My sister-in-law sent me an e-mail the other day. In it she included three or four of the life resolutions that Jonathan Edwards had written. They were compelling and I found myself searching for the book that contained them. What I found was a small book written in 1723 by 20 year-old Edwards containing 70 life resolutions. His goal was to read over the resolutions once each week. No sowing wild oats for him. No wasting time on the pursuits of most 20 year-olds. Here was a young man who took his spiritual life very, very seriously. Here are several of the resolutions that gave me cause for thought–
Resolution 7 Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
Resolution 15 Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings.
Resolution 20 Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.
Resolution 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.
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 endeavour to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might.
Resolution 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.
Resolution 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.
Resolution 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.
Resolution 34 Resolved, in narrations never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity.
Resolution 36 Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it.
Resolution 37 Resolved, to enquire 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.
Resolution 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.
Resolution 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.
Resolution 56 Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.
Resolution 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.
Resolution 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.
Resolution 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.
Edwards, Jonathan (2012-04-16). The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards. Counted Faithful. Kindle Edition.