(A letter from Jonathan Edwards, to his daughter, Mary)

My dear child,
You may well think it is natural for a parent to be concerned for a child at so great a distance away, so far out of view, and so far out of the reach of communication; where, if you should be stricken with any dangerous sickness, which should issue in death–you might probably be in your grave before we would hear of your danger. But yet, my greatest concern is not for your health, or temporal welfare–but for the good of your soul.

Though you are at so great a distance from us–yet God is everywhere. You are much out of the reach of our care–but you are in His hands every moment! We have not the comfort of seeing you–but He sees you! His eye is always upon you. And if you may but live sensibly near to God, and have His gracious presence, it is no great matter if you are far distant from us. I had rather you should remain hundreds of miles distant from us–and have God near to you–than to have you always with us, and live at a distance from God.

And if the next news we would hear of you, would be of your death, though that would be very sad; yet, if at the same time we had the best grounds to hope, that you had died in the Lord–how much more comfortable would this be to us–than if you died without the grace and favor of God!

It is comfortable to have the presence of earthly friends, especially in sickness, and on a death-bed; but the great thing is to have God as our friend, and to be united to Christ, who can never die–and from whom our own death cannot separate us.

My desire and daily prayer is, that you may meet with God where you are, and have much of His divine influences on your heart, wherever you may be; and that, in God’s due time, you may be returned to us again, in prosperous circumstances in your soul.

I hope that you will maintain a strict and constant watch over yourself, against all temptations, that you do not forsake or forget God; and particularly, that you do not grow slack in secret piety. Retire often from this vain world, from all its bubbles and empty shadows, and vain amusements; and converse with God alone. Seek for that Divine grace and comfort–the least drop of which is worth more than all the riches, gaiety, pleasures, and entertainments of the whole world!

May you be sensible of your dependence on the care and kindness of God–and of the vanity of all human helps. May you seek His face, to trust in Him, and walk closely with Him. Commending you to the care and special favor of our heavenly Father,

Your very affectionate father,
Jonathan Edwards, July 26, 1749
Northampton, Massachusetts

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From Grace Gems

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