On Sunday morning, we are making our way through one of the most significant passages in the New Testament on the family and on marriage in particular. There is much to be gleaned from these words in Ephesians 5. And there is also much to be learned from the godly example of mature believers who have lived demonstrated the love of Christ in their marriages.
They say there is a young lady in [New Haven] who is beloved of that Great Being, who made and rules the world, and that there are certain seasons in which this Great Being, in some way other or invisible, comes to her and fills her mind with exceeding sweet delight, and that she hardly cares for anything, except to meditate on him – that she expects after a while to be received up where he is, to be raised up out of the world and caught up into heaven; being assured that he loves her too well to let her remain at a distance from him always. There she is to dwell with him, and to be ravished with his love and delight forever. Therefore, if you present all the world before her, with the richest of its treasures, she disregards it and cares not for it, and is unmindful of any pain or affliction. She has a strange sweetness in her mind, and singular purity in her affections; is most just and conscientious in all her conduct; and you could not persuade her to do anything wrong or sinful, if you would give her all the world, lest she should offend this Great Being. She is of a wonderful sweetness, calmness and universal benevolence of mind; especially after this Great God has manifested himself to her 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.
Edwards’ commitment to her is evidenced in later comments about the uniqueness of the marriage union:
…the conjugal relation leads the persons united therein to the most intimate acquaintance and conversation with each other.…The husband chose his wife to be close to him above all others.…They share each other’s joys and sorrows.…They do all they can to help one another and seek the good and comfort of the other.…They rejoice in each other. [Good Christians, Good Husbands?, p. 117]
What is further significant about his love for his wife and family is its enduring nature. Shortly before his death, he called his daughter to him to pen a letter to his wife (he had taken a new position as the President of Princeton and the family had not yet relocated):
Dear Lucy, It seems to me to be the will of God, that I must shortly leave you; therefore give my kindest love to my dear wife, and tell her, that the uncommon union, which has so long subsisted between us, has been of such a nature, as I trust is spiritual, and therefore will continue forever: and I hope she will be supported under so great a trial, and submit cheerfully to the will of God. And as to my children, you are now like to be left fatherless; which I hope will be an inducement to you all, to seek a father who will never fail you.
That he influenced his wife and that she grew spiritually under his leadership is evidenced by the remarkable letter Sarah wrote to her daughter after receiving news of her husband’s death:
O my very Dear Child,
What shall I say. A holy and good God has covered us with a dark cloud. O that we may all 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.
As one writer has noted, “Truly, his was a legacy that is worthy of our admiration.” And of our emulation.