reb•e•lu•tion (reb’el lu shen) n. a teenage rebellion against the low expectations of an ungodly culture.

2/28/2006

A Teenager's Resolutions (Part 2)

As we continue through "The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards" -- written while he still a teenager, at 19-years-old -- we will supplement this reading with other excerpts written by or about Jonathan Edwards. Today I supplement resolutions 11-20 with a brief description of the ingenious way in which Jonathan Edwards organized his writings -- as shared by Samuel Hopkins in "The Life and Character of the Late Reverend Mr. Jonathan Edwards." It seems to me that Edwards would have been an incredible blogger.

[Note: "The Life and Character of the Late Reverend Mr. Jonathan Edwards" by Samuel Hopkins was the first biography ever written on Jonathan Edwards. Every major biography ever written on Edwards has quoted extensively from this volume. However, the English is dated, but beautiful. Challenge yourself to comprehend the meaning of each word and enjoy this small insight into the life of one the most important and influential men in American history.]

Samuel Hopkin writes . . .

As the method [Jonathan Edwards] took to have his miscellaneous writings in such order, as to be able with ease to turn to anything he had wrote upon a particular subject, when he had occasion, is perhaps as good as any, if not the best that has been proposed to the public; some account of it will here be given, as what may be of advantage to young students, who have not yet gone into any method, and are disposed to improve their minds by writing.

He numbered all his miscellaneous writings. The first thing he wrote is No. 1. the second No. 2. and so on. And when he had occasion to write on any particular subject, he first set down the number, and then wrote the subject in capitals or large character, that it might not escape his eye, when he should have occasion to turn to it. As for instance, if he was going to write on the happiness of angels, and his last No. was 148, he would begin thus — 149 ANGELS, their happiness. — And when he had wrote what he designed at that time on that subject, he would turn to an alphabetical table which he kept, and under the letter A, he would write, Angels, their happiness, if this was not already in his alphabet; and then set down the Number, 149, close at the right hand of it. And if he had occasion to write any new thoughts on this same subject; if the number of his miscellanies was increased, so that his last number was 261, he would set down the number 262, and then the subject, as before. And when he had done writing for that time, he turned to his table, to the word angels; and at the right hand of the Number 149, set down 262. By this means he had no occasion to leave any chasms; but began his next subject where he left off his last. The number of his miscellaneous writings ranged in this manner, amounts to above 1400. And yet by a table contained on a sheet or two of paper, any thing he wrote can be turned to, at pleasure.
It seems to me that the incredible discipline and organization of this man cannot be separated from his legacy as the greatest Protestant thinker and theologian in American history. I am also struck by the wide range of subjects his writing covered. He clearly sought hard after knowledge. In fact, Samuel Hopkins writes, "He had an uncommon thirst for knowledge, in the pursuit of which, he spared no cost nor pains. He read all the books, especially books of divinity, that he could come at, from which he could hope to get any help in his pursuit of knowledge."

We would do well to remember that sitting down to write doesn't make an empty mind full. Jonathan Edwards clearly wrote from his own fullness of heart and mind.
THE RESOLUTIONS OF JONATHAN EDWARDS

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.
Read Part One - Resolutions #1-10
Read Part Two - Resolutions #11-20
Read Part Three - Resolutions #21-30
Read Part Four - Resolutions #31-40
Read Part Five - Resolutions #41-50
Read Part Six - Resolutions #51-60
Read Part Seven - Resolutions #61-70
Read Closing Statements