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and dignitaries, Judson would not have wanted even this obscure and hidden tribute. However, this selflessness did not always characterize Judson. During his formative years, he sought fame and the praise of men. How was this ambition overthrown and redirected?



he story of Adoniram Judson’s formative years is the story of the work of the Spirit of God on a man’s life by the sharp instrument of the Word of God. The eldest son of a Congregationalist pastor, Judson was born August 9, 1788, in Malden, Massachusetts. In his early years, he showed remarkable intellectual ability, learning to read by the age of three. The Judson family relocated to Wenham in January, 1793, where they remained until Adoniram was 11. From science experiments to advanced arithmetic to nautical navigation, Judson excelled, and his ambition drove him to make a significant impression on many outside his own family.

himself to excel through academic rivalries. After graduating at age 19, Judson returned home to Plymouth to operate a private academy. However, his newfound philosophy did not fit with the Congregationalist commitments of his family. In August, 1808, Judson closed his academy, and much like the Prodigal Son, left town on an undisciplined tour of the surrounding states. His father provided him with a horse, and after spending time with an uncle in Connecticut, Judson went to New York, traveling down the Hudson River on a steamer. Embracing the anonymity of the journey, he referred to himself as Mr. Johnson, and upon arrival in New York, he sought to become a playwright. Following his New York experience, Judson returned to his uncle’s house to retrieve his horse before heading west in search of further adventure.


At the age of 14, after his family’s move to Plymouth, Judson contracted a debilitating illness that effectively suspended his life for an entire year. During that time, he realized that his well conceived plans for personal greatness as an orator, poet, or statesman were in danger of failing. And he began to think that the attainment of all The next evening, Judson found lodging at a small inn. his worldly goals might not satisfy him in the end. The caretaker explained that he had to place Judson in a room next to a young man who was very ill and possibly After recovering from the illness, Judson enrolled at dying. Sounds of visitors and the groans of the ill man what is now Brown University in August 1804. At the continued unabated and led to a sleepless night. Howtime the 16 year old Judson went to Brown, skeptical ever, the prospect that a man in an adjacent room might philosophy was not only readily available, but was seen as intellectually superior and sought by those with “am- die disturbed the prodigal wanderer more than the bitious minds.” Judson befriended Jacob Eames. Eames, noise. Was Judson ready to die? His philosophy could not calm his fears or answer his questions. Embarrassed a year older, embodied the attributes to which Judson over his weak moment, he considered how Jacob Eames aspired, including the rejection of Christianity in favor of deism. The two became close friends and encouraged surely would chide him in that hour. Yet, the thoughts one another in their pursuit of greatness. The friendship of his and the neighboring man’s eternal state would not leave him. stoked Judson’s ego and consequently, his rejection of Christianity. Judson met every challenge his worldly amWhen the morning arrived, Judson dismissed his nightbition set for him at Brown. Fearful of a health-related mares with the light of dawn and asked the caretaker setback, he never took a break from his studies, pushing about the ill man. Judson’s future son and biographer | 37

Make Disciples of All Nations  

March 2012 issue of Credo Magazine. "Make Disciples of All Nations."

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