Thursday, December 29, 2005

Making Resolutions? (4)

My wife, Cindy, took these photographs of the "Misson House" in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. This is one of the few remaining buildings from the time that Edwards ministered here to a small congregation of English settlers and Native Americans.

Jonathan Edwards' "Resolutions" (19-36)

19. Resolved, never to do any thing, 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 any thing, 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 one 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 any thing, 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 any thing at all against any body, 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 Proverbs 20:6,"A faithful man who can find?" may not be partly fulfilled in me.

33. Resolved, to do always, what I can towards making, maintaining, and preserving peace, when it can be done without overbalancing detriment in other respects. Dec. 26, 1722.

34. Resolved, in narrations never to speak any thing 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.


Anonymous said...

Did he mean by #20 that he never planned to feast? If so, that seems rather unbiblical. God's people have always had times of celebration (and times of fasting).

Bradford Mercer said...
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Bradford Mercer said...

I agree with you. Biblically, there is something very special about meals and feasting. This is something that C.S. Lewis (on many people's minds due to the Narnia craze) communicates effectively in his fiction. Edwards was far from perfect, but we need to be careful not to read our time back into his time. Edwards believed that one of his is primary callings was writing. He spent many hours reading and writing each day. He thought that by limiting his daily intake of food and drink he would be able to work longer and more efficiently. His eating and drinking habits gave him a somewhat thin, gaunt appearance. We certainly can learn from him, however, the importance of how we think about, and take of, our bodies.

Anonymous said...

Rev. Mercer,
Thanks for the reply. I'm sure I'd benefit from a bit less feasting and a bit more of Edwards-like temperance! (but maybe his wife wasn't as good a cook as mine is ;)