Sarah Pierrepont Edwards

by adustyframe ~ October 11th, 2007


Here are my notes on Sarah Edwards married to Jonathan Edwards.

In 1723, Jonathan Edwards was 20 when he met 13 year old Sarah Pierrepont.

He was:                                     She was:

*Shy                                             *Vibrant

*Moody                                       *Outgoing

*Unsocial                                    *Conversationalist

*Gawky                                      *Graceful

She descended from a long line of ministers and was reared in a minister’s home.

Sarah had many suitors but Johnathon won her hand.

After Jonathan fell in love with Sarah, he had trouble concentrating on his studies. They were wed on July 28, 1727 when she was 17. This of course is very young, however, we must consider that this was Colonial times and the life span was shorter.

Sarah and Jonathan had 11 children–8 boys & 3 girls– and were married for 31 years.

She paid her husband deference and felt it was her duty to keep her home pleasant so her husband could devote himself to the study of God’s Word. His studies and prayer often took up to 13 hours a day.

Do we wonder why we don’t display the power of God in our lives as some of the great men and women who have gone before? I think that we shouldn’t wonder so much! Their recognition of the importance of time spent in God’s Word and in prayer is humbling. Do you think we modern women would complain about our husbands spending so much time ministering and studying?

Their home was a happy delightful place and this was testified to by many. The famous evangelist George Whitfield visited their home and wrote,

Felt great satisfaction in being at the house of Mr. Edwards. A sweeter couple I have not yet seen. Their children were not dressed in silks and satins, but plain, as become the children of those who, in all things, ought to be examples of Christian simplicity. Mrs. Edwards is adorned with a meek and quiet spirit; she talked solidly of the things of God, and seemed to be such a helpmeet of her husband, that she caused me to renew those prayers, which, for some months, I have put to God, that He would be pleased to send me a daughter of Abraham to be my wife.”

In the evenings Jonathan and Sarah would ride horses or take walks and he would share all he had learned in his studies that day. He respected her opinion and preferred to be with her as much as possible. At night, he took time to play with the children and have a spiritual time as well. Sarah reared her children with the philosophy that if they did not obey her, they would not obey God.

Sarah was an excellent manager of the home. Jonathan did not like to waste time. He’d say, “Isn’t it time to bring they hay in?” She’d say, “It’s been in for 2 weeks”

(That tickles my funny bone tonight.)

The year they were married, Jonathon was appointed co-pastor with his grandfather in Northampton, Massachusetts. When he died in 1729, Jonathan became the pastor.

Their home had a lot of visitors to host. Many were young preachers including David Brainerd who was engaged to their daughter. He died of tuberculosis in their home in 1747. Others were parishioners with spiritual needs.

In 1734, there was a great revival in their church and town. This came after much prayer and fasting on Jonathan’s part. Abruptly the revival stopped and people turned against the Edwards. He was discouraged and became ill while Sarah suffered a nervous breakdown.

George Whitefield preached in their church and revival began again. The Edwards resumed ministry.

In 1750, he was fired from the pastorate over a dispute about the Lord’s Supper. His grandfather felt that the Lord’s Supper could convert people and offered it to unbelievers. Edwards believed it was only for believers.

Incredibly, even after being removed from the pastorate and left without income, Jonathan Edwards still filled their pulpit until they found a new pastor.

Sarah and the girls sold their handwork at the market in order to make a living. Her youngest child at this time was less than 1 year old. Talk about a hardship!

They moved to a small frontier church where conditions were crude. The Edwards here happy here though and Jonathan finally had more time to study and write. Their health was also much improved.

In January 1758, he was persuaded to take the presidency of The College of New Jersey (later Princeton). His son in law had been the president but had died. Jonathan died 3 months later from a smallpox vaccination. His widowed daughter who cared for him in his illness died a few days later, leaving two children age 2 and 4.

His dying words were to his beloved wife.

‘”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.”

Sarah had been packing up their home to move to the college. She still had 6 children at home, the youngest 8 years old. She was devastated and died 6 months later. She left 6 orphaned children and her 2 orphaned grandchildren. They had nothing monetarily, but what a rich spiritual heritage God gave them.

I have heard this many times about their descendants and find it fascinating. They truly must have done something right in the child rearing department wouldn’t you say?

Sarah’s discipline was written about like this:

“Her system of discipline began 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, however young, until its will was brought
into submission to the will of the parents.”

This is the testimony of one who knew of her home life well:

“She had an excellent way of governing her children; she knew how to
make them regard and obey her cheerfully. She seldom punished them, and in
speaking to them used gentle and pleasant words. When she had occasion
to reprove or rebuke, she would do it in a few words, without warmth and
noise, and with all calmness and gentleness of mind. In her directions
and reproofs of matters of importance, she would address herself to the
reason of her children, that they might not only know her inclination
and will, but at the same time be convinced of the reasonableness of it.
She had need to speak but once and she was obeyed; murmuring and
answering again were not known among them. In their manners they were
uncommonly respectful to their parents.When their parents came into
the room, they all rose instinctively from their seats and never resumed
them until their parents were seated; and when either parent was
speaking, no matter with whom they had been conversing, they were all
immediately silent.

“Quarreling and contention were in her family wholly unknown. She
carefully observed the first appearance of resentment and ill-will in
her young children towards any person whatever, and did not connive at
it, but was careful to show her displeasure, and suppress it to the
utmost; yet not by angry, wrathful words.

What a mother! I think I need to read much more about her and learn from this wise woman of God.

You can read from this study of the Edwards by A E Winship here.

In 1900, A. E. Winship studied what happened to 1,400 descendants of Jonathan and Sarah by the year 1900.

He found they included 13 college presidents, 65 professors, 100 lawyers and a dean of a law school, 30 judges, 66 physicians and a dean of a medical school, and 80 holders of public office, including three US Senators, mayors of three large cities, governors of three states, a Vice-President of the United States, and a controller of the United States Treasury.

They had written over 135 books and edited eighteen journals and periodicals. Many had entered the ministry. Over 100 were missionaries and others were on mission boards. Winship wrote:

“Many large banks, banking houses, and insurance companies have been directed by them. They have been owners or superintendents of large coal mines… of large iron plants and vast oil interests… and silver mines…. There is scarcely any great American industry that has not had one of this family among its chief promoters….”

I remember an assignment in literature class in Bible college. We had to read and discuss Jonathan’s sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”

I still remember some of the illustrations used in the sermon and you may want to read it sometime in order to learn more about this man of God. It is also an often referenced sermon. You may want to read it just to stretch your own brain a little.

(I don’t know anything about this site, just pointing you to the text of the sermon.)

Marriage to a Difficult Man: The Uncommon Union of Jonathan & Sarah Edwards


2 Thoughts Shared to Sarah Pierrepont Edwards

  1. The Covering~ for Single Parents » Blog Archive » Death Following Death

    […] recently wrote a post about Sarah Pierrepont Edwards which I found very intriguing. Lizzie wrote these words about Sarah after her husband passed […]

  2. LeftCoastOnlooker

    Amazing heritage – except for that Vice President — isn’t he the one who shot A. Hamilton?

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