Young Jonathan Edwards wanted to be a man of God. As a young Christian, he made holiness his goal. First as a teenage student, then later at Yale and finally as a young man living in New York City, he carefully compiled a list of seventy resolutions which would be the formative principles of his life, to be lived by the grace of God. He sought to focus all of his energy and thought, work and leisure time to the glory of God. His resolutions, or personal list of “resolves”, were to be reviewed each week. By the time he was twenty, he had compiled the following list of 36 resolutions. =====================================================================
“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.
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 life; Resolved, to do what-ever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved, to do these things, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many they are, and how great they are.
2. Resolved, To be continually endeavoring to find out some new means and ways of procedure to promote the above mentioned things (# 1 above).
3. Resolved, If ever I shall fall (into sin) and grow dull (in heart), so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when once I come to myself again.
4. Resolved, Never to do anything, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God, nor be anything nor allow anything that does not tend toward the glory of God 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 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 the occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.
9. Resolved, To think much on all occasions, of my dying, and of the common circumstances, which attend to all men’s deaths.
10. Resolved, When I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.
11. Resolved, When I think of any problem in theology to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances do not hinder.
12. Resolved, If I take delight in it (i.e. solving the problem in theology) as a gratification of my pride, or vanity, or on any such similar account, immediately to throw it away.
13. Resolved, To be endeavoring to find out fit recipients of my liberal giving and love.
14. Resolved, Never to do anything out of revenge.
15. Resolved, Never to suffer the least motions of anger towards irrational beings (i.e. animals).
16. Resolved, Never to speak evil of anyone, so that is 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 lived, when I come to die.
18. Resolved, To live so, at all times, as I think is best in my most devout frames of mind, and when I have the clearest understanding of the 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 be above an hour before I should hear the last trumpet.
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 it a just reason to despise him for it, or to think in any way the more meanly of him.
22. Resolved, To endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness in the other world as I possible can, with all the power, might, vigor, and vehemence, yes, even struggle, that 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 repudiate 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 cause of it.
25. Resolved, To examine carefully and constantly, what that one thing in me, which causes me in the least to doubt the love of God; and so direct all my forces against it.
26. Resolved, To cast away such things as I find hinder my assurance of salvation.
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 recognize 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 sincere 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 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 examine it strictly by the test of this rule.
32. Resolved, To be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that the principle of Proverbs 20:6–“A faithful man, who can find?” may not be only partly fulfilled in me but fully.
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.
34. Resolved, In speaking never to speak anything but the pure and simple truth.
35. Resolved, Whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to mark that and then later note how the problem was resolved.
36. Resolved, To inquire every night, as I am going to bed, whether I have been negligent –what sin I have committed and whether I have denied myself–also at the end of every week, month, and year.