Welcome back to another episode of 5 Minutes in Church History. This is our last episode together in this year, as this week marks the end of 2021 and the beginning of a new year. Let’s return to our old friend, Jonathan Edwards, and his text, The Resolutions. He was eighteen, nineteen, twenty years old when he wrote this series of resolutions, seventy in all. He had already received his bachelor’s degree from Yale and was in what would be a brief pastorate in New York City. He had completed most of his master’s degree studies by now and was writing his master’s thesis. His whole life was in front of him. And here he was in 1722 and 1723 laying what would be his foundation for that life. He was forging one by one, the resolutions that he would live by. These Resolutions sprang from his diary writing. Puritans kept diaries as a window into their soul. They used these diaries to see where they were in their sanctification, to check their progress in growing in holiness. Edwards kept such a diary; and in the midst of writing entries in it, he also turned to writing resolutions.

Well, let’s take a look at some of them, but we must first begin with the preface. And I would encourage you not only to begin with the preface, but return to the preface, and maybe as you make resolutions, for you to return to Jonathan Edwards’ preface as well. In that preface he writes, “Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake.” I hope you see the two important things there. One is to live by grace. This is not moralism. This is not having these resolutions that we sort of pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and live by. This is God’s grace enabling and empowering us to do these things, to be resolved. And also notice he says, “So far as they are agreeable to God’s will.” He’s not assuming or presuming that what he wishes to do or resolves to do is in accord with God’s will, but he uses that as a check against himself.

Well, as these Resolutions proceed, he talks about all kinds of things. He talks about Scripture reading. Resolution number twenty-eight says, “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.” Well, we all recognize our need to be committed to Scripture, maybe recommitted to not just reading Scripture, but studying it and growing in it; and that was one of Edwards’ resolutions. He also talks about prayer. He says, “Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor 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.” That’s trusting in God and praying to him and putting our prayers at God’s feet, knowing that he will do his will and will do that which is good.

He has a number of resolutions that relate to our speech. Here’s a very short one, but oh, if we could only live this one every day. He says, “Resolved, in narrations never to speak anything but the pure and simple truth.” That was resolution number thirty-four. Well, as we make our way to the end of his Resolutions, there’s one more I want to draw our attention to. It’s number sixty-seven: “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.” He’s talking about suffering and adversity and difficulty, and in the midst of it asking, What can he learn? What is God trying to teach him? Well, we have no idea what the year ahead will bring, do we? It might bring adversity, and affliction, and suffering. And so maybe Edwards’ resolution will be helpful for you. Well, I hope you enjoy this time with our friend Jonathan Edwards and his Resolutions. And I’m Steve Nichols. Thanks for joining us for 5 Minutes in Church History, and I wish you a happy new year.