Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Lifetime Resolutions Of Jonathan Edwards (text version) - An Excellent Example Of New Year's Resolutions For Christians

The Lifetime Resolutions Of Jonathan Edwards (text version) - An Excellent
Example Of New Year's Resolutions For Christians

By Rev. Bill McGinnis, Pastor -
Director -

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Jonathan Edwards was . . . "born Oct. 5, 1703, East Windsor, Conn. [U.S.]
died March 22, 1758, Princeton, N.J. - - (The) greatest theologian and
philosopher of British American Puritanism, stimulator of the religious
revival known as the 'Great Awakening,' and one of the forerunners of the
age of Protestant missionary expansion in the 19th century."

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"During his preparation for the ministry, his residence in New York, and
his subsequent residence in his father's house, he formed a series of
resolutions, to the number of seventy, intended obviously for himself
alone, to regulate his own heart and life, but fitted also, from their
Christian simplicity and spiritual-mindedness, to be eminently useful to
others. Of these the first thirty-four* were written before Dec. 18, 1722,
the time in which his Diary, as it now exists, commences. The particular
time and occasion of making many of the rest, will be found in that most
interesting narrative, in which also are many other rules and resolutions,
intended for the regulation of his own affections, of perhaps equal
excellence. It should be remembered they were all written before he was
twenty years of age. As he was wholly averse to all profession and
ostentation ; and as these resolutions themselves were plainly intended
for no other eye than his own, except the eye that is omniscient; they may
be justly considered as the basis of his conduct and character, the plan
by which he governed the secret as well as the publick actions of his
" Being sensible that I am unable to do any thing 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 the glory of
God, 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
myriads 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, so to do,
whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever.

2. Resolved, To be continually endeavouring to find out some new
contrivance and invention to promote the forementioned 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 possibly avoid it.

5. Resolved, Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the
most profitable way I possibly can.

6. Resolved, To live with all my might, while I do live.

7. Resolved, Never to do any thing, 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
onlv an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God. Vid. July

9. Resolved, To think much, on all occasions, of my dying, and of the
common circumstances which attend death.

10. Resolved, When I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of

11. Resolved, When I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved,
immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances do not

(The first twenty-one were written with the same pen; as were the next
ten, at a subsequent sitting. The rest were written occasionally, on two
detached pieces of paper.)

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 endeavouring to find out fit objects of liberality and

14. Resolved, Never to do any thing out of revenge.

15. Resolved, Never to suffer the least motions of anger towards
irrational beings.

16. Resolved, Never to speak evil of any one, so that it shall tend to his
dishonour, 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 most
devout frames, and when I have the clearest notions of the things of the
gospel, and another world.

19. Resolved, Never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do, if I
expected it would not be above an hour before I should hear the last

20. Resolved, To maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.

21. Resolved, Never to do any thing, 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.

22. Resolved, To endeavour to obtain for myself as much happiness in the
other world as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigour, 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 fourth 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
endeavour 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 so
direct all my forces against it.

26. Resolved, To cast away such things as I find do abate my assurance.

27. Resolved, Never wilfully to omit any thing, 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 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 any thing at all against any body, but when it
is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honour, 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 any thing against any one, 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. xx. 6. ' A faithful man, who can find ?' may not be partly
fulfilled in me.

33. Resolved, To do always what I can towards making, maintaining, and
preserving peace, when it can be done without an overbalancing detriment
in other respects. Dec. 26, 1722.

34. Resolved, In narrations, never to speak any thing 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 to 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 utter any thing that is sportive, or matter of
laughter, on a Lord's day. Sabbath evening, Dec. 23, 1722.

39. Resolved, Never to do any thing, of which I so much question the
lawfulness, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine
afterwards, whether it be lawful or not; unless 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,

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 12th
day of January, 1723.

43. Resolved, Never, henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way
my own, but entirely and altogether God's; agreeably to what is to be
found in ... (the Scriptures?) 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,

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 or
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 eye; and to
be especially careful of it with respect to any of our family.

47. Resolved, To endeavour, to my utmost, to deny whatever is not most
agreeable to a good and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet,
peaceable, contented and easy, compassionate and generous, humble and
meek, submissive and obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable and
even, patient, moderate, forgiving, and sincere, temper; and to do, at all
times, what such a temper would lead me to; and to examine strictly, at
the end of every week, whether I have so done. Sabbath morning, May 5,

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 not; 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, That 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,

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. Resolved, Whenever I hear anything spoken in commendation of any
person, if I think it would be praiseworthy in me, that I will endeavour
to imitate it. July 8, 1723.

55. Resolved, To endeavour, to my utmost, so 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 adversity, to examine whether I
have done my duty, and resolve to do it, and let the event 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. May 27, 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 11, 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, &c. May 21, and July 13,1723.

62. Resolved, Never to do any thing but my duty, and then, according to
Eph. vi. 6-8. to 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
lustre, 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 13, 1723.

64. Resolved, When I find those " groanings which cannot be uttered," of
which the apostle speaks, and those " breathings of soul for the longing
it hath," of which the psalmist speaks, Psalm cxix. 20. that I will
promote them to the utmost of my power; and that I will not be weary of
earnestly endeavouring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such
earnestness. July 23, and Aug. 10,1723.

65. Resolved, Very much to exercise myself in this, all my life long, viz.
with the greatest openness of which I am capable, 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 Sermon on the 119th Psalm. July 26, and Aug. 10,

66. Resolved, That I will endeavour 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 1 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,

Source: The works of Jonathan Edwards By Jonathan Edwards, Henry Rogers,
Sereno Edwards Dwight, (1839), pages lxii-lxiv as copied and digitized by
Google Books at
May the Lord bless this presentation.

Blessings to you in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Rev. Bill McGinnis <><

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