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Quotes by Edna Gerstner


[Jonathan Edwards] seemed to manage very well by what he said rather than how he said it. There was always the memory of Enfield. In that village, in his calm way he had preached a sermon on “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” The content of the message had so grabbed hold of his congregation that people held on in terror to the pews lest they slip into the great abyss of hell which they saw yawning at their feet.


Jonathan Edwards was a zealous pastor who never forgot for a moment that his own family was a part of that flock, and that he had been appointed to be a shepherd to these sheep also, those within his own fold. He was ever concerned for the salvation of the souls of men, all men, not overlooking those closest to him. He never for one moment assumed that his own children were of the elect. George Perry Norris describes him as a “tender brooding parent.”


[In the Edwards family] there was never an attempt to shield them from depressing experiences, death or taxes. This was an evil world. There was “vinegar in life.” There were “frowns from heaven.” The children were aware of it. And each one, when a shadow fell across his path, had been taught first of all to anxiously examine himself to discover if this were the chastening rod of God. No circumstance was considered apart from the hand of the Almighty. If, after careful prayerful analysis, he felt his course was right, he continued serene in his position in the midst of conflict.


[Sarah Edwards in writing to her daughter Esther at the death of her husband, Jonathan, said], “My Very Dear Child, What shall I say? A holy and good God has covered us with a dark cloud. O that we may kiss the rod, and lay our hands on our mouths! The Lord has done it. He has made me adore his goodness, that we had him so long. But my God lives; and he has my heart. O what a legacy my husband, and your father, has left us! We are all given to God; and there I am, and love to be. Your ever affectionate mother, Sarah Edwards.”


[Sarah Edwards] did not permit this soul communion to interfere with her daily duties and tasks, but somewhere in her busy schedule there was always time for a quiet walk with God. The children early learned to respect their father’s study hours, but they also recognized these times which were necessary for their mother, these moments when she needed to be alone to lose herself in God. They sensed their mother was Martha; but also she was Mary who sat at the feet of her Lord.


When all were in their places Father said grace and, excusing himself, left the family to retire to his study. He frequently spent thirteen hours a day studying. He managed this amazing amount of time by husbanding every hour of the day. He usually arose at four in the morning, indulging himself in the later rising time of five in the winter. In this way he was far along in his studies while the household slept. He preferred to eat alone, usually certain foods which he had by experimentation discovered kept his mind and body most sprightly. This morning he did not eat the rich menu which Venus set before the rest of the household, the home-cured bacon and the delicious hot breads. But at the end of the meal, he rejoined his family for morning devotions.


[Jonathan Edwards wrote of Sarah], “They say there is a young lady in (New Haven) who is loved of that Great Being, who made and rules the world, and that there are certain seasons in which this Great Being, in some way or other invisible, comes to her and fills her mind with exceeding sweet delight; and she hardly cares for anything, except to meditate on him… she has a strange sweetness in her mind, and singular purity in their affection… you could not persuade her to do anything wrong or sinful… She is of a wonderful sweetness, calmness and universal benevolence of mind…. She will sometimes go about from place to place, singing sweetly; and seems to be always full of joy and pleasure; and no one knows for what. She loves to be alone, walking in the fields and groves, and seems to have some one invisible always conversing with her.”


[Esther Edwards Burr at the death of her husband Aaron said], “Had not God supported me by these two considerations: first, by showing the right he has to his own creatures, to dispose of them when and in what manner he pleases; and secondly, by enabling me to follow him beyond the grave, into the eternal world, and there to view him in unspeakable glory and happiness, freed from all sin and sorrow; I should, long before this, have been sunk among the dead, and been covered with the clods of the valley- God has side ends in all that he doth. This thing did not come upon me by chance; and I rejoice that I am in the hands of such a God.”