On Jonathan Edwards’ Resolutions and the Life of Virtue

On Jonathan Edwards’ Resolutions and the Life of Virtue

Posted on:Oct 23 2007
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Jonathan Edwards forged 70 resolutions. I fear that I could not remember 70 resolutions, much less purposely keep them. It seems more important to distill this list into essential principles.

Some have argued that all virtues can be reduced to one. This certainly simplifies the task of remembering, if not the task of applying. But one runs the risk of oversimplifying the process of virtue, oversimplifying it in the sense that one may not be able to recognize the appropriate response in a situation that calls for an intense application of virtue.

On the other hand it seems in almost every case the essential principles of love clarify what is required of a man’s actions.

It is most interesting to note that on Wednesday, January 2, 1722, in the diary of Edwards, he confesses, “I find, by experience, that let me make resolutions, and do what I will, with never so many inventions, it is all nothing, and no purpose at all, without the motions of the Spirit of God; for the Spirit of God should be as much withdrawn from me always, as for the weak pass, not withstanding all I do, I should not grow, but should languish, and miserably fade away.”

Edwards has almost as many commas in that long sentence as he does resolutions. I think he could do with less of both.

I need to conduct a purge of my writings and conjectures, etc. There is a sense of starting again at forty. By some measure of grace, I have been able to restrain myself from publishing.

During these early formative times in my life I have been and still am so unqualified to render an opinion.

I am most concerned over my recorded messages. I know they are so full of errors; I am embarrassed but it is what it is, and I cannot take back what I have said.

I need to meditate on the concept of waking up each day to discover what God is doing. Instead of executing my plan I need to discover his. I have prayed about this for 15 years but somehow there is more than I have understood. It is one thing to say the words as you begin the day; it is another thing to be conscious of the principle as you walk out the day.

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