[This is a short excerpt from a testimony of Sarah, the wife of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758). It demonstrates how the themes of God’s love, grace, and our union with Christ were precious to her as someone associated with the Great Awakening in New England.]
I felt a strong desire to be alone with God, to go to Him, without having any one to interrupt the silent and soft communion, which I earnestly desired between God and my own soul; and accordingly withdrew to my chamber. It should have been mentioned that, before I retired, while Mr. Reynolds was praying, these words, in Rom. 8:34. came into my mind,
” Who is he that condemneth; it is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” as well as the following words, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ,” etc.; which occasioned great sweetness and delight in my soul. But when I was alone, the words came to my mind with far greater power and sweetness; upon which I took the Bible, and read the words to the end of the chapter, when they were impressed on my heart with vastly greater power and sweetness still. They appeared to me with undoubted certainty as the words of God, and as words which God did pronounce concerning me. I had no more doubt of it, than I had of my being. I seemed as it were to hear the great God proclaiming thus to the world concerning me; ” Who shall lay any thing to thy charge,” etc.; and had it strongly impressed on me, how impossible it was for any thing in heaven or earth, in this world or the future, ever to separate me from the love of God which was in Christ Jesus.
I cannot find language to express, how certain this appeared; the everlasting mountains and hills were but shadows to it. My safety, and happiness, and eternal enjoyment of God’s immutable love, seemed as durable and unchangeable as God himself. Melted and overcome by the sweetness of this assurance, I fell into a great flow of tears, and could not forbear weeping aloud. It appeared certain to me that God was my Father, and Christ my Lord and Saviour, that He was mine and I His.
Under a delightful sense of the immediate presence and love of God, these words seemed to come over and over in my mind, ” My God, my all; my God, my all.” The presence of God was so near, and so real, that I seemed scarcely conscious of any thing else. God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, seemed as distinct persons, both manifesting their inconceivable loveliness, and mildness, and gentleness, and their great and immutable love to me. I seemed to be taken under the care and charge of my God and Saviour, in an inexpressibly endearing manner; and Christ appeared to me as a mighty Saviour, under the character of the Lion of the tribe of Judah, taking my heart, with all its corruptions, under his care, and putting it at his feet. In all things, which concerned me, I felt myself safe under the protection of the Father and the Saviour; who appeared with supreme kindness to keep a record of every thing that I did, and of every thing that was done to me, purely for my good.
The peace and happiness, which I hereupon felt, was altogether inexpressible. It seemed to be that which came from heaven; to be eternal and unchangeable. I seemed to be lifted above earth and hell, out of the reach of every thing here below, so that I could look on all the rage and enmity of men or devils, with a kind of holy indifference, and an undisturbed tranquillity. At the same time, I felt compassion and love for all mankind, and a deep abasement of soul, under a sense of my own unworthiness. I thought of the ministers who were in the house, and felt willing to undergo any labour and self-denial, if they would but come to the help of the Lord. I also felt myself more perfectly weaned from all things here below, than ever before. The whole world, with all its enjoyments, and all its troubles, seemed to be nothing. My God was my all, my only portion. No possible suffering appeared to be worth regarding; all persecutions and torments were a mere nothing. I seemed to dwell on high, and the place of defence to be the munition of rocks.
After some time, the two evils mentioned above, as those which I should have been least able to bear, came to my mind–the ill treatment of the town [opposition to pastor Edwards requiring a profession of faith for church membership], and the ill will of my husband [infrequent corrections about her manner of relating to parishoners]; but now I was carried exceedingly above even such things as these, and I could feel that, if I were exposed to them both, they would seem comparatively nothing. There was then a deep snow on the ground, and I could think of being driven from my home into the cold and snow, of being chased from the town with the utmost contempt and malice, and of being left to perish with the cold, as cast out by all the world, with perfect calmness and serenity. It appeared to me, that it would not move me, or in the least disturb the inexpressible happiness and peace of my soul. My mind seemed as much above all such things, as the sun is above the earth.
[May we follow her example of wholehearted surrender and abiding trust in God’s presence and grace.]
from THE WORKS OF JONATHAN EDWARDS WITH A MEMOIR BY SERENO E. DWIGHT. CHAPTER XI.
Here are some of Jonathan Edwards’ comments on his wife’s experience: “Now if such things are enthusiasm, and the offspring of a distempered brain; let my brain be possessed evermore of that happy distemper! If this be distraction; I pray God that the world of mankind may all be seized with this benign, meek, beneficent, beatific, glorious distraction! What notion have they of true religion, who reject what has here been described? What shall we find to correspond with these expressions of Scripture, The peace of God, that passeth all understanding: Rejoicing with joy unspeakable, and full of glory: Godís shining into our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ: With open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of God, and being changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord: Being called out of darkness into marvellous light: and having the day-star arise in our hearts? What, let me ask, if these things that have been mentioned do not correspond with these expressions; what else can we find that does correspond with them?”
Jonathan Edwards – (1703-1758), American puritan theologian and philosopher. In 1727 he was ordained minister at Northampton …In the same year, he married Sarah Pierpont, then age seventeen, daughter of James Pierpont (a founder of Yale, originally called the Collegiate School). In total, Jonathan and Sarah had eleven children.