Our third installment blogging about Sarah Osborn’s world (previous postings #1 & #2).
Within a few years after experiencing her conversion to Christ, Sarah Osborn completed her set of diary entries that would serve as the basis for her published work. Harvard Divinity School religious historian, Catherine A. Brekus, weaves these diary entries into her biography of this remarkable woman: in Sarah Osborn’s World. Sarah Osborn continued to write other letters and other diaries, that Brekus also highlights in her research, giving us insight into the life of this 18th century, American, evangelical Christian woman.
Sarah Osborn lived an exceedingly difficult life. One of those difficulties was having to bury her one and only son. When her son, Samuel, was only twelve years old, he had been sent off to learn a trade, serving as an apprentice to a tailor, which was a typical way of providing an education for young boys at the time. However, Samuel contracted what was most probably tuberculosis. In an age before the development of contemporary medicine, Sarah Osborn held the hand of her pale and dying son, for several days. Unfortunately for Sarah, who had only a few years previously come to faith in Christ, she agonized over the spiritual state of her son, as he had never given his own testimony as to having a faith in Jesus. Continue reading
In this second blog post reviewing Catherine A. Brekus study of the life and writings of Sarah Osborn, an early American who experienced the revivals of the 18th century Great Awakening, we dig a little more deeply into the life of this remarkable woman. Sarah Osborn tells us not just about herself, in the 18th century, but she also shows us a lot about what it means to be a Christian in America in the 21st century.
Sarah Osborn grew up exposed to Christian teaching, but she admitted that a rebellious attitude sought to dull her spiritual sensitivities. At times, Sarah would have experiences that would lead her to seriously consider growing in her faith, but these moments were often followed by extended times where her thoughts were redirected elsewhere. She enjoyed frivolous activities with friends, such as “card playing” and “dancing,” but these were often frowned upon by Puritan preaching. Nevertheless, her personal struggles also brought back times of sobriety where she was able to reconsider what it meant to have faith in God. Continue reading
As part of a focus on American Church History, over the next few months, I will blog my way through a book that I found both thoughtful and enthralling. I read it as I sat with my mother, a little over four years ago, when she dying of cancer.
The history of Christianity has been dominated by male voices. Some of the most profound literary contributions of women have simply remained forgotten. So when someone rediscovers a woman’s voice of faith from the past, it can be a real treasure to find.
Harvard Divinity School religious historian, Catherine Brekus, has given us a remarkable gift by recovering for us the lost story of Sarah Osborn (1714-1796), a poor woman from New England who met Jesus during the great revivals of the mid-18th century. It was during this “First Great Awakening” where the English speaking world was greatly impacted by the dynamic preaching of George Whitefield and John Wesley, which helped to define contemporary evangelicalism. I hope you enjoy her story as much as I did as I post up various blog summaries of Brekus’ wonderful book. Better yet, read the book yourself!