Skip to comments.The New Years Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards (1722-1723)
Posted on 12/31/2001 8:27:51 AM PST by Matchett-PI
The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards (1722-1723)
Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ's sake.
Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.
1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad's of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.
2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the aforementioned things.
3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.
4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.
5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.
6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.
9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.
10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.
11. Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances don't hinder.
12. Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.
13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.
14. Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge.
15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings.
16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.
17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
18. Resolved, to live so at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world.
19. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.
20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.
21. Resolved, never to do anything, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him.
(Resolutions 1 through 21 written in on setting in New Haven in 1722)
22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power; might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.
23. Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God's glory, to repute it as a breach of the 4th Resolution.
24. Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.
25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.
26. Resolved, to east away such things, as I find do abate my assurance.
27. Resolved, never willfully to omit anything, except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions.
28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.
29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.
30. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.
31. Resolved, never to say anything at all against anybody, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution.
32. Resolved, to be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that in Prov. 20:6, "A faithful man who can find?" may not be partly fulfilled in me.
33. Resolved, always to do what I can towards making, maintaining, establishing and preserving peace, when it can be without over-balancing detriment in other respects. Dec.26, 1722.
34. Resolved, in narration's never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity.
35. Resolved, whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved. Dec. 18, 1722.
36. Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it. Dec. 19, 1722.
37. Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself: also at the end of every week, month and year. Dec.22 and 26, 1722.
38. Resolved, never to speak anything that is ridiculous, sportive, or matter of laughter on the Lord's day. Sabbath evening, Dec. 23, 1722.
39. Resolved, never to do anything that I so much question the lawfulness of, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or no; except I as much question the lawfulness of the omission.
40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking. Jan. 7, 1723.
41. Resolved, to ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better. Jan. 11, 1723.
42. Resolved, frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God, which was made at my baptism; which I solemnly renewed, when I was received into the communion of the church; and which I have solemnly re-made this twelfth day of January, 1722-23.
43. Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God's, agreeable to what is to be found in Saturday, January 12. Jan.12, 1723.
44- Resolved, that no other end but religion, shall have any influence at all on any of my actions; and that no action shall be, in the least circumstance, any otherwise than the religious end will carry it. Jan.12, 1723.
45. Resolved, never to allow any pleasure or grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affection at all, nor any degree of affection, nor any circumstance relating to it, but what helps religion. Jan.12 and 13.1723.
46. Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eve: and to be especially careful of it, with respect to any of our family.
47. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good, and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peaceable, contented, easy, compassionate, generous, humble, meek, modest, submissive, obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable, even, patient, moderate, forgiving, sincere temper; and to do at all times what such a temper would lead me to. Examine strictly every week, whether I have done so. Sabbath morning. May 5,1723.
48. Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or no; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of. May 26, 1723.
49. Resolved, that this never shall be, if I can help it.
50. Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world. July 5, 1723.
51. Resolved, that I will act so, in every respect, as I think I shall wish I had done, if I should at last be damned. July 8, 1723.
52. 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. July 8, 1723.
53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer. July 8, 1723.
54. Whenever I hear anything spoken in conversation of any person, if I think it would be praiseworthy in me, Resolved to endeavor to imitate it. July 8, 1723.
55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments. July 8, 1723.
56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.
57. Resolved, when I fear misfortunes and adversities, to examine whether ~ have done my duty, and resolve to do it; and let it be just as providence orders it, I will as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty and my sin. June 9, and July 13 1723.
58. Resolved, not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness and benignity. May27, and July 13, 1723.
59. Resolved, when I am most conscious of provocations to ill nature and anger, that I will strive most to feel and act good-naturedly; yea, at such times, to manifest good nature, though I think that in other respects it would be disadvantageous, and so as would be imprudent at other times. May 12, July ii, and July 13.
60. Resolved, whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination. July 4, and 13, 1723.
61. Resolved, that I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it-that what my listlessness inclines me to do, is best to be done, etc. May 21, and July 13, 1723.
62. Resolved, never to do anything but duty; and then according to Eph.6:6-8, do it willingly and cheerfully as unto the Lord, and not to man; "knowing that whatever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord." June 25 and July 13, 1723.
63. On the supposition, that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true luster, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, to act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time. Jan.14' and July '3' 1723.
64. Resolved, when I find those "groanings which cannot be uttered" (Rom. 8:26), of which the Apostle speaks, and those "breakings of soul for the longing it hath," of which the Psalmist speaks, Psalm 119:20, that I will promote them to the utmost of my power, and that I will not be weary of earnestly endeavoring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness. July 23, and August 10, 1723.
65. Resolved, very much to exercise myself in this all my life long, viz. with the greatest openness I am capable of, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to him: all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and every thing, and every circumstance; according to Dr. Manton's 27th Sermon on Psalm 119. July 26, and Aug.10 1723.
66. Resolved, that I will endeavor always to keep a benign aspect, and air of acting and speaking in all places, and in all companies, except it should so happen that duty requires otherwise.
67. Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them.
68. Resolved, to confess frankly to myself all that which I find in myself, either infirmity or sin; and, if it be what concerns religion, also to confess the whole case to God, and implore needed help. July 23, and August 10, 1723.
69. Resolved, always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it. Aug. 11, 1723.
70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak. Aug. 17, 1723
Do you notice how his motivation was always to try do what he thought would "glorify God" (right or wrong)?
Any "judging" he exhibits is against himself. He wants to have nothing but charitable and compassionate thoughts about others, and is anquished in his spirit when he can't do it.
This *motivation* shows a very emotionally and spiritually mature mentality.
Those (professing Christians or otherwise) who think *it's all about them*, and have no such motivations toward God or others, hate his example because it makes them *feel* judged and condemned merely when they see or hear about it.
Edwards strove only to be hard on himself, not others. Yet the emotion-driven "others" love to accuse him of just the opposite. :D
Regrettably, Col. Burr spread his seed all over America and Europe. His one legitimate child, a daughter, died in a shipwreck with her new husband before she could leave an heir.
However, if Gore Vidal's theory about Martin van Buren's parentage is correct, then Jonathan Edwards is the great-grandfather of President Van Buren.
To "glorify" God has taken on an unfortunate twist in understanding in our time. For many Christians, to "glorify God" means that we do our best, put our best foot foward, spare no expense, etc., in regard to our work for God.
However, in the Bible I see a different idea. Whenever God's "glory" is mentioned, it relates to a physical, visible, sometimes audible manifestation of God Himself; e.g., God's glory was manifested in the column of smoke by day, fire by night, which led the nation of Israel through the wilderness; "the glory of the Lord" appeared in the temple to Isaiah, and was seen by Isaiah.
Essentially, man does not glorify God; God glorifies Himself. Or, to put it another way: a person glorifies God only when that person allows God to show Himself through him or her, so, what people see is not the person's best efforts on God's behalf, but they see God Himself, living out through the life and actions of the person. One glorifies God by denying oneself, which is what I believe Edwards is talking about. It's a subtle difference, but it's the difference between self-righteous behavior, and "death to self" which allows the life of Christ to shine through a person -- one is a "pretend" glory, and the other is the actual glory of God.
What a wonderful antidote to pride...
Give the Christians a ping.
Resolved, that I will do everything in my power to be more like Jesus.
That and stop being so tolerant.
BRAAD to the Bone!
It sure is!
Interesting history! I, too, think Edward's resolutions are great!
From my Jonathan Edwards files:
The achievements of his descendants are such that the Edwards family used to be cited in psychology textbooks -- and in Ripley's Believe It Or Not column -- as proof that genius is an inherited trait.
try reading his sermon "On the Excellencies of Christ." To obtain a copy, send the message GET LION LAMB to the address LISTSERV@ASUVM.INRE.ASU.EDU and back will come a 1454-line file containing the sermon. Alternatively consult the Web at http://www.ihi.aber.ac.uk/~spk/christia.html
Emotionally/spiritually immature Christians will always be with us. They are usually either very legalistic, religious zealots (like the Jewish Christians in Galatia) or go to the other extreme of embracing cheap grace.
Today's feminized, professing Christian churches are filled with those shallow, superficial mentalities.
The Puritan influence is interwoven into the founding of this country and its great institutions. The whole foundation of this country is based upon the Christian Worldview / the Judeo-Christian ethic.
It is painful to see how the ignoble/ignominious Left has been able to get away with undermining and denigrating the foundation that was wrought by the noble minds of the Framers who suffered so much to bring it to us.
I hope that Bill Bennett and others, are wildly successful in their efforts to see to it that America's children are once again taught the true history of the founding of this country, and why upholding and defending our Constitution is so crucial if we are to protect the God-given rights and liberties of future generations, not only here, but around the world.
I don't know, I only know what his strong motivations were. See the first sentence in reply #3.
Probably beats being one of America's greatest lawyers or used car salesmen...but not by much.
Actually, in my simple state I could simply state my resolution as follows:
1 Corinthians 10:31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
In answer to the question: right!
I can not keep one resolution. this man of God kept all of his I believe.
I couldn't help but note that he didn't resolve one thing that was not God directed...no attempt to be better through his own effort or works.Reminds me of the OT where we are told to keep the word of God on our forhead,on our lips and on our hands....live a fully God directed life...
May God Bless and Keep each of you this New Year!
May God bless the reading of His Word....
He was a great man.
P.S. Would someone please forward this list to William Jefferson Clinton?
Edward's list brings to my mind this from Job, "Things too wonderful for me . . . " (Job 42:3). All of the Puritans' writings are the source of much motivation to me.
I am struck by the emphasis of duty in the list of resolutions. I counted 6 references to duty, 0 references to rights.
It is a facile lie to say that one government is a theocracy and another ain't. All governments are theocracies, no law exists without a spiritual reason for it.
Practically there can be no separation of church and state, and yet the Founders did the right thing with the First Admenment -- they kept the tent of America open on all four sides. Too often harsh theocracies create great evils and distance themselves from G-d by saying only one door is open, and no others. It is usually a too narrow door detested by G-d.
The worst, I think, are the tyrants, facists and eliists who close all doors to their goverments.
May the plague of "self-esteem" be gone from our popular vocabulary, and be replaced by service, duty, and sacrifice. And may many more saints confused by the drivel of the "gospel" according to television preachers, find the rich streams of the faith that still flows from pastors like Edwards, Spurgeon, Whitfield, Owens, Watson, Pink, and others who handled the scriptures with reverence and grace.
The separation of church and state clause merely prohibits the government from setting up one state religion, like "THE Church of England".
There isn't a person alive who isn't "religious" in one way shape or form even if his religion is atheism. Therefore, there isn't a person alive who doesn't have a "worldview" (how he views the world around him).
So what to do? What to do?
America's Framers knew exactly what to do, because they were VERY familiar with Scripture, and therefore knew that a government based upon the "The Christian Worldview" is the best form of government to protect people's liberties and rights which they believed to be "God-given" and there for inalieable (cannot be taken away by men).
Note: The Christian Worldview is theistic in the sense that it believes in the existence of one infinite, supremely powerful, and personal God who has given us his infallible Word in writing - The Holy Scriptures.
Regardless as to whether people believe in that One Supreme Triune Being or His Word, the Bible, the only mentalities who hate the form of government that God commands in that Bible, are tyrannical mentalities whose goal is to obtain power and control over others. Tyrants will NEVER admit that the rights and liberties given to human beings, are inalieable because they come from an unchanging, all powerful God, and not from "the government".
Our Constitution stands in the way of tyrants -- and if upheld and defended, it effectively prevents tyrants / dictators from ever gaining absolute power and control in America.
And its all based upon the "Christian Worldview" / Judeo-Christian ethic:
For any governments of men to be valid in God's eyes they must  be limited,  based upon "the rule of law",  protect and defend the God-given rights and liberties of its citizens,  by punishing evil-doers (the lawless) swiftly.
The Constitution of the United States is a "Godly" document, because it conforms to God's loving standards of how to look out for the interests, rights and liberties of the weak and powerless. (Ditto for our other founding documents).
What citizen would have a problem with such a Godly government, whether they believe in that "God", or not?
Certainly not the law-abiding.
Only the lawless. Only cynical opportunists who want to take advantage of (or live at the expense of) others. Only tyranical mentalities who need to get the Constitution out of the way or changed so that the door will be opened for them to obtain total power.
Tyrants hate "limited government". We can be thankful that America's Framers allowed themselves to be greatly influenced by the Holy Scriptures when they set up our government.
America is freedom's last "real" stand, BECAUSE of our Constitution. Those who believe that ALL men's rights and liberties come from an infinite, UNCHANGING, all-powerful God, and are willing to defend that belief, are the noble of the earth. And they have HUGE targets on their backs, because they stand in the way of the greedy -- and in the way of the tyrannical mentalities, preventing them from getting what they want from others. fact.
See reply #44.
Clinton only views God and religion as a tool to glorify himself in the eyes of the shallow/superficial mentalities Marx called, "useful idiots", and Barnum called, "suckers".
Thank you very much, my friend! Will do!
So many images of G-d running around, the primordial forces, left by the Creator under the sway of mankind:
"to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind ..In the spiritually awakened consciousness of the Founding times:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ..."The three enumerated Rights:
Life, we know easuily enough. It is also a respect for animal life.
Liberty .. why that is property, and the right to keep it, the right to own, the right to sell, the right to contract freely. It is also anti-sexual immorality.
But, "the pusuit of Happiness" -- what is that? That is our soul's sublime happiness in connection to G-d.