Esther Burr’s Diary
When writing essays one must outline the topic. Here’s an outline that works for biographies or historical fiction.
Compare/Contrast the life of the main character and your life.
Introduction: Present three areas using a parallel structure to present these areas.
Area #1: Life of the main character vs. My life
Area #2: Life of the main character vs. My life
Area #3: Life of the main character vs. My life
Conclusion: Review three areas using a parallel structure to summarize these areas.
Reading Esther’s Burr’s Diary made me think about how different her life seems from mine, so I chose the above outline for my essay. Born on February 13, 1732, Esther Edwards grew up in the home of the great theologian and famous preacher of the Great Awakening, Jonathan Edwards. Later, she married Aaron Burr. Her son, Aaron Burr Jr., became vice president and, above all, challenged Alexander Hamilton, the treasury secretary, to a duel. Hamilton died as a result.
Esther Burr’s Diary – Her Life and Mine
I didn’t know anything about Esther Burr before I read her diary. This journal opens on her ninth birthday when she states that her mother asked her to sew pages together to make a journal. Certainly a girl who wrote a diary in 1741 lived a very different life than I did. Yet we share in important ways. Exploring these similarities and differences, we will look at her relationship with her parents, her husband, and her Lord.
Immediately, Esther’s references to her parents struck me as very different. She referred to them as Mr. or Mrs. Edwards. Except when she was a very young child when she was a daddy or mommy, I have referred to my parents as daddy and mommy. While some of my peers have used other names for their parents, I don’t know of any who have referred to them as Mr. and Mrs. when speaking of or to them. Additionally, Esther would include additional terms of respect such as “my honorable father, Mr. Edwards.” From the diary, I guess that when talking to them, Esther called them Father and Mother. My mother also called her parents Father and Mother. As I got older, I think my parents expected and received more respect from my siblings and me than from others. I grew up in a military family and that possibly contributed to a higher expectation than the general population. Even so, in general I think that respect for elders has diminished considerably throughout my life and certainly quite a lot since the 18th century.
Later in the journal, I found out that the path from meeting someone to getting married has changed a lot since Esther Burr’s life. Aaron Burr, a preacher, had been visiting Edward’s house for an extended period and surprised Esther the day that it was her turn to cook breakfast for Mr. Burr and no one else came to breakfast. Mr. Burr asked her to marry him. Her response: “If it pleases the Lord.” Later, Mr. Burr sent horses for Esther and her mother. Upon arrival, Aaron and Esther were married. Again, she referred to her husband as Mr. Burr. At the age of 20 she became the wife of a busy pastor. Later, she had two children. When she had to preach or teach elsewhere, she missed him and even gave birth to Aaron Burr, Jr. in Mr. Burr’s absence. I also want to show respect for my husband. Nowadays, women commonly refer to their husbands by their first names unless they are talking to a son who should address him as “Sir…” Although, I don’t think we should go back to that formality, as wives. Christians we must show respect for our husbands towards them and towards them. Also, when talking to others, we should not speak ill of our husbands. Certainly, although they are not perfect, they are perfect for us. God uses spouses to sanctify each other. Reading Esther’s journal is a great reminder for all of us.
Finally, we will explore Esther’s relationship with her Lord. She grew up in a pastor’s home and experienced the “Great Awakening” of a very unique situation. She talked about how God used her parents to deal with those convicted of sin. An example of Esther’s relationship with the Lord, “The air was filled with the music of the sleigh bells of the churchgoers as they passed by. And I thought of what it says in the scriptures about the bells when they He entered the holy place; and thus the loudest music from the church bells seemed to say to my soul, Holiness to the Lord!” (p. 22) Also, Esther quoted something her father preached that hurt her,
Ruth’s resolution: ‘Do not beg me to leave you, nor to stop following you. (Ruth 1,16) I will never forget his words about the people of God. He said: “They are the most excellent and happy society in the world. God, whom they have chosen as their God, is their Father. He has forgiven all their sins, and they are at peace with Him. And He has admitted them all privileges of children. As they have consecrated themselves to God, so God has given himself to them… ‘Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.’ P.23
Yes, knowing that the holy and sovereign God of the universe is the God of His children brings untold blessings. I don’t have to be the daughter of famous parents or married to a famous man to know that I am the daughter of this great God.
Knowing Esther Burr through reading her diary has enriched me. Accompanying great contrasts in our lives, I rejoice in the similarities. Her relationships with her parents, her husband, and her Lord mirror mine in many ways.
Six months apart, the grandparents and parents of 4-year-old Sally Burr Reeves and 2-year-old Aaron Burr Jr. died leaving them orphans. Aaron Burr died at the age of 41. Months later, Jonathan Edwards died as a result of a smallpox vaccination. Within 16 days Esther Burr died. Six months after Jonathan’s death, Sarah died of dysentery. These individuals gave everything for Christ.