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 that she hardly cares for any thing, 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 affection. 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 any thing 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 with her.
(Jonathan Edwards, “His Memoirs,” The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Banner of Truth, Vol. 1, xxxix-xl, 1723.)
Yes, she was only 13 years old! They married 4 years later. This love note is truly a God-centered love meditation. Clearly Jonathan’s attraction to Sarah had much to do with Christ in her – he found her relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, very attractive. Sarah, by being “ravished” with the love of God, could not help but also point Jonathan to the greatness of God. To truly and most deeply love is not to buy into the materialistic idol of our culture by showering people with expensive material gifts (although gift giving can express love!). Rather, the most deeply loving thing we can to for people is point them to the great fountain of all love by our words and lives, and help them find Him most beautiful, satisfying, and lovely.
Mrs. Sarah Edwards continued to find God most lovely and learned the truth of God’s absolute sovereignty over all things for the good and joy of His people. After 31 years of marriage and 11 children, Jonathan Edwards died in a terrible medical accident – from a small pox inoculation gone bad. Twelve days after her husband’s premature death, she wrote this letter to comfort her daughter:
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, “His Memoirs,” The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Banner of Truth, Vol. 1, clxxix, 1758.)
In such a horrible tragedy, would God have your heart? Would you be given to God and love being there in the midst of such sorrow? Oh that God would give us the grace to see His utter loveliness and cherish Him as Sarah Edwards did regardless of our circumstances. When we know, love, and desire God as we should, no matter what trials and tribulations we face, we can say with David, “The LORD is my Shepherd; I lack nothing” (Psalm 23:1). We lack nothing because Jesus Christ is our all in all and satisfies our every longing. And like John Bunyan’s wife, may we truly love others by helping them to do the same:
“She brought him [John Bunyan] a tender love, but it only awakened his thirst for higher joys. The devotion she poured into his heart carved out the ‘larger capacities’ that God alone can fill.”
(Henri Talon, John Bunyan, The Man and His Works (London: Rockliff Publishing Corp., 1951), 45.)
May Christ be your chief desire this Valentine’s Day and every day!