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Sweetly Set on God: The Piety of David Brainerd - Profiles in Reformed Spirituality (Benge, ed.)

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“Sweetly Set on God” introduces readers to the life and journal writings of David Brainerd (1718–1747), best remembered for his missionary work among the American Indians. Dustin Benge begins by presenting the events of Brainerd’s short life and the intense personal spiritual piety that undergirded his pioneering missionary work. Then, in fifty-one excerpts drawn from Brainerd’s journal, readers will discover his evangelical humiliation, his understanding that God had altered his sinful human nature, his sensitivity to sin, and his holiness of life. Read this book and come to view Brainerd as Jonathan Edwards, his biographer, did: as “a remarkable instance of true and eminent Christian piety in heart and practice.”

Table of Contents:

The Piety of David Brainerd—Dustin W. Benge 

Section One: Hungering and Thirsting after Righteousness

1. Seeking Assurance

2. The Insufficiency of All Duties

3. A New Inward Apprehension

4. Full Assurance of His Favor

5. Hungering and Thirsting

Section Two: May I Daily Be More and More Conformed to Thee

6. Humble and Resigned to God

7. A Sweet Day Coming

8. Farewell, Vain World

9. Christian Friends

10. Incessant Prayer

Section Three: I Must Be Dependent on God

11. Sweet Comfort

12. Friends

13. Conformed to God

14. Weaned from the World

Section Four: Distressed for the Interest of Zion

15. The Eternal World

16. Spiritual Conflicts

17. Access to the Throne of Grace

18. Go Forth after God

Section Five: The Important Trust Committed to Me

19. Mortification of Sin

20. Sweet Repose and Rest in God

21. Improvement of All Time

22. I’ll Go to Immortality

23. My Soul Breathed after God

24. Spiritual Deadness

25. Oh, for Divine Grace!

26. Sweet Meditations

27. Dead to the World

28. Vile and Unworthy

29. Ordination

Section Six: Much Assisted in Preaching

30. Bow the Heavens

31. Lift Up My Heart

32. Assisted in Preaching

33. Rejoicing Soul

34. Perfect in Holiness

35. A Sweet, Melting Season

Section Seven: God Has Inclined Their Hearts to Hear

36. Better than Life

37. A Sweet Season

38. Obtaining Help from God

39. Sweet and Solemn Frame

40. Laboring for God

41. Comfortable Frame of Soul

42. Liberty in Prayer

43. Prayer Turned to Praise

44. Heartless Frame of Mind

Section Eight: That God Might Be Glorified

45. Extreme Weakness

46. Freedom in Devotion

47. Begging Deliverance

48. Exceeding Precious

49. Centered in God

50. The Burden of All My Cry

51. Sweetly Set on God


Series Description

Profiles in Reformed Spirituality is a series of books designed to introduce the spirituality and piety of the Reformed tradition by presenting descriptions of the lives of particular Christians with selected passages from their works. This combination of biographical sketch and collected portions from primary sources gives a taste of the treated person’s contribution to our spiritual heritage and some direction as to how the reader can find further edification through works of those people treated in this series. Under the guidance of series editors Joel R. Beeke and Michael A. G. Haykin, Profiles in Reformed Spirituality promises to provide a valuable primer to our rich Reformed heritage.



Dustin W. Benge is the editor for Expositor Magazine and the director of operations for OnePassion Ministries. He is the editor of Lifting Up Our Hearts: 150 Prayers of John Calvin and A Journey Toward Heaven: Daily Devotions from the Sermons of Jonathan Edwards. He and his wife, Molli, live in Mobile, Alabama.



“In every era of church history, God raises up those He uses for His glory and the advance of the gospel. David Brainerd is one of those men greatly used by God in his generation and beyond. Not well known during his short life, Brainerd has emerged from the shadows for future generations in Jonathan Edwards’s biographical account of his life. This book, compiled by Dustin Benge, gives us all access to an otherwise daunting work. As you read you will learn something of the deep spirituality of Brainerd and what he can teach us today about how to follow Christ on the path of holiness.” — Steven J. Lawson, President, OnePassion Ministries, Dallas 

“One man influenced Jonathan Edwards, John and Charles Wesley, and William Carey, as well as countless others. That man was David Brainerd. He was a missionary. He famously got kicked out of Yale for telling one of his professors a chair has more of the Spirit of God than the professor did. And he never made it to his thirtieth birthday. What drew these stalwarts to Brainerd? That’s easy—his piety. Beware of this book and the piety of David Brainerd. It is contagious.”  — Stephen J. Nichols, President of Reformation Bible College and Chief Academic Officer of Ligonier Ministries