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April-May 2022

Everyday Discipleship


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PRIMARY SOURCE: Blessed Fruit From Wicked Roots


“Be not overcome of evil but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

Three months into her marriage to Richard Edwards, Elizabeth Tuthill announced she was pregnant by another man. She continued her infidelities and once threatened to cut Richard’s throat while he slept. Horrible to say, her ravings seemed credible. One of her sisters murdered her own child, and a brother axed another sister to death. Richard obtained a divorce, but not before the couple had six children.

What good could possibly come from such a union? Well, their firstborn graduated from Harvard and pastored a single church for 64 years. He and his wife had 11 children—ten girls and a son, Jonathan. The couple determined to overcome a sordid past and exemplify virtue in their home.
As a teen, young Jonathan penned 70 resolutions. Here’s a sampling:

  • “Resolved, That I will do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of God, and my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my duration.”

  • “Resolved, Never to speak evil of any one, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.”

  • “I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, That I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age.”

In 1726, Jonathan became assistant pastor to his grandfather in Northampton, Massachusetts. The next year he married Sarah Pierpont, of whom he had written three years earlier: “They say there is a young lady in [New Haven] who is loved of that Great Being, who made and rules the world, ...and you could not persuade her to do any thing wrong or sinful, if you would give her all the world.”

In 1729, Stoddard died, and Jonathan took his place as pastor of the church for 21 years. In one sermon he warned: “Man, when he first comes into the world, is like a young twig, easily bent; but the longer you suffer [i.e., allow] yourself to grow at random, the more you will be like an inflexible tree.” Such word pictures characterized his preaching. Describing Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane, he said: “Those great drops of blood that fell down to the ground were a manifestation of an ocean of love in Christ’s heart.”

Edwards’s preaching often left his congregation repenting and rejoicing. In 1750, however, he rejected a church tradition, and his people fired him. After serving a stint as missionary to Native Americans, he accepted the presidency of Princeton University. Before his death at age 54 of an inoculation gone bad, Edwards wrote weighty volumes still found in many ministerial libraries today.

Who could have guessed such wicked roots would produce such blessed fruit?


About the Columnist: Paul V. Harrison has pastored Madison FWB Church in Madison, Alabama since 2015. Previously, he pastored Cross Timbers FWB church in Nashville, Tennessee, for 22 years. He was an adjunct professor at Welch College for 17 years, teaching church history and Greek. Paul is the creator of Classic Sermon Index, a subscription-based online index of over 66,000 sermons, with clients including Harvard, Baylor, and Vanderbilt, among others:


©2022 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists