Been reading (or rather skimming through) Jonathan Edwards’ Basic Writings lately. During his college years, Edwards made a gradual list of 70 resolutions to guide his life, and vowed to read over them once a week. A few of them stood out to me:

“6. Resolved, To live with all my might, while I do live.

7. Resolved, Never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

28. Resolved, To study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in knowledge of the same.

29. Resolved, Never to count that as a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, not 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.

56. Resolved, Never to give over, nor in the least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.

57. Resolved, When I fear misfortunes and adversity, to examine whether I have done my duty, and resolve to do it, and let the event be just as Providence orders it. I will, as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty, and my sin.

65. Resolved, Very much to exercise myself in this, all my long, viz. With the greatest openness, of which I am capable, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to him, all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and every thing, and every circumstance

70. Let there be something of benevolence in all I speak.”

Elsewhere, in his Diary a bit of practical advice on prayer he recorded for himself stood out –

Sabbath, Nov 15. Determined, when I am indisposed to prayer, always to premeditate what to pray for; and that it is better, that the prayer should be of almost any shortness, than that my mind should be almost continually off what I say. ”

On the other hand, he occasionally says highly amusing things too.

“Jan 1728. I think Christ has recommended rising early in the morning, by his rising from the grave very early.”

Really, Edwards? 🙂 Little things like that underline how vast the gulf is between his century and ours.