The last few years I have drawn encouragement and inspiration from Jonathan Edwards' famous resolutions and advice to young converts. In case you aren't familiar with Edwards he is one of the greatest intellectuals in American history and many believe he is the greatest theologian produced in America. His influence upon the Great Awaking in the 18th century, his writings, his life, and his legacy all speak long after his death. Many of us read Sinners in the hands of an angry God in American History or American Lit., but this isolated sermon doesn't scratch the surface of the man.
He wrote 70 resolutions between 1722-1723 during a season of reflection early in his life and by them he set out parameters and guides to help him be the man he wanted to be. These are a few of his that should inspire eternally minded resolutions of our own. We shouldn't merely adopt these for ourselves, but seek to grasp the spirit in the man that would cause and spark such serious devotion. Resolutions by themselves are meaningless if they are not guiding us and directing us towards something eternal. The spirit of Christ is our greatest need and in him do we find ultimate fulfillment of life.
Read these slowly.
6) Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
7) Resolved, never to do anything that I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.
10) Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom and of hell.
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.
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.
28) Resolved, to study the scriptures so steadily constantly, and frequently that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of them.
29) Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer or 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.
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.
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.
55) Resolved, to endeavor to my upmost to act as I can think I should do if I had already seen the happiness of heaven and the torments of hell.
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.
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.
There are many lessons to learn from Edwards, but these stick out to me most right now: Get a vision of the God-man and live in a way that reflects true faith in Christ and eternal life through him. Too many in old age have regrets about what they wish they had done and too many young men and women are earning future regret for themselves piddling away with video games, tv, and fashion. Young men play video games and fool around with sin because they have no vision or purpose; they have no boundaries, no strategy, and no plan to make their lives count. They will be utterly forgotten and just as Satan earnestly desires they will do nothing to impact those around them with the gospel.
As my own years tick by I feel one thing burning in me, that my life would count for eternity, that my life would truly bring honor to Christ. There is nothing else of value and there is nothing else more worthy of pouring ourselves out for. Spend your limited energy on the unlimited joys of eternity, exhaust yourself on the inexhaustible pleasure of Christ's presence.
May God rescue American Christian men from the pitiful state of existence that many of them are living in and awaken us to become disciplined followers of Christ. May we be resolved to get a vision of Christ, to obey him, and to make our lives count for eternity.
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. - 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. - Romans 8:5-6
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. - 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
1. Johnathan Edwards' Resolutions And Advice to Young Converts edited by Stephen J. Nichols pp. 17-26