People should care about their personal spiritual development. Life without God is impossible as people should believe in something, as people should know that there is somebody who cares about them. People’s faith in God helps them to lead a normal life or to cope with problems that appear. There are a lot of people who do not think about God and their spiritual development every day, but nevertheless, they turn to God at least once during their life. Faith in God is in our minds, and some people try to understand its nature and to develop their faith, but others do not think about it at all. There are a lot of people who devoted their lives to God, to the development of their souls, and to the understanding of the essence of these feelings: Jonathan Edwards and Elizabeth Ashbridge are among them.
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“Some Account of the Fore-Part of the Life of Elizabeth Ashbridge,” written by her own hand many years ago, is one of the greatest autobiographies written in the XVII century, which dwells upon religious and gender roles in American cultural society. Leading a rather adventurous life, Elizabeth had the power to change and to devote her life to God. Having come to visit her Uncle, she went to the meeting, and after that, she concluded that “he was a messenger sent of God to me, and with fervent Cries Desired I might be Directed a right and now Laid aside all Prejudice and set my heart open to receive the truth in the Love of it” (Ashbridge p. 342).
Elizabeth Ashbridge did not have the desire to become a Quaker woman, and it may be said that she came to Quaker meetings because of curiosity. Listening to the speeches there, she was surprised and was sure that she would never be in her place. She was even pity of that woman and watched her with the feeling of ignorance. Some time had passed since Elizabeth Ashbridge decided to become the Quaker woman. It is crucial that since she became a Quaker woman, she was proud of it, and the whole book, with Elizabeth Ashbridge’s life description, shows that it was a long way to that and that her decision was weighed but not sudden (Ashbridge p.342).
Jonathan Edwards’s “Personal Narratives” is the other nature of reading. The main aim of Jonathan Edwards’ life was to save his faith in Christ. Jonathan Edwards was born in a religious family, so his feeling could be understood, “it has often appeared sweet to me”, he writes, “to be united to the Christ: to have Him for my head, and to be the member of His body: and to have the Christ for my teacher and prophet” (Edwards p. 324).
Considering God closer and closer, Edwards began to understand how sinful people are and that it is impossible to cover those sins by actions during their life on the earth (Edwards pp. 326-327). Reading these pages, it is impossible to avoid thinking about the exaggeration of his sinfulness. But Edwards does not think so, and it never came to his mind that his thoughts and beliefs could be rated as an exaggeration.
In conclusion, both writings are of different nature. Elizabeth Ashbridge describes her way to religion, her spiritual development, and coming to the understanding that religion is very important in people’s lives as it fills their lives with faith and hope. Jonathan Edwards, vice versa, was brought up in a religious family and did not have to search for religion, but he faces the problem that all people are more sinful than they may appear at first sight. This problem troubles him as he did not think about it when he was young. These works are very different, but at the same time, they are similar as they depict a person’s way to God and their existence with God.
- Ashbridge, Elizabeth. “Some Account of the Fore-Part of the Life of Elizabeth Ashbridge” in Heath Anthology of American Literature Concise Edition, pp. 339-349.
- Edwards, Jonathan. “Personal Narratives” in Heath Anthology of American Literature Concise Edition, pp. 317-327.