A Teenager's Resolutions (Part 4)
Editor's Note: If you can't read this entry in one sitting, please read it in two, or three. Since the writing is not ours Alex and I are unabashed in saying: "This is incredible stuff! READ IT! Treasure every word of it! Especially now as these last 4-5 installments will include Edwards Resolutions along with accompanying entries from his diary. This is an extraordinary opportunity to witness the spiritual battles of young man passionate for holiness.We continue our series on "The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards" -- which were written when he was only 19. As mentioned in Part 2, each installment will include ten of Edward's Resolutions along with a short, supplementary excerpt by or about Edwards.
Today's supplement comes directly from Jonathan Edwards' personal diary. The editors of JonathanEdwards.com comment: "Edwards started his "Diary" on December 18, 1722 the same day he wrote Resolution number 35 (the half way point). Rather than a recalling of the events of his life Edwards "Diary" is a deep self examination and a barometer of how well he was meeting his "Resolutions". Samples from his "Diary" show a young minister bent on self-improvement not only before men, but more importantly to Edwards, before the God he intensely loved and wanted to please. We do not get a glimpse of life in Pre-Revolutionary America in Edwards diary, instead we get insight of a Christian struggling with sin perfectly applicable today."
The format of this, and future posts, will be to alternate between Edward's Resolutions and his diary entries about those Resolutions. We pray that this insight will aid you in understanding and applying young Edward's Resolutions to your own life.
From His Diary: Wednesday, Dec. 26. Early in the morning yesterday, was hindered by the headache all day; though I hope I did not lose much. Made an addition to the 37th Resolution, concerning weeks, months and years. At night; made the 33rd Resolution. [Note: This Resolution made after 35-38]
THE RESOLUTIONS OF JONATHAN EDWARDS
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.From His Diary: Dec. 18. This day made the 35th Resolution. The reason why I, in the least, question my interest in God’s love and favor, is, — 1. Because I cannot speak so fully to my experience of that preparatory work, of which divines speak: — 2. I do not remember that I experienced regeneration, exactly in those steps, in which divines say it is generally wrought: — 3. I do not feel the Christian graces sensibly enough, particularly faith. I fear they are only such hypocritical outside affections, which wicked men may feel, as well as others. They do not seem to be sufficiently inward, full, sincere, entire and hearty. They do not seem so substantial, and so wrought into my very nature, as I could wish. — 4. Because I am sometimes guilty of sins of omission and commission. Lately I have doubted, whether I do not transgress in evil speaking. This day, resolved, No.
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.From His Diary: Dec. 19. This day made the 36th Resolution. Lately, I have been very much perplexed, by seeing the doctrine of different degrees in glory questioned; but now have almost got over the difficulty.
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.From His Diary: Dec. 20. This day somewhat questioned, whether I had not been guilty of negligence yesterday, and this morning; but resolved, No.
Dec. 21, Friday. This day, and yesterday, I was exceedingly dull, dry and dead.
Dec. 22, Saturday. This day, revived by God’s Holy Spirit; affected with the sense of the excellency of holiness; felt more exercise of love to Christ, than usual. Have also felt sensible repentance for sin, because it was committed against so merciful and good a God. This night made the 37th Resolution.
38. Resolved, never to speak anything that is ridiculous, sportive, or matter of laughter on the Lord's day. Sabbath evening, Dec. 23, 1722.From His Diary: Sabbath-night, Dec. 23. Made the 38th Resolution.
Monday, Dec. 24. Higher thoughts than usual of the excellency of Christ and his kingdom. — Concluded to observe, at the end of every month, the number of breaches of Resolutions, to see whether they increase or diminish, to begin from this day, and to compute from that the weekly account, my monthly increase, and, out of the whole, my yearly increase, beginning from new year days.
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.From His Diary: Saturday, Dec. 29. About sunset this day, dull and lifeless.
[Note: This gist of this Resolution seems to be that Edwards would not do anything which his conscience questioned. If, before committing an action, his conscience bothered him to the extent that he felt inclined to examine whether the action was right or wrong after committing it, then he shouldn't do it. The last sentence "except I as much question the lawfulness of the omission" implies that Edwards would commit the action if not committing the action bothered his conscience more. In all acounts, this Resolution deals with Edward's responsiveness to his God-given conscience.]
1722-23. Tuesday, Jan. 1. Have been dull for several days. Examined whether I have not been guilty of negligence today; and resolved, No.
Wednesday, Jan. 2. Dull. I find, by experience, that, let me make Resolutions, and do what I will, with never so many inventions, it is all nothing, and to no purpose at all, without the motions of the Spirit of God; for if the Spirit of God should be as much withdrawn from me always, as for the week past, notwithstanding all I do, I should not grow, but should languish, and miserably fade away. I perceive, if God should withdraw his Spirit a little more, I should not hesitate to break my Resolutions, and should soon arrive at my old state. There is no dependence on myself. Our resolutions may be at the highest one day, and yet, the next day, we may be in a miserable dead condition, not at all like the same person who resolved. So that it is to no purpose to resolve, except we depend on the grace of God. For if it were not for his mere grace, one might be a very good man one day, and a very wicked one the next. I find also by experience, that there is no guessing on the ends of Providence, in particular dispensations towards me — any otherwise than as afflictions come as corrections for sin, and God intends when we meet with them, to desire us to look back on our ways, and see wherein we have done amiss, and lament that particular sin, and all our sins, before him: — knowing this, also, that all things shall work together for our good; not knowing in what way, indeed, but trusting in God.
Saturday evening, Jan. 5. A little redeemed from a long dreadful dullness, about reading the Scriptures. This week, have been unhappily low in the weekly account: — and what are the reasons of it? — abundance of listlessness and sloth; and if this should continue much longer, I perceive that other sins will begin to discover themselves. It used to appear to me, that I had not much sin remaining; but now I perceive that there are great remainders of sin. Where may it not bring me to, if God should leave me? Sin is not enough mortified. Without the influences of the Spirit of God, the old serpent would begin to rouse up himself from his frozen state, and would come to life again. Resolved, That I have been negligent in two things: — in not striving enough in duty; and in not forcing myself upon religious thoughts.
Sabbath, Jan. 6. At night; Much concerned about the improvement of precious time. Intend to live in continual mortification, without ceasing, and even to weary myself thereby, as long as I am in this world, and never to expect or desire any worldly ease or pleasure.
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.Monday, Jan. 7. At night, made the 40th Resolution.
Tuesday, Jan. 8. In the morning, had higher thoughts than usual of the excellency of Christ, and felt an unusual repentance of sin therefrom.
Wednesday, Jan. 9. At night: Decayed. I am sometimes apt to think, that I have a great deal more of holiness than I really have. I find now and then that abominable corruption, which is directly contrary to what I read of eminent Christians. I do not seem to be half so careful to improve time, to do every thing quick, and in as short a time as I possibly can, nor to be perpetually engaged to think about religion, as I was yesterday and the day before, nor indeed as I have been at certain times, perhaps a twelve month ago. If my resolutions of that nature, from that time, had always been kept alive and awake, how much better might I have been, than I now am. How deceitful is my heart! I take up a strong resolution, but how soon doth it weaken.