Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Labor while you live

I love old letters. And this one was particularly meaningful today. It was written by a father to his daughter Esther on March 28, 1753:
Dear child,

We are glad to hear that you are in any respect better, but concerned at your remaining great weakness...

I would not have you think that any strange thing has happened to you in this affliction: 'tis according to the course of things in this world, that after the world's smiles, some great affliction soon comes.
God has now given you early and seasonable warning, not at all to depend on worldly prosperity. Therefore I would advise, that if it pleases God to restore you, to let upon no happiness here.
Labor while you live, to serve God and do what good you can, and endeavor to improve every dispensation to God's glory and your own spiritual good, and be content to do and bear all that God calls you to in this wilderness, and never expect to find this world anything better than a wilderness.
Lay your account to travel through it in weariness, painfulness and trouble, and wait for your rest and your prosperity till hereafter, where they that die in the Lord rest from their labors, and enter into the joy of their Lord.

These words, they strengthened me. And then, he made me smile.
As to means for your health, we have procured one rattlesnake, which is all we could get. It is a medicine that has been very serviceable to you heretofore, and I would have you try it still. If your stomach is very weak and will bear but little, you must take it in smaller quantities. We have sent you some ginseng...

Commending you to God, before whom we daily remember you in our prayers, I am

Your affectionate father,
Jonathan Edwards.

I have loved and used my Jonathan Edwards mug for ten years. I am happy to finally read the letter in its entirety. And ginseng was apparently available in New England in the eighteenth century. So weird.

I raise my mug to you, dear friend.
Let us labor while we live.