Monday, October 29, 2007

Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God - Chapter 1 - Sarah Edwards

Last week we discussed Chapter 1: Sarah Edwards, Faithful in the Mundane

I was amazed at how young they were and how much they had achieved at such an early age. Page 16 'In 1723 at age nineteen, Jonathan had already graduated from Yale and had been a pastor in New York for a year.’ They met in 1723 when Sarah was 13 (pg 17), by 1725 Sarah was 15 when they were engaged (pg 18), and they were married in 1727 (pg 18), she was 17 years old.

A Faithful Wife: Sarah reminded us very much of Luther’s Katie. Like Katie, she managed the whole household, whilst allowing her husband to fucus on his duties and studies. Jonathan seemed similar to Luther ‘I have had very affecting views of hole mind in a kind of loud weeping… so that I have often been forced to shut myself up.’ Page 21. But she adapted to his needs and supported him in such a way that he could do all he needed without any encumbrance.

Like the Proverbs 31 woman ‘she spared no pains in conforming to his inclination and rendering everything in the family agreeable and pleasant.’ Page 21, as Samuel Hopkins observed… 'Edwards found at home one who was in every sense a help mate for him, one who made their common dwelling the abode of order and neatness, or peace and comfort, of harmony and love, to all its inmates, and of kindness and hospitality to the friend the visitant and the stranger.' Page 26.

Do we support and help our husbands as faithfully?

The Mother: Sarah was careful in the training of her children, Samel Hopkins observed ‘She had an excellent way of governing her children; she knew how to make them regard and obey her cheerfully, without loud angry words, much less heavy blows… If any correction was necessary, she did not administer it in a passion, and when she had occasion to reprove and rebuke she would do it in a few words, without warmth [that is vehemence] and noise…Her system of discipline was begun at a very early age and it was her rule to resist the first, as well as every subsequent exhibition of temper or disobedience in the child… wisely reflecting that until a child will obey his parents he can never be brought to obey God.’ Page 24.

In today’s politically correct world that tells us that physical chastisement and careful discipline will squash our children’s personality and damage them emotionally it was encouraging to read that ‘ Their Children were eleven different people, proving that her discipline did not squash their personalities.’ Page 24

Sarah prayed for her children and was concerned for their spiritual well being… ‘for her children she constantly and earnestly prayed and bore them on her heart before God… and that even before they were born’. Page 24. She also endevoured to be a good example and role model to her children ‘she made it her rule to speak well of all, so far she could with truth and justice to herself and others.' Page 26.
Are we careful of the role model we set for our children?

We also saw that they spoke to their children about very serious matters that is very uncommon today. ‘When Jonathan wrote to his children, he often reminded them not morbidly, but almost as a matter of fact – how close death might be. For Jonathan, the reality of death led automatically to the need for eternal life. He wrote to their ten year old Jonathan Jr. about the death of a playmate. “This is a loud call of god to you to prepare for death…Never give yourself any rest unless you have good evidence that you are converted and become a new creature” ’. Page 33. The ever-present sense of death and eternity is foreign to us today, and yet, just as real… we may not face the threats they did, but we could still be hit by a car tomorrow.

It is amazing to think of the far reaching effects of Sarah’s faithfulness down throw the generations. As we see on page 22 the achievements of her descendants.

Sarah’s Experience: Having experienced the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements, reading about Sarah’s experience was a little uncomfortable, but I felt that Noels comments about it were insightful, and I think we can err on both sides, we can say that it was merely a mental breakdown, or that it was “enthusiasm” to use Edwards own expression. But the way it changed Sarah seems to indicate a true spiritual encounter, rather than the superficial experience often seen in the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement, which in many cases does not effect much change in the person. Page 31 ‘Sarah’s life was different after these weeks – different in the ways you would expect after God has specially visited someone. Jesus said “you will recognise them by their fruits”.’ Mat 7:46.’

I hope you all enjoyed this chapter... I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it.

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