in Family & Parenting

Jonathan Edwards & Family Time

A Great Man Who Should Me Imitated In The Home

Jonathan Edwards was one of those great men of God who not only labored intensely for the care of people’s souls, but also had a home life that was exemplary.

“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. ” (Heb 13:7)

Jonathan Edwards is certainly a man who’s faith we should imitate. I’ve included here, a section from memoirs of Jonathan Edwards that talks about his home life. Download the PDF in the endnotes section at the bottom of the article.

“In his family, he practised that conscientious exactness, which was conspicuous in all his ways. He maintained a great esteem and regard for his amiable and excellent [wife]. Much of the tender and affectionate was expressed in his conversation with her, and in all his conduct towards her. He was often visited by her in his study, and conversed freely with her on matters of religion; and he used commonly to pray with her in his study, at least once a day, unless something extraordinary prevented. The season for this, commonly, was in the evening, after prayers in the family, just before going to bed. As he rose very early himself, he was wont to have his family up betimes in the morning; after which, before they entered on the business of the day, he attended on family prayers; when a chapter in the Bible was read, commonly by candle-light in the winter; upon which he asked his children questions, according to their age and capacity; and took occasion to explain some passages in it, or enforce any duty recommended, as he thought most proper.

He was careful and thorough in the government of his children; and, as a consequence of this, they reverenced, esteemed, and loved him. He took the utmost care to begin his government of them, when they were very young. When they first discovered any degree of self-will and stubbornness, he would attend to them, until he had thoroughly subdued them, and brought them to submit. Such prudent discipline, exercised with the greatest calmness, being repeated once or twice, was generally sufficient for that child; and effectually established his parental authority, and produced a cheerful obedience ever after.

“He kept a watchful eye over his children, that he might admonish them of the first wrong step, and direct them in the right way. He took opportunities to converse with them singly and closely, about the concerns of their souls, and to give them warnings, exhortations, and directions, as he saw them severally need.” The salvation of his children was his chief and constant desire, and aim, and effort concerning them. In the evening, after tea, he customarily sat in the parlour, with his family, for an hour, unbending from the severity of study, entering freely into the feelings and concerns of his children, and relaxing into cheerful and animated conversation, accompanied frequently with sprightly remarks, and sallies of wit and humour. But, before retiring to his study, he usually gave the conversation, by degrees, a more serious turn, addressing his children, with great tenderness and earnestness, on the subject of their salvation; when the thought that they were still strangers to religion would often affect him so powerfully, as to oblige him to withdraw, in order to conceal his emotions.—“He took much pains to instruct his children in the principles and duties of religion, in which he made use of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism: not merely by taking care that they learned it by heart, but by leading them into an understanding of the doctrines therein taught, by asking them questions on each answer, and explaining it to them. His usual time to attend to this was on the evening before the sabbath. And, as he believed that the sabbath, or holy time, began at sunset, on the evening preceding the first day of the week, he ordered his family to finish all their secular business by that time, or before; when all were called together, a psalm was sung, and prayer offered, as an introduction to the sanctification of the sabbath. This can and exactness effectually prevented that intruding on holy time, by attending to secular business, which is too common even in families where the evening before the sabbath is professedly observed.

“He was utterly opposed to every thing like unseasonable hours, on the part of young people, in their visiting and amusements; which he regarded as a dangerous step towards corrupting them, and bringing them to ruin. And he thought the excuse offered by many parents, for tolerating this practice in their children,—that it is the custom, and that the children of other people are allowed thus to practise, and therefore it is difficult, and even impossible, to restrain theirs,—was insufficient and frivolous, and manifested a great degree of stupidity, on the supposition that the practice was hurtful and pernicious to their souls. And when his children grew up, he found no difficulty in restraining them from this improper and mischievous practice; but they cheerfully complied with the will of their parents. He allowed none of his children to be absent from home after nine o’clock at night, when they went abroad to see their friends and companions; neither were they allowed to sit up much after that time, in his own house, when any of their friends came to visit them. If any gentleman desired to address either of his daughters, after the requisite introduction and preliminaries, he was allowed all proper opportunities of becoming thoroughly acquainted with the manners and disposition of the young lady, but must not intrude on the customary hours of rest and sleep, nor on the religion and order of the family.”1

Lord, thank you for men like Jonathan Edwards, who kept the important things as a priority in their life. I pray that many men would imitate the faith of men such as him for the benefit of their souls, and the souls of those that are under their care. I pray that you would raise up a generation of children that deeply love and know you. In Jesus name, Amen.


Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 1, ccxxviii (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2008). Download PDF

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  1. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    With all the problems facing our youth today, we definitely need men like Jonathan Edwards to set the example on what priorities need to practiced in our homes. Some children have such a bad home life it is almost like they never even had a fair chance from the beginning.  Consider a child who’s parents are both addicts and live where they are only surrounded with the same kind of people, these children would have to almost alienate themselves from their family, and more than likely friends, in order to have any change in their life. It would be so hard for a 12 year old, with their limited mental reasoning abilities and their dependency upon their parents, to be very successful. Gosh, how much strength would be needed from God! Very inspiring article, raises the bar quite a bit!

  2. Rob says:

    I’ve been reading a book titled “Good Christians, Good Husbands” that looks at the marriages of Wesley, Whitefield and Edwards. By far, Edwards appears to have the best balance of both ministry and home-life. There’s a small blurb in there about Edwards wife and Jenn said, “I wish I was like her”. I said, “me too”. It is good to desire to imitate those godly men who have lived an example of a faithful life.

    Some might say. All you have to look at is Jesus. Well, there is truth to that; but let’s not forget that God also predestined that men such as Jonathan Edwards would live as an example to others. Jesus didn’t have a family or home-life like we do; he was a man without a home. Furthermore, it’s so common to think, “Jesus was a perfect man, I can’t do what he did!” So it is very helpful to look at the details of the daily living of men who are imperfect, human and ordinary in one-sense, yet extraordinary in another sense. Men such as Jonathan Edwards show us that even people like you and I can live a zealous passionate life for God.

  3. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    A to tha men brothra!





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