A Teenager's Resolutions (Part 5)
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 in which describe his stuggles in keeping his 75 Resolutions. Edward's diary is a wonderful glimpse into the heart and mind of young man passionate for the Lord.
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: Thursday, Jan. 10, about noon. Recovering. It is a great dishonor to Christ, in whom I hope I have an interest, to be uneasy at my worldly state and condition; or, when I see the prosperity of others, and that all things go easy with them, the world is smooth to them, and they are very happy in many respects, and very prosperous, or are advanced to much honor; to grudge them their prosperity, or envy them on account of it, or to be in the least uneasy at it, to wish and long for the same prosperity, and to desire that it should ever be so with me. Wherefore, concluded always to rejoice in every one’s prosperity, and not to pretend to expect or desire it for myself, and to expect no happiness of that nature, as long as I live; but to depend on afflictions, and to betake myself entirely to another happiness. — I think I find myself much more sprightly and healthy, both in body and mind, for my self-denial in eating, drinking and sleeping. I think it would be advantageous, every morning to consider my business and temptations, and the sins to which I shall be exposed on that day, and to make a resolution how to improve the day, and avoid those sins, and so at the beginning of every week, month and year. I never knew before what was meant, by not setting our hearts on those things. It is not to care about them, nor to depend upon them, nor to afflict ourselves with the fear of losing them, nor to please ourselves with the expectation of obtaining them, or with the hopes of their continuance. — At night; made the 41st Resolution.
THE RESOLUTIONS OF JONATHAN EDWARDS
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.From His Diary: Saturday, Jan. 12. In the morning. I have this day, solemnly renewed my baptismal covenant and self-dedication, which I renewed, when I was taken into the communion of the church. I have been before God, and have given myself, all that I am and have, to God; so that I am not, in any respect, my own. I can challenge no right in this understanding, this will, these affections, which are in me. Neither have I any right to this body, or any of its members — no right to this tongue, these hands, these feet; no right to these senses, these eyes, these ears, this smell, or this taste. I have given myself clear away, and have not retained any thing, as my own. I gave myself to God, in my baptism, and I have been this morning to him, and told him, that I gave myself wholly to him. I have given every power to him; so that for the future, I’ll challenge no right in myself, in no respect whatever. I have expressly promised him, and I do now promise Almighty God, that by his grace, I will not. I have this morning told him, that I did take him for my whole portion and felicity, looking on nothing else, as any part of my happiness, nor acting as if it were; and his Law, for the constant rule of my obedience; and would fight, with all my might, against the world, the flesh and the devil, to the end of my life; and that I did believe in Jesus Christ, and did receive him as a Prince and Savior; and that I would adhere to the faith and obedience of the Gospel, however hazardous and difficult, the confession and practice of it may be; and that I did receive the blessed Spirit, as my Teacher, Sanctifier, and only Comforter, and cherish all his motions to enlighten, purify, confirm, comfort and assist me. This, I have done; and I pray God, for the sake of Christ, to look upon it as a self-dedication, and to receive me now, as entirely his own, and to deal with me, in all respects, as such, whether he afflicts me, or prospers me, or whatever he pleases to do with me, who am his. Now, henceforth, I am not to act, in any respect, as my own. — I shall act as my own, if I ever make use of any of my powers to any thing that is not to the glory of God, and do not make the glorifying of him, my whole and entire business: — if I murmur in the least at affliction; if I grieve at the prosperity of others; if I am in any way uncharitable; if I am angry because of injuries; if I revenge them; if I do any thing purely to please myself, or if I avoid any thing for the sake of my own ease; if I omit any thing, because it is great self-denial; if I trust to myself; if I take any of the praise of any good that I do, or that God doth by me; or if I am in any way proud. This day, made the 42d and 43d Resolutions: — Whether or no, any other end ought to have any influence at all, on any of my actions; or whether any action ought to be any otherwise, in any respect, than it would be, if nothing else but religion had the least influence on my mind. Wherefore, I make the 44th Resolution.
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.From His Diary: Query: Whether any delight, or satisfaction, ought to be allowed, because any other end is obtained beside a religious one. In the afternoon, I answer, Yes; because if we should never suffer ourselves to rejoice, but because we have obtained a religious end, we should never rejoice at the sight of friends, we should not allow ourselves any pleasure in our food, whereby the animal spirits would be withdrawn, and good digestion hindered. But the query is to be answered thus: — We never ought to allow any joy or sorrow, but what helps religion. Wherefore, I make the 45th Resolution.
The reason why I so soon grow lifeless, and unfit for the business I am about, I have found out, is only because I have been used to suffer myself to leave off, for the sake of ease, and so, I have acquired a habit of expecting case; and therefore, when I think I have exercised myself a great while, I cannot keep myself to it any longer, because I expect to be released, as my due and right. And then, I am deceived, as if I were really tired and weary. Whereas, if I did not expect ease, and was resolved to occupy myself by business, as much as I could; I should continue with the same vigor at my business, without vacation time to rest. Thus, I have found it in reading the Scriptures; and thus, I have found it in prayer; and thus, I believe it to be in getting sermons by heart, and in other things.
At night. This week, the weekly account rose higher than ordinary. It is suggested to me, that too constant a mortification, and too vigorous application to religion, may be prejudicial to health; but nevertheless, I will plainly feel it and experience it, before I cease, on this account. It is no matter how much tired and weary I am, if my health is not impaired.
Sabbath day, Jan. 13. I plainly feel, that if I should continue to go on, as from the beginning of the last week hitherto, I should continually grow and increase in grace. After the afternoon meeting, made an addition to the 45th Resolution. At noon; I remember I thought that I loved to be a member of Christ, and not any thing distinct, but only a part, so as to have no separate interest, or pleasure of my own. At night, resolved to endeavor fully to understand 1 Cor. 7:29-32, and to act according to it.
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.From His Diary: Saturday morning, May 25. As I was this morning reading the 17th Resolution, it was suggested to me, that if I were now to die, I should wish that I had prayed more, that God would make me know my state, whether it be good or bad, and that I had taken more pains and care, to see and narrowly search into that matter. Wherefore, Mem. for the future, most nicely and diligently to look into the opinions of our old divines, concerning conversion. This morning made the 48th Resolution.
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. [Note: I believe this resolution refers to Resolution 48.]From His Diary: Friday morning, July 5. Last night, when thinking what I should wish I had done, that I had not done, if I was then to die; I thought I should wish, that I had been more importunate with God, to fit me for death, and lead me into all truth, and that I might not be deceived about the state of my soul. — In the forenoon, made the 50th Resolution.
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.