Have you read about Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)? He was known as one of the greatest preachers and theologians in American history and was involved in the revival known as the Great Awakening. He married Sarah Edwards when she was 17 years and they had 11 children. Not only did this couple influence the nation through their lives and Jonathan’s preaching, but they influenced the nation through their children and continuing descendants.
Let’s peek at the family of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards. In 1900, A. Winship tracked down 1400 descendants of this family. By 1900 this godly marriage had produced . . .
13 college presidents
100 lawyers and a dean of an outstanding law school
60 doctors and a dean of a medical school
80 holders of public office including:
3 United States Senators
3 Mayors of large cities
3 State governors
Third Vice President of the United States, Aaron Burr
Controller of the United States Treasury.
Members of the family wrote 135 books and edited 18 journals and periodicals.
They entered the ministry in platoons and sent 100 missionaries overseas as well as stocking many mission boards with lay trustees. They directed banks, insurance companies, owned coalmines, iron plants and vast oil interests.
Winship states: “There is scarcely any great American industry that has not had one of this family among its chief promoters.”
Because of the responsibilities of Jonathan Edwards' ministry, Winship goes on to say: “Much of the capacity and talent, intensity and character of the Edwards family is due to Mrs. Sarah Edwards.” The influence of one godly mother has continued down through the generations to affect the destiny of the world.
In his last sermon Jonathan preached: “Every Christian family ought to be as it were a little church, consecrated to Christ, and wholly influenced and governed by his rules. And family education and order are some of the chief means of grace. If these fail, all other means are likely to prove in effectual. If these are duly maintained, all the means of grace will be likely to prosper and be successful . . . Take heed that it not be with any of you as it was with Eli of old, who reproved his children, but restrained them not; and that, by this means, you do not bring the like curse on your families as he did on his.”
Elisabeth Dodds writes of Sarah: “Her system of discipline was begun 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 . . . wisely reflecting that until a child will obey his parents he can never be brought to obey God.
She also writes: “Their children were eleven different people, proving that Sarah’s discipline did not squash their personalities — perhaps because an important aspect of their disciplined life was that, as Samuel Hopkins wrote, “for [her children] she constantly and earnestly prayed and bore them on her heart before God . . . and that even before they were born.”
In contrast to the Edwards family, 1200 of the Jukes family were tracked down. They originated with one immigrant who settled in upstate New York in 1720 and produced a tribe of “idleness, ignorance, and vulgarity.” Only 20 of the 1200 Jukes ever had any gainful employment and all the others were criminals or lived on state aid.
How are you influencing future generations?
Blessings from Nancy Campbell