Jonathan Edwards’ Resolutions

It's that time of year again. Soon the hectic time will be over and many will be considering the coming year. This is a time when many people make their "new year's resolutions". Most have to do with losing weight, giving up some habit or starting on a new program of exercise, etc., all to improve the body. However, most resolutions have little to do with what matters the most - the soul. A prayerful reading of the resolutions of a man mightily used of God in his day will be profitable. Perhaps even take some of them on and make them your own!

Here they are: the resolutions of Jonathan Edwards (1703 - 1758)

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 cast 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, peace_able, 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 I 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 wear', 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

6 thoughts on “Jonathan Edwards’ Resolutions

  1. Thank you for directing me to your blog. This is just the kind of reading that will be of help in my life even at 57 years old... I am looking forward to reading more. But, 70 resolutions?! I had enough difficulty with just keeping ONE (maybe two) in years gone by.

    Going forward, I have one resolution to roll over from last year (zero drinking) and am going to try to follow up thoughts offered up by Emmet Fox (1938, "The Sermon on the Mount") who says that the best prayers are those which ask only for His guidance and wisdom (similar to AA's suggestions to ask for recognition and strength to do the right thing when at a crossroads). I look forward to sharing insights here.

    Reply
  2. admin

    Post author

    Welcome to my site, Robert.
    I look forward to you looking forward to reading more, (as well as to me writing more!).
    It is important to note that Edwards' resolutions were not made in order to improve himself to come to God, but rather as a sinner who had been saved by the grace of God and now desired to live a life more and more pleasing to the Saviour. Neither were his resolutions all made at one time, but rather they reflected his increasing convictions through his life of his duties and responsibilities before God.
    I don't have time to go into it all now, but I strongly recommend setting Emmet Fox's writings aside if you are truly seeking to know the God of the Bible as He is revealed in the Word of God. (Or, even better just throw them out). Fox was a 'New-Ager' before the term was coined, and basically taught a salvation from within, not from looking away from ourselves and to Jesus Christ ALONE.
    He grossly misrepresented the teachings of Jesus Christ, and taught that we can communicate with the dead and that they can "help us".
    Fox was a false teacher who taught a false gospel and proclaimed a false Christ.
    "Neither is there salvation in any other: (i.e. Jesus Christ) for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12)

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  3. One slight worry I had about joining a Christian website was the factionalism I have noted in other places... I cannot comment properly on Emmet Fox vs. "the others" as I am not up to date on modern Christian thought, not even close.

    OK, message received re Edwards' resolutions (making life more pleasing to our Savior vs. making himself better), my own evolution in thinking is still at an early stage.

    My interpretation of Fox in "The Sermon on the Mount" rang rather true with me: namely that the literal words of Jesus (for me) are very hard to interpret as is. I always had trouble with even the Parables, which one would think would be clear as day...

    Fox seems, here anyway, to be saying that truthful prayer and seeing God everywhere and in everything is extremely powerful. Seeing God in everybody helped calm me JUST TONIGHT! Prayer has helped ME get back on track... I am just going on my own personal experience here. Fox also has, well, contempt might be too strong a word, for much of organized religion, especially rituals and insistence by each branch that "theirs" is the only legitimate interpretation of what God & Jesus have taught. Organized religion left me cold (Episcopalian when I was a kid).

    Fox also alerts me to the danger of Pride, a trap I could see myself falling into (over and over...).

    Without doubt my religious education needs are great. But, I am not dismissive of Fox, as much of what I have read so far rings true to me. Fox also parallels some of the reading from the Twelve Steps, these guys (AA et al) have a lot of years of experience and a lot of credibility even if the "lowest" figures are used (only 10% of AAs make it clean over the long haul), that 10% figure comes from critics of AA.

    I'll get to the Bible soon. I tried to tackle Matthew two years or so ago, I read it, but the pieces did not fall into place. So, I tried Revelation to see if any would as well. Nope. The basics. Revelation must be a "graduate-level course".

    So, for this sinner, I count any progress re saving my soul as PROGRESS. I'll worry about details as I encounter them along the way. It is all in God's hands, I placed my life under His care at Step Three. I am just concerned with praying for (and acting upon receipt of) guidance and wisdom (Fox) / awareness and strength at a crossroads (my words). And other than passing along thanks, I try to limit my prayers to just that (that is different from before).

    Reply
  4. admin

    Post author

    Your comments deserve much more than a hasty answer which is all I would be able to do today. I'd like to get back to you and deal with the points you have raised, as they are important and extremely pertinent to the subject before us.
    I may actually give some of my response in new posts rather than replies here, so as to deal with your topics. You've given me 'food for thought' as to direction and content for future posts and I look forward to further discussion!
    Until then, I would suggest you undertake a careful and prayerful reading of the Gospel of John. It was written with the express purpose of revealing Jesus Christ as our only hope of salvation so that we might believe in Him.
    John says, "these (the words and deeds of Jesus Christ recorded in his book), are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name" (John 20:31)
    I will be praying for you!

    Reply
  5. Robert Mix

    Food for thought is always good. Send me an email from time-to-time to remind me to come back!

    Thank you for your prayer. I will do the same, but ol' Emmet sez: pray for for 'em all! Even the ones you dislike or who hassle you, Jesus says similar IIRC.

    I should have mentioned that another recovering AA gave me the book (and I don't even know him personally (a "virtual friend" -- like you are becoming), I had sent him a FICTION book because I thought it would entertain him (part of it takes place in The Philippines -- his wife came from there), and he sends me a (good) bomb... I have not read anything else by Emmet Fox, and obviously I had never heard of him before. Nor have I read ANYTHING by ANY Christian writer, at least lately.

    Best to you and yours in this New Year!

    Reply
  6. Resolutions to maintain a godly perspective in life generally come through personal introspection. Through the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we come to better understand our spiritual weaknesses, confess them and entreat the Lord to give us victory. Edward's resolves are undoubtedly a sincere means of tackling the ongoing battles with the flesh; yet "resolving" by itself only gives clarity to one's present weakness. Any such resolves must also indicate what steps and exercises are to be taken in order to overcome these personal difficulties. Edwards has indeed, listed certain things he will do e.g. #48. But in a few cases he doesn't e.g. #49.

    We struggle with the "old man" all our days. To be sure, some of the resolves we make to walk holy before God will meet with huge disappointment. The most important aspect of holy living is to confess those shortcomings as they occur i.e. to keep short accounts with God and receive the cleansing power of the blood, putting behind us forever our particular failures that have been confessed and repented of as per 1 John 1:6-9. There is no such thing as sinless perfection this side of the grave. The aforementioned verses should make us certain of that fact. But the "perfect" (or complete) Christian is the saint who goes to his knees immediately upon sinning or doing anything he perceives could move him toward sin.

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