in his good eye. A few weeks after the cataract was discovered in 1766; it rendered him nearly totally blind.

Surgery restored sight in both eyes but an infection causing excruciating pain took his sight in both eyes. He declared that only his faith in God enabled him to bear the pain.

His condition had little effect on his productivity. He compensated for the condition with mental calculations and a photographic memory. Euler could reiterate the Aeneid of Virgil from beginning to end without hesitancy. He could indicate which line was the first and which was the last line for every page of the work of literature.

The aid of his loyal scribes enabled him to be productive in many areas of study which actually increased despite his misfortune. Euler, produced on average one mathematical paper each week in the year of 1775.

Among the greatest achievements in science was the fact that he solved some of the most difficult mathematical problems on the blackboard of his mind while not being distracted by the activities surrounding him. He would dictate the solutions to his friends who would document the achievement.

Leonhard Euler is among the greatest geniuses mathematics has known.

John Witherspoon (1723 - 1797)

“The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men"

Historians consider John Witherspoon (1723-1794) to be “the great teacher” of the American Revolution for independence. He has the honored distinction of being the only clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence. Witherspoon is Scottish by birth and American by adoption. He was educated in Edinburgh, Scotland and became a prominent preacher and an advocate of the orthodox christian faith. He stood firm to the historic Christian faith while the Presbyterian church was troubled with liberal modernizing movements.

Witherspoon was a leader in the Popular Party deeply involved in Scottish church politics where the party resisted the hereditary rights of the lords of Scotland.

John Witherspoon became the President of Princeton University when he came to American in 1768.
He became an outspoken advocate defending the American colonists against tyranny. When he was elected to Congress as a delegate from New Jersey; Witherspoon chose to sign the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Witherspoon was chairman over several committees in the Continental Congress. He served in Congress until 1782 when independence from England was secured. He returned to Princeton and continued to educate young men until his death.

After returning to Princeton, New Jersey, Witherspoon continued to serve the government of his adopted state and nation becoming a prominent national figure. His impact upon the lives of his students at Princeton is profound. One writer declared:

“twenty future senators, twenty-five future congressmen, three futures governors, and one future president of the United States – James Madison, who remained at Princeton after graduation to pursue further studies with Witherspoon.”

His works were widely read shaping a conception of liberty and the role that the Christian religion in establishing civic virtue. His works profoundly influenced the shaping of the American Constitution.

John Witherspoon preached the sermon “The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men” on may 17, 1776 at Princeton University. Witherspoon was truly a most important 'political parson” during the American war for Independence against Great Britain.

The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men”
If your cause is just - you may look with confidence to the Lord and intreat him to plead it as his own. You are all my witnesses, that this is the first time of my introducing any political subject into the pulpit. At this season however, it is not only lawful but necessary, and I willingly embrace the opportunity of declaring my opinion without hesitation, that the cause in which America is now in arms, is the cause of justice, of liberty, and of human nature. So far as we have hitherto proceeded, I am satisfied that the confederacy of the colonies, has not been the effect of pride, resentment, or sedition, but of a deep and general conviction, that our civil and religious liberties, and consequently in a great measure the temporal and eternal happiness of us and our posterity, depended on the issue. The knowledge of God and his truths have from the beginning of the world have been chiefly, if not entirely, confined to those parts of the earth, where some degree of liberty and political justice were to be seen, and great were the difficulties with which they had to struggle from the imperfection of human society, and unjust decisions of usurped authority. There is not a single instance in history in which civil liberty was lost, and religious liberty preserved entire. If therefore we yield up our temporal property, we at the same time deliver the conscience into bondage...
I have said, if your principles are pure - the meaning of this is, if your present opposition to the claims of the British ministry does not arise from a seditious and turbulent spirit, or a wanton contempt of legal authority; from a blind and factious attachment to particular persons or parties; or from a selfish rapacious disposition, and a desire to turn public confusion to private profit - but from a concern for the interest of your country, and the safety of yourselves and your posterity. On this subject I cannot help observing, that thou it would be a miracle if there were not many selfish persons among us, and discoveries now and then made of mean and interested transactions, yet they have been comparatively inconsiderable both in number and effect. In general, there has been so great a degree of public spirit, that we have much more reason to be thankful for its vigor and prevalence, than to wonder at the few appearances of dishonesty or disaffection. It would be very uncandid to ascribe the universal lardo that has prevailed among all ranks of men, and the spirited exertions in the most distant colonies, to any thing else than public spirit. Nor was there ever perhaps in history so general a commotion from which religious differences have been so entirely excluded. Nothing of this kind has as yet have been heard, except of late in the absurd, but malicious and detestable attempts of our few remaining enemies to introduce them. At the same time I must also, for the honor of this country observe, that though government in the ancient forms has been so long unhinged, and in some colonies not sufficient care taken to substitute another in its place; yet there has been, by common consent, a much greater degree of order and public peace, than men of reflection and experience foretold or expected. From all these circumstances I conclude favorably and the principles of the friends of liberty, and do earnestly exhort you to adopt and act upon those which have been described, and resist the influence of every other...
Suffer me to recommend to you an attention to the public interest of religion, or in other words, zeal for the glory of God and the good of others. I have already endeavored to exhort sinners to repentance; what I have here in view is to point out to you the concern which every good man ought to take in the national character and manners, and the means which he ought to use for promoting public virtue, and bearing down impiety and vice. This is a matter of the utmost moment, and which ought to be well understood, both in its nature and principles. Nothing is more certain than that a general profligacy and corruption of manners make a people ripe for destruction. A good form of government may hold the rotten materials together for some time, but beyond a certain pitch, even the best constitution will be ineffectual, and slavery must ensue. On the other hand, when the manners of a nation are pure, when true religion and internal principles maintain their vigor, the attempts of the most powerful enemies to oppress them are commonly baffled and disappointed. This will be found equally certain, whether we consider the great principles of God's moral government, or the operation and influences of natural causes.
What follows from this? That he is the best friend to American liberty, who is most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion, and who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down profanity and immorality of every kind. Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not to call him an enemy to his country. Do not suppose, my brethren, that I mean to recommend a furious and angry zeal for the circumstantials of religion, or the contentions of one sect with another about their peculiar distinctions. I do not wish you to oppose any body's religion, but every body's wickedness. Perhaps there are few surer marks of the reality of religion, than when a man feels himself more joined in spirit to a true holy person of a different denomination, than to an irregular live of his own. It is therefore your duty in this important and critical season to exert yourselves, every one in his proper sphere, to stem the tide of prevailing vice, to promote the knowledge of God, the reverence of his name and worship, and obedience to his laws.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

John Jasper (1813 - 1901)

A Baptist slave preacher died in 1812 leaving his pregnant widowed wife on the Peachy family plantation in Virginia. The young widow continued to pray dedicating her unborn son to the Lord.

“Lord, if dis chile you's sendin' me is a boy, doan' let him do nuthin' else but sing de praises of Jesus.”

She named her boy after John the Baptist when he was born. The widow continued to pray for her son although he grew to become a prodigal. Samuel Hargrove, a deacon of the First Baptist Church in Richmond, eventually purchased her son. John began to work in Samuel Hargrove's tobacco factory. His godly mother's prayer was answered on July 25, 1839.

John Jasper delighted in telling what happened on that July day.

“One July mornin' somethin' happen'd...Fac' is, bruth'n, de darkness of death was in my soul dat mornin'. My sins was piled on me like mount'ns; my feet was sinkin' down to reguns of despar, an' I felt dat all sinners I was de wust. I tho't dat I would die right den, an' wid what I supposed was my lars breath I flung up to heav'n a cry for mercy. 'Fore I kno'd it, de light broke; I was light as a feather, my feet ws on de mount'n; salvation rol'd like a flood thru my soul, an' I felt as if I could 'nock off de fact'ry roof wid my shouts...”
“Twan' long 'fore I looked up de line agin, an' dar was a good ol' woman dar dat know all my sorrers, an' had been prayin' fur me all de time. I had to tell her, an' so I skip along up quiet as a breeze, an' start'd to whisper in her ear, but just den de holin-back straps of Jasper's breachin' broke, an' what I tho't would be a whisper was loud enuf to be hearn clean 'cross Jeems River...All I know'd I had raise my fust shout to de glory of my Redeemer.”
“But for one thing thar would er been a jin'ral revival in de fact'ry dat mornin'. Dat one thing was de overseer. He bulg'd into de room, an' wid a voice dat sounded like he had his breakfus dar mornin' on rasps an' files, bellowed out: 'What's all dis row 'bout?' Somebody shouted out dat John Jasper gun got religun, but dat didn't work 'tall wid de boss. He tell me to git back to my I sed: 'Yes, sir, I will; I ain't meant no harm; de fus taste of salvation got de better un me, but I'll git back to my work.' An' I tell you I got back quick.”
“Bout dat time Mars Sam he come out'n his orfis, an' he say: 'What's de matter our here?' An' I hear de overseer tellin' him: 'John Jasper kick up a fus, an' say he dun got religun.'”
“Little aft'r I hear Mars Sam tell de overseer he want to see Jasper...I sez to him: '...Jes' now out dar at de table God tuk my sins away, an' set my feet on a rock. I didn't mean to make no noise, Mars Sam, but 'fore I know'd it de fires broke out in my soul, an' I jes' let go one shout to de glory of my Savior.' Mars Sam's face was rainin' tears.”

Samuel Hargrove gave John Jasper his freedom so that he might preach. John Jasper became a pastor and the founder of the Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church of Richmond, Virginia. Jasper began his church with only six members but before he died in 1901, church membership had grown to two thousand members. 

John Langdon (1741 – 1819)

John Langdon was one of the signers of the Constitution of the United States. He also became a United States Senator and President (Governor) of New Hampshire.

This sixth generation American of considerable wealth was the first patriot to put his fortune in jeopardy during the American Revolution. He supplied arms and money to the Continental Army and fought as a colonel in the militia.

Langdon proclaimed before Congress his belief that slothfulness was as infidelity.

“There was evidence in New Hampshire of an 'infidel age' in which the indolent, extravagant and wicked may divide the blessings of life with the industrious, the prudent and the virtuous.”

As President (Governor) of New Hampshire, he made this official Proclamation for a General Thanksgiving on October 21, 1785 to the his state.

A Proclamation For A General Thanksgiving

“THE munificent Father of Mercies, and Sovereign Disposer of Events, having been graciously pleased to relieve the UNITED STATES of AMERICA from the Calamities of a long and dangerous war; through the whole course of which, he continued to smile on the Labours of our Husbandmen, thereby preventing Famine (the almost inseparable Companion of War) from entering our Borders; -eventually restored to us the blessings of Peace, on Terms advantageous and honorable.”
“And since the happy Period, when he silenced the Noise of contending Armies, has graciously smiled on the Labours of our Hands, caused the Earth to bring forth her increase in plentifully Harvests, and crowned the present Year with new additional Marks of his unlimited Goodness:”
“It therefore becomes our indefensible Duty, not only to acknowledge, in general with the rest of Mankind, our dependence on the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, but as a People peculiarly favored, to testify our Gratitude to the Author of all our Mercies, in the most solemn and public manner.”
I DO therefore, agreeably to a Vote of the General Court, appointing Thursday the 24th Day of November next, to be observed and kept as a Day of GENERAL THANKSGIVING throughout the State, by and with the Advice of Council, issue this Proclamation, recommending to the religious Societies of every Denomination, to assemble on that Day, to celebrate the Praise of our divine Benefactor;”
“to acknowledge our own Unworthiness, confess our manifold Transgressions, implore his Forgiveness, and intreat the continuance of those Favours which he had been graciously pleased to bestow upon us;”
“that he would inspire our Rulers with Wisdom, prosper our Trade and Commerce, smile upon our Husbandry, bless our Seminaries of Learning, and spread the Gospel of his Grace over all the Earth..
“And all servile Labour is forbidden on said Day.”
“GIVEN at the Council-Chamber in Concord, this Twenty-first Day of October, in the Year of our Lord, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty-five, and in the Tenth Year of the Independence of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA.”

On February 21, 1786 President (Governor of New Hampshire) Langdon issues “A Proclamation for a Day of Fasting and Prayer”

“A Proclamation For A Day of Public FASTING and PRAYER Throughout this State [1786]”

“Vain is the acknowledgment of a Supreme Ruler of the Universe, unless such acknowledgments influence our practice, and call forth those expressions of homage and adoration that are due to his character and providential government, agreeably to the light of nature, enforced by revelation, and countenanced by the practice of civilized nations, in humble and fervent application to the throne for needed mercies, and gratitude for favors received.”
“In having been the laudable practice of this State, at the opening of the Spring, to set apart a day for such denomination, to assemble together on said day, in their respective places of public worship;”
“that the citizens of this State may with one heart and voice, penitently confess their manifold sins and transgressions, and fervently implore the divine benediction, that a true spirit of repentance and humiliation may be poured out upon all orders and degrees of men, and a compleat and universal reformation take place:”
“that he who gave wisdom and fortitude in the scenes of battle, would give prudence and direction to extricate us from succeeding embarrassments, build up, support and establish this rising Empire;”
“particularly, that he would be pleased to bless the great Council of the United States of America, and direct their deliberations to the wise and best determinations, succeed our embassies at foreign Courts, bless our Allies, and national Benefactors.”
“that he would always be pleased, to keep this State under his most holy protection: that all in the legislature, executive and judicial departments, may be guided and supported by wisdom, integrity and firmness, that all the people through this State, and through the land, may be animated by a true estimation of their privileges, and taught to secure, by their patriotism and virtue, what they have acquired by their valour:”
“that a spirit of emulation, industry, economy and frugality, may be diffused abroad, and that we may all be disposed to lead quiet and peaceable lives, in all goodness and honesty;”
“that he would be graciously pleased to bless us in the seasons of the year, and cause the earth to yield her increase, prosper our husbandry, merchandise, navigation and fishery, and all the labour of our hands, and give us to hear the voice of health in our habitations, and enjoy plenty of our borders:”
“that unanimity, peace and harmony, may be promoted and continue, and a spirit of universal philanthropy pervade the land that he would be pleased to smile upon the means of education, and bless every institution of useful knowledge;”
“and above all, that he would rain down righteousness upon the earth, revive religion, and spread abroad the knowledge of the true GOD, the Saviour of man, throughout the world.”
“And all servile labour and recreations are forbidden on said day.”
GIVEN at the Council-Chamber in Portsmouth, this twenty-first day of February, in the year of our LORD, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-six, and in the tenth year of the Sovereignty and Independence of the United States of America.”

He was a founder and first President of the New Hampshire Bible Society; whose goal was to place a Bible in every New Hampshire home. President James Monroe visited Governor John Langdon in 1817 while on a tour through the New England states. The following article was recorded in a local newspaper:

“While at Portsmouth, the President spent that part of the Sabbath which was not devoted to public divine service, with that eminent patriot and Christian, John Langdon. His tarry at the mansion of Gov. L. was probably longer than the time devoted to any individual in New England. It is thus that the President has evinced his partiality to our most distinguished and illustrious citizen.”

Elias Boudinot Jr. (1740-1821)

Elias Boudinot Jr. of Elizabeth, New Jersey, was elected as a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1777 to 1784. Furthermore, he served as president from 1782 to 1783. This illustrious American statesmen and lawyer served three terms in Congress and ten years as the Director of the Mint. Throughout his life, he supported several civic and educational causes. Elias Boudinot was a trustee of Princeton University for nearly half a century.

He became the president of the American Bible Society when it was founded in 1816. Upon accepting this office, he considered the position as “the greatest honor” which had been bestowed upon him “this side of the grave.”

He was a man of unwavering faith in God who called upon men to the work of making the Bible readily accessible to Americans. An annual salary of $400 was considered a good income. He generously gave a monetary gift of $10,000 to enable the formation and organization of the American Bible Society.

“'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself' - Let it then (as workmanship of the same Divine hand) be our peculiar constant care and vigilant attention to inculcate this sacred principle, and to hand it down to posterity...Good government generally begins in the family, and if the moral character of a people once degenerate, their political character must soon follow.”

George Bancroft (1800 - 1891)

George Bancroft was the Secretary of the Navy during the administration of President James Polk. The United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland was established during his service as Secretary of the Navy. Furthermore, Bancroft served as U.S. Minister to Great Britain and to Germany.

He was the author of the ten volume History of the United States. The first volume was published in 1834. The History of the United States was the first comprehensive history of America written from its beginning to the ratification of the Constitution. His history was the best known and most widely read history of the United States for over fifty years.

George Bancroft was a most proficient historian, diplomat, and educator.

The following extract is from his History of the United States:

“Puritanism had exalted the laity...For him the wonderful counsels of the Almighty had appointed a Savior; for him the laws of nature had been compelled and consulted, the heavens had opened, the earth had quaked, the Sun had veiled his face, and Christ had died and risen again.”

George Bancroft made the following statement in his address, “The Progress of Mankind” which was published in his work Literary and Historical Miscellanies:

“For the regeneration of the word it was requisite that the Divine Being should enter the abodes and hearts of men and dwell there; that a belief in Him should be received which would include all truth respecting His essence; that He should be known, not as a distant Providence of boundless power and uncertain and inactive will, but as God present in the flesh...”
“Amid the deep sorrows of humanity during the sad conflict which was protracted during centuries for the overthrow of the past and the reconstruction of society, the consciousness of an incarnate God carried peace into the bosom of humanity...”
“This doctrine once communicated to man, was not to be eradicated. It spread as widely, as swiftly, and as silently as the light, and the idea of GOD WITH US dwelt and dwells in every system of thought that can pretend to vitality; in every oppressed people, whose struggles to be free have the promise of success; in every soul that sighs for redemption.”

Friday, September 16, 2011

David Brainerd (1718 - 1747)

David Brainerd was the sixth of ten children born to Hezekiah and Dorothy Brainerd. He was born in 1718 in the colony of Connecticut. His father was a Puritan legislator of Haddam Connecticut. David was nine years old when his father Hezekiah died. Dorothy Brainerd was the daughter of Reverend Jeremiah Hobart. David was raised in a strict home of members of the Congregational church. Bible reading, prayer, Sabbath observance, and reading Christian classics such as Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress and Baxter's A Call to the Unconverted were the order of the day.

He was thirteen years old when his mother Dorothy departed from this world. Consequently, he did not have a carefree childhood. David’s older brother Hezekiah Jr. became the head of the household. David was welcome to stay on the family homestead with Hezekiah and his wife. A year later David’s sister Jerusha married a farmer from East Haddam; so he chose to live with them.

He inherited a farm ten miles from Haddam from his father Hezekiah and decided to attempt farming when he reached the age of nineteen. Consequently, David discovered he wasn’t suited to become a successful farmer but made a pledge to God to become a minister.

His older brother Nehemiah became a minister after graduating from Yale. He admired his older brother hoping to follow in his footsteps. Although he desired to become a minister, he disagreed with certain doctrines found in the Holy Scriptures. He found it difficult to be submissive to a sovereign God and rebelled against the doctrine of original sin. He saw Divine law as something which too strict and disagreed with the doctrine of justification by faith. He found it difficult to believe there was nothing one could in one’s own strength to commend a person to God.

He worked unsuccessfully for a year on the farm and return to Haddam where he lived and studied with Pastor Phineas Fiske. David wasn’t a member of the church nor could become one until he experienced assurance of salvation.

David walked through the forest on a morning in July of 1739. He came to the realization that he was lost and in need of a savior. He saw that all of his religious endeavors did not obligate God to be gracious and merciful to him. Two days later, on July 12, 1739, David Brainerd reached a turning point in his life.

“When I was again walking in the same solitary place…unspeakable glory seemed to open to the view and apprehension of my soul. I do not mean any external brightness, for I saw no such thing…It was a new inward apprehension or view that I had of God, such as I never had before; nor anything which had the least resemblance of it...”
“I felt myself in a new world…At this time the way of salvation opened to me with such infinite wisdom, suitableness, and excellency, that I wondered I should ever think of any other way of salvation; was amazed that I had not dropped my own contrivances, and complied with this lovely, blessed, and excellent way before. If I could have been saved by own duties, or any other way that I had formerly contrived, my soul would now have refused it. I wondered that all the world did not see and comply with this way of salvation, entirely by the righteousness of Christ."

When Jonathan Edwards edited Brainerd’s diary after his death; Edward's wrote at the top of the page:

“Lord’s day, July 12th 1739 forever to be remembered by D.B.”

Two months later, David Brainerd entered Yale to eventually become a missionary to the Indians of Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. His years at Yale were difficult. Yale was created as an alternative to Harvard which had become very liberal departing from the authority and truths declared in the Scriptures. Although there were many religious activities at Yale, they had little effect upon the students enrolled at the institution. Diversions in which students participated were harassing the townspeople, gambling, and drinking parties.

His tutor noticed that David was spitting up blood in August of 1740. These were the first signs that David contracted tuberculosis. Consequently, his tutor suggested that he return home to rest, get well, and recuperate.

David was in his second year at Yale when George Whitefield preached before the student body.

The twenty-five year old Anglican evangelist George Whitefield preached at Yale but David was recuperating at home. When David returned in February, the fruit of Whitefield’s preaching became manifest throughout the student body. Tensions arose between the members of the student body who were touched by the Spirit of God during the awakening and the members of the faculty who resisted the revivalists.

The Irish American evangelist Gilbert Tennent of the Log College preached at Yale in March. His ministry had a profound impact upon the student body at Yale.

Thomas Clap, rector and president of Yale and the trustees of the college stood against the Revivalists. By September of 1741, they condemned the students who were in support of the movement of the Holy Spirit which became known as the Great Awakening. Consequently, the passed a resolution that declared:

“…that if any student of this college shall indirectly state that the rector…the trustees or tutors are hypocrites, carnal, or unconverted men, he shall for his first offense make a public confession in the Hall, and for the second offense be expelled.”

In 1741, Jonathan Edwards was invited to preach at the commencement at Yale. The faculty hoped that he would dampen the student’s enthusiasm for revival. Consequently, his message was not what the trustees and faculty wanted to hear. Edwards didn’t dampen the student’s enthusiasm but encouraged them affirming that the Great Awakening was a genuine manifestation of the work of the Holy Spirit.

The very morning of the day Edwards spoke to the students of Yale; the trustees voted that a student could be expelled for making accusations that a faculty member was unconverted.

In the afternoon Edwards declared in his message:

“It is no evidence that a work is not a work of God, if many that are subjects of it…are guilty of [so] great forwardness to censure others as unconverted.”

This was the first time that David Brainerd and Jonathan Edwards met. Realizing they had much in common Brainerd and Edwards saw each other often.

In his junior year, Brainerd spent several hours discussing spiritual matters with his fellow classmates. A discussion turned to the subject of a particular tutor Chauncy Whittelsey and David was asked by his friends to share his thoughts on the matter.

A freshman overheard David’s remark “He has no more grace than this chair.” Consequently, President Clap was informed and Brainerd was summoned to appear before him. David admitted that he had made the comment and was instructed to make a public apology before the student body.

David believed that his comment was a private remark and a public confession was inappropriate so he refused to comply with the president’s expectations. David was immediately expelled for President Clap saw this as a flagrant act of rebellion. Although David was first in his class; he was summarily expelled from Yale.
One may wonder whether Jonathan Edward may have felt a measure of responsibility for David Brainerd’s expulsion from Yale.

A law passed in the colony of Connecticut declared that only ministers who were graduates of Harvard, Yale, or a European University could be installed within a church. Hence, David Brainerd was cut off from his calling to become an ordained minister in Connecticut.

David wrote a letter to President Clap and the trustees of Yale confessing his sin in handling the situation. Although he offered to make a sincere apology before the student body, President Clap rejected his appeal.

Jonathan Dickinson and Aaron Burr Sr. were graduates of Yale and Presbyterian ministers. They appealed to the trustees and president of Yale on Brainerd’s behalf but were rejected. They became disillusioned by the refusal of their efforts to have Brainerd readmitted to Yale.

The expulsion of David Brainerd and the refusal to readmit him brought to a head the dissatisfaction Presbyterians had with Yale. Hence, they resolved to charter a college of their own which was the College of New Jersey and eventually became Princeton University.

Fortunately, a group of ministers who supported the Holy Spirit’s sovereign movement of the awakening chose to license him to preach. David was appointed as a missionary to the American Indians.

In May of 1747 the College of New Jersey met in Dickinson’s home where David Brainerd was recovering before moving to Jonathan Edwards home. Hence, David Brainerd became known as the College of New Jersey’s first student. Dartmouth College was founded for Native Americans and colonists in 1748 by Eleazar Wheelock who was inspired by Brainerd's example of Native American education.

Brainerd's missionary work among the Indians was supported by the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. The Society approved Brainerd for this work on November 25, 1742.

Brainerd actually began working as a missionary to the Indians on April 1, 1743 after serving at a church on Long Island for a brief period. He continued to minister to the Indians until 1746 when his illness prevented him for continuing the work. David also suffered on at least twenty-two occasions from bouts of depression which immobilized him. Furthermore, he suffered from difficulties such as loneliness and poor nutrition.

He first worked as a missionary in Kaunameek which is a Housatonic Indian settlement near the contemporary location of Nassau, New York. Brainerd took several trips to Northampton, Massachusetts where Edwards was a pastor. During those visits he became acquainted with Edward's second daughter Jerusha. David and Jerusha continued a correspondence while he ministered among the Indians. This site was approximately thirty miles northwest from John Sergeant who was a missionary working in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Jonathan Edwards served for a time at Stockbridge as a missionary.

He worked in Kaunameek for a year and started a school for Native American children where he began to teach them the Psalms.

He was reassigned to minister to the Delaware Indians – the Lenni Lenape living along the Delaware River, The region was known as the Forks of the Delaware in the vicinity north of Easton. A small marker can be found on a side road indicating the site of his cabin located near Marshall's Creek, Pennsylvania. He remained in this area for another year while he was being ordained by the Newark Presbytery. David ministered to Indians at the “Forks of the Delaware” which is near Portland, Pennsylvania a few miles north of Easton. He traveled by horseback as far as Sunbury, Pennsylvania which is along the Susquehanna River north of Harrisburg.

David moved to Crossweeksung, New Jersey where he was blessed with a fruitful ministry. Within a year, he had a congregation of 130 members at the Crossweeksung Indian church. In 1746, the church moved to Cranbury, New Jersey where they established a Christian community.
On November 3, 1745 he baptized fourteen people who experienced conversion. He called this “a remarkable work of grace.” God was blessing his work among the Indians of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Although David was given the opportunity to become a minister and leave the mission field he refused to several offers. Among the offers was an invitation to minister at a church in east Hampton on Long Island, New York. David chose to continue to minister to the Native Americans despite the difficulties he encountered.

“[I] could have no freedom in the thought of any other circumstances or business in life: All my desire was the conversion of the heathen, and all my hope was in God: God does not suffer me to please or comfort myself with hopes of seeing friends, returning to my dear acquaintance, and enjoying worldly comforts'.”

Brainerd saw 130 Indians come to know Jesus Christ at Crossweeksung. At twenty-eight, David had been a missionary to the Indians for four years. He was ministering to the Delaware Indians at Crossweeksung, New Jersey.

Here is a selection of his Diary recording the events of March 23, 1746.

“There being about fifteen strangers, adult persons, come among us in the week past – divers of whom had never been in any religious meeting till now – I thought it proper to discourse this day in a manner peculiarly suited to their circumstances and capacities; and accordingly attempted it from Hosea 13:9, “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself…” In the forenoon, I opened in the plainest manner I could man’s apostasy and ruined state, after having spoken some things respecting the being and perfections of God, and His creation of man in a state of uprightness and happiness. In the afternoon, endeavored to open the glorious provision God has made for the redemption of apostate creatures, by giving His own dear Son to suffer for them and satisfy divine justice on their behalf. There was not that affection and concern in the assembly that has been common among us, although there was a desirable attention appearing in general, and even in most of the strangers.”
“Near sunset I felt an uncommon concern upon my mind, especially for the poor strangers, that God had no much withheld His presence, and the powerful influence of His Spirit, from the assembly in the exercises of the day; and thereby denied them that degree of conviction which I hoped they might have had. In this frame I visited sundry houses and discoursed with some concern and affection to divers persons particularly, but without much appearance of success, till I came to a house where divers of the strangers were. There the solemn truths I discoursed of appeared to take effect, first upon some children, then upon divers adult persons that had been somewhat awakened before, and afterwards upon several of the pagan strangers.”
“I continued my discourse, with some fervency, till almost every one in the house was melted into tears; and divers wept aloud and appeared earnestly concerned to obtain an interest in Christ. Upon this, numbers soon gathered from all the houses round about and so thronged the place that we were obliged to remove to the house where we usually meet for public worship. The congregation gathered immediately, and many appeared remarkably affected. I discoursed some time from Luke 19:10. “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”...
“There was much visible concern and affection in the assembly, and I doubt not but that a divine influence accompanied what was spoken to the hearts of many. There were five or six of the strangers, men and women, who appeared to be considerably awakened. And in particular one very rugged young man, who seemed as if nothing would move him, was now brought to…weep a long time.”

David Brainerd died of tuberculosis a year and a half after making this entry in his diary.

In November of 1746 he became too ill to minister to his Indian congregation. He lived with Jonathan Dickinson at his home in Elizabethtown, New Jersey. He traveled to Northampton, Massachusetts to live with Jonathan Edwards within a few months of his stay at Dickinson's home. David visited Boston in the summer of 1746 but remained returned to Edward's home where he stayed until his death till his death.

In May of 1747 he was no longer able to minister and was invited to stay at Jonathan Edwards home. His beloved Jerusha became his attentive nurse. He was diagnosed with incurable consumption in May of 1747 and suffered very much during the final months of his life.

On September 24, 1747, he made the following entry in his diary.

'In the greatest distress that ever I endured having an uncommon kind of hiccough; which either strangled me or threw me into a straining to vomit'.

Brainerd wrote: “It is a little piece of heaven to be in her presence.”

In the morning of Sunday, October 4, 1747, David Brainerd was aware that he was dying. He spoke to Jerusha as she entered his room:

“Dear Jerusha, are you willing to part with me? I am willing to part with you; I am willing to part with all my friends; I am willing to part with my dear brother John…I’ve committed him and all my friends to God and can leave them with God. Though, if I had thought I should not see you and be happy with you in another world, I could not bear to part with you. But we shall spend a happy eternity together.”

David Brainerd died five days later at the age of twenty nine in the home of Jonathan Edwards. Jerusha contracted tuberculosis as well and died on the following Valentine’s Day at the age of eighteen. Her family chose to bury her next to David.

 Edwards edited and published Brainerd’s journal and diary which he titled An Account of the Life of the Late Reverend Mr. David Brainerd.

David Brainerd’s diary and journal became a devotional which inspired and encouraged hundreds of Christians to become missionaries. It has continuously been in print throughout the years since Edward’s edited the work. John Wesley, Henry Martyn, William Carey, Robert Morrison, Robert Murray McCheyne, David Livingston, Andrew Murray, Adsoniram Judson, and Jim Elliot are among the many Christians who have been influenced by this young man’s devotion to God.

William Carey is known as the “Father of Modern Missions.” His three beloved heroes were the Apostle Paul, John Elliot, and David Brainerd. One of the rules of his groups of missionaries in India was to read David Brainerd's diary three times a year. Carey has often been quoted as declaring: “Attempt great things for God, Expect great things from God.”

William Carey's oft quoted statement is an echo of Brainerd who declared:

“Nothing seems too hard for God to perform, nothing too great for me to hope from Him.”

Henry Martyn, a brilliant scholar at Cambridge, intended to pursue a career in law but after reading Brainerd's diary decided to enter the mission field.

“I long to be like him, Let me forget the world and be swallowed up in the desire to glorify God.”

Martyn declared: “Let me burn out for God.” He may have been inspired by Brainerd when David recorded in his diary:

“Oh, with what reluctancy did I feel myself obligated to consume time in sleep. I long to be a flame of fire, continually glowing in the divine service in building Christ’s Kingdom to my last and dying moment.”

John Wesley urged Christians: 'Let every preacher read carefully over the Life of David Brainerd'.

Clyde Kilby summarized Brainerd's influence as being based on the fact that:

'in our timidity and our shoddy opportunism we are always stirred when a man appears on the horizon willing to stake his all on a conviction'.

Gideon Hawley wrote in the midst of struggles:

'I need, greatly need, something more than humane [human or natural] to support me. I read my Bible and Mr. Brainerd's Life, the only books I brought with me, and from them have a little support'

Inscribed on David Brainerd's gravestone is this text:

Sacred to the memory of the Rev. David Brainerd. A faithful and laborious missionary to the Stockbridge, Delaware and Sasquehanna TRIBES OF INDIANS WHO died in this town. October 10, 1747 AE 32.

Proclaim Liberty Throughout all the Land

The Assembly of the Province of Pennsylvania gave instructions to Superintendents Isaac Norris, Thomas Leech and Edward Warmer to purchase a bell which would be cast in England. The bell, weighing approximately 2000 pounds, was cast fifty years after William Penn issued his Charter of Privileges.

Pennsylvania was founded in 1701 and in 1751 the Pennsylvania Assembly commissioned the purchase of a bell to be placed in the bell tower of the Philadelphia State House. The bell was cast in London, England at the Whitechapel Foundry.

The bell was ordered to commemorate the “Jubilee” or 50th year anniversary of the Charter of Privileges.

Their letter dated November 1, 1751, gave instructions that the bell would have an inscription from the Bible, Leviticus 25:10. The inscription was appropriate for the preceding verse declared: “And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year.” 
It has been put forward by Charles Michael Boland, author of Ring in the Jubilee, that Benjamin Franklin proposed the reference for the inscription.

William J. Federer, author of America’s God and Country – Encyclopedia of Quotations states that it was actually Isaac Norris, a member of the Society of Friends, who chose the 10th verse of Leviticus chapter 25 to be placed on the bell.

“And ye shall make hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof, it shall be a jubilee.” Leviticus 25:10

The inscription actually cast on the bell, August 1752, read:


The Old Testament required that every seventh year was to be a ‘Sabbath year.’ According the Leviticus 15:1-7; the land was to have a rest. The “Year of Jubilee” occurred every 50th year and was accompanied by a “Proclamation of Liberty.” According to Leviticus 25:35-55; the poor would be freed from debts, the slave set free from bondage, and ancestral property would be returned to families. Furthermore, there was to be an equitable sale of land.

The ringing of bells within a city was the chief means of communicating important announcements for the citizens. A new bell was ordered to be installed in the newly constructed State House which today is known as Independence Hall. When an Assembly Bell was rung; citizens would gather together to hear news which would then spread throughout the colony. A larger bell was needed to accommodate the growing population of the city of Philadelphia.

After the bell cast for the Pennsylvania State House arrived in the colony; it cracked when it was tested. It is unlikely the bell cracked from poor craftsmanship at the Whitechapel Foundry which is still in existence. It is possible that an improper technique was used when testing the bell after it arrived in Philadelphia. The ship’s log indicates they suffered some severe weather while crossing the Atlantic. Hence, it is likely the damage occurred while on transport to America.

John Adams commented: “The bell cracked because America had not yet been given its freedom by Great Britain.”

John Pass and John Stow, local craftsmen in Philadelphia, broke apart the bell and recast it in 1753. Some people believed the bell did not sound as well as the bell should sound. The bell was broken apart once more and hurriedly recast.

Having cast the bell twice, John Pass and John Stowe thought it was appropriate that their names appear on the bell rather than the initials of Whitechapel Foundry.

The Pennsylvania Gazette, June 7, 1753 declared:

“Last week was raised and fix’d in the Statehouse Steeple, the new great Bell, cast here by Pass and Stow, weighing 2000 lb. with this Motto, Proclaim Liberty throughout the Land, unto all the Inhabitants thereof; Lev xxv. 10.

Pass and Stow chose to place the Biblical reference of “Proclaim Liberty” in a prominent inscription at the top of the bell.

The bell was rung in 1757 when Benjamin Franklin was sent to England to address the grievances of the American colonies. Furthermore, it was tolled in 1761 when King George III ascended the throne of England. It tolled when the citizens of Philadelphia gathered to discuss the Sugar Act of 1764 and the Stamp Act of 1765.

Traditional history states that Bell first cracked on July 8, 1835, while tolling the death of Chief Justice John Marshall. The bell was rung infrequently thereafter. 

The bell was 90 years old in 1846 when a debate broke out between two churches who disputed which church would ring their respective bells on the anniversary of George Washington’s birthday. The Roman Catholic St Peter’s Church and the Episcopalian Christ’s Church wanted the honor of tolling their respective bells. There was actually a fee of $30.00 paid to a church for the honor of ringing a bell on the occasion of Washington’s Birthday. The City Council accepted the proposal of a newspaper man who suggested that the cracked bell in the State House be used on the occasion. 

The City Council of Philadelphia issued an order to repair the Bell so that it could be tolled on February 22nd to celebrate George Washington’s Birthday. The crack was drilled out so that the edges of the crack would not vibrate against each other preventing further damage to the Bell. Consequently, it was the repair, the drilling out of the crack that makes it so visibly pronounced. The work was completed in a timely manner so the bell sounded on the birthday celebration.

It gave out clear notes and loud…until noon, when it received a sort of compound fracture…which put it completely out of tune…” (Public Ledger, 2-26-1846.)

The Bell sounded its last note on February 22, 1846, while celebrating George Washington’s 114th birthday. It was its 95th year from its being ordered from Whitehall Foundry.

The Bell was replaced in the steeple of the Pennsylvania State House by a larger bell in 1828.

Francis Wayland (1796-1865)

Francis Wayland was the President of Brown University from 1827 to 1855. Wayland was also the first president of the American Institute of Instruction in 1830.

He played a significant part in the creation of the school system of Providence, Rhode Island. Wayland was a graduate of Union College and Harvard University.

He was the author of Elements of Moral Science, 1835; Elements of Political Economy, 1837; Thoughts on the Present Collegiate System in the United States, 1842; and A Memoir of the Life of the Rev. Adoniram Judson, D.D., 1842.

Francis Wayland a well-known American clergyman who proclaimed:

“That the truths of the Bible have the power of awakening an intense moral feeling in every human being; that they make bad men good, and send a pulse of healthful feeling through all the domestic, civil, and social realms;”
“that they teach men to love right, and hate wrong, and seek each other's welfare as children of a common parent; that they control the baleful passions of the heart, and thus make men proficient in self government;”
“and finally that they teach man to aspire after conformity to a Being of infinite holiness, and fill him with hopes more purifying exalted, and suited to his nature than any other book the world has ever known – these are facts as incontrovertible as the laws of philosophy, or the demonstrations of mathematics.”

Jonathan Trumbull (1710-1785)

Jonathan Trumbull was the British Governor of Connecticut appointed by King George III. Furthermore, he was the father of the renowned Revolutionary War artist of the same name (1756-1843).

Governor Trumbull was empathetic to the cause of the American colonists. In 1773, he openly proclaimed:

“It is hard to break connections with our mother country, but when she strives to enslave us, the strictest union must be dissolved...'The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitudes of isles be glad thereof.' - the accomplishment of such noble prophecies is at hand.'”

Prior to the Revolution in the 1770s, as tensions mounted between the American colonies and England,
King George appointed another governor. The new governor appointed by King George wrote to the Board of Trade in England.

“If you ask an American, who is his master? He will tell you he has none, nor any governor but Jesus Christ.”

Governor Trumbull proclaimed a day of Fasting and Prayer on April 19, 1775.

“God would graciously pour out His Holy Spirit on us to bring us to a thorough Repentance and effectual Reformation that our iniquities may not be our ruin; that He would restore, preserve and secure the Liberties of this and all the other British American colonies, and make the Land a mountain of Holiness, and Habitation of Righteousness forever.”

He wrote from Lebanon, Connecticut to George Washington on July 13, 1775. In his letter, he exhorted General Washington of the Continental Fast Day.

“The honorable Congress have proclaimed a Fast to be observed by the inhabitants of all the English Colonies on this continent, to stand before the Lord in one day, with public humiliation, fasting and prayer, to deplore our many sins, to offer up our joint supplications to God, for forgiveness, and for his merciful interposition for us in this day of unnatural darkness and distress.”
“They have, with one united voice, appointed you to the high station you possess. The Supreme Director of all events hath caused a wonderful union of hearts and counsels to subsist among us. Now therefore, be strong and very courageous.”
“May the God of the armies of Israel shower down the blessings of his Divine Providence on you, give you wisdom and fortitude, cover your head in the day of battle and danger, add success, convince our enemies of their mistaken measures, and that all their attempts to deprive these Colonies of their inestimable constitutional rights and liberties are injurious and vain.”

Governor Trumbull called for nine additional regiments of volunteers in August of 1776 in answer to General Washington's plea for reinforcements.

“In this day of calamity, to trust altogether to the justice of our cause, without our utmost exertion, would be tempting Providence...March on! - This shall be your warrant: Play the man for God, and for the cities of our God. May the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, be your Captain, your Leader, your Conductor, and Savior.”