The real Jonathan Edwards, the man, the person, was a tender husband, an effective and affectionate father, a human being quite unlike the image of him as the stern preacher of sermons about sin. His happy marriage to Sarah Pierrepont was more than a loving link between two people: it was Edwards’ link to life—to the practical; to warm fireplaces, good food, attractive surroundings; to devotion, to the dailyness of the Incarnation. What Edwards described as their “uncommon union” bonded them marvelously to one another and it also bonded them to the living God.

They met in 1723 in New Haven, Connecticut, when Edwards was twenty years old, a graduate student and tutor at Yale. Sarah was then thirteen years old, and she was the daughter of James Pierrepont, the mighty minister of the New Haven church. One of her great-grandfathers had been Thomas Hooker, and another had been the first mayor of New York City. Hers was an impeccable social background and Sarah’s burnished manners matched her breeding. When the gawky Edwards first met Sarah, he scared her. Unusually tall, in an era when men tended to be short of stature; abstemious in a society of jolly drinkers: intense and studious, Edwards made an awkward beau. Looking on as Sarah would shine in social situations, Edwards would be conscious of his own shortcomings, and would go home to admonish himself in his journal with such entries as “Have lately erred, in not allowing time enough for conversation.” When he went home to East Windsor, Connecticut, at the end of the school term, he was supposed to be studying for his M.A. degree. He had a great deal of studying to do, but the usually focused Edwards found that his mind was wandering. In the front page of a Greek grammar, ...

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