« PreviousContinue »
0. October 8, 1703d. March 22, 1758. This eminent divine and metaphysician, after his graduation at Yale College in September, 1720, before the completion of his seventeenth year, spent nearly two years at New Haven preparing himself for the work of the ministry, and from August, 1722, preached with great acceptance in New York for eight months, when he returned to his father's house in Windsor, in April, 1723. During this period he formed a series of resolutions to the number of seventy to regulate his own heart and life. These resolutions were plainly intended solely for his own eye and guidance, and were published for the first time by his biographer, Rev. Sereno Edwards Dwight, D.D., in the collected edition of his works in 1829. From this biography we reproduce them, omitting the formal Resolved which preceeds in the original the substance of each resolution. The first twenty-one were written at once, with the same pen; as were the next ten at a subsequent sitting--and up to thirty-four were written before Dec. 18, *1722. The particular time and occasion of making the rest are mentioned in his Diary. The last was written in August, 1723.
RESOLUTIONS. 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.
Remember to Read Over these Resolutions Once a Week. 1. Resolved, That I will do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of God and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration; without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved, so to do, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever.
2. To be continually endeavoring to find out some 'new contrivance, and invention, to promote the fore-mentioned things.
3. If ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember when I come to myself again.
4. Never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God, nor be, nor
suffer it, if I can possibly avoid it.
5. Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can.
6. To live with all my might, while I do live. 7. Never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life,
8. To act in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings pro mote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God. Vid. July 30,
9. To think much on, all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death. 10. When I feel pain, to think of the pains of Martyrdom and of Hell.
11. When I think of any Theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances do not hinder
12. If I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by. 13. To be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality. 14. Never do anything out of revenge.
15. Never to suffer the least motions of anger towards irrational beings.
16. Never to speak evil of any one, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less upon no account except for some real good.
17. That I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die. 18. To live so at all times as I think is best in my most devout frames, and when I have the clearest notions of the things of the Gospel and another world.
19. Never to do anything 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. To maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking:
21. Never to do anything 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.
22. 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. Frequently to take some deliberate action which seems most unlikely to be done for the glory of God, and tráce it back to the original intention, dosigns and ends of it, and if I find it not to be for God's glory to repute it as a breach of the fourth Resolution.
4. 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. 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.
28. To cast away such things as I find do abate my assurance.
37. Never wilfully to omit anything except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions.
28. 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. 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. To strive, every week, to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace than I was the week before.
31. Never to say anything at all against anybody, 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 any one to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution.
32. To be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that, in Prov. , 6, A faithful man, who can find ? may not be partly fulfilled in me.
33. To do always what I can towards making, maintaining and preserving peace, when it can be done without an overbalancing detriment in other respects. Dec. 26, 1722.
34. In narrations never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity.
35. 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. Never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call to it. Dec. 19, 1722.
37. To enquire every night, as I am going to bed, Wherein I have been negligent; what sin I have committed; and wherein I have denied myself;also, at the end of every week, month and year. Dec. 22 and 26, 1722.
38. Never to utter anything that is sportive, or matter of laughter, on a Lord's day. Sabbath evening, Dec. 23, 1722.
39. Never to do anything of which I so much question the lawfulness, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or not; unless I as much question the lawfulness of the omission.
40. To enquire every night before I go to bed whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking. Jan. 7, 1723.
41. To ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better. Jan. 11, 1723.
42. Frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God which was made at my baptism, which I solemnly renewed when I was received into the communion of the church, and which I have solemnly re-made this 12th day of January, 1723.
43. Never, henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own,
but entirely and altogether God's; agreeably to what is to be found in Saturday, Jan. 12th. Jan. 12th, 1723.
44." That no other end but religion shall have any influence at all on any of my actions, and that no action shall be, in the least circumstance, any otherwise than the religious end will carry it. Jan. 12, 1723.
45. Never to allow any pleasure or grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affection at all, nor any degree of affection, nor any circumstance relating to it, but what helps Religion. Jan. 12 and 13, 1723.
46. Never to allow the least measure of any fretting or uneasiness at my father or mother. To suffer no effects of it so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eye; and to be especially careful of it with respect to any of our family.
47. To endeavor to my utmost to deny, whatever is not most agreeable to a good and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peaceable, contented and easy, compassionate and generous, humble and meek, submissive and obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable and even, patient, moderate, forgiving and sincere, temper; and to do at all times what such a temper would lead me to; and to examine strictly at the end of every week whether I have so done. Sabbath morning, May 5, 1723.
48. Constantly with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or not; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of. May 28, 1723.
49. That this never shall be, if I can help it.
50. That I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world. July 5, 1723.
51. That I will act so in every respect as I think I shall wish I had done, if I should at last be damned. July 8, 1923.
52. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again. That I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done supposing I live to old age. July 8, 1723.
53. To improve every opportunity when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind to cast venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer. July 8, 1723.
54. Whenever I hear anything spoken in commendation of any person, if I think it would be praiseworthy in me, that I will endeavor to imitato it. July 8, 1723.
55. To endeavor to my utmost so to act as I can think I should do if I had already seen the happiness of Heaven, and Hell torments. July 8, 1723.
56. Never to give over, nor in the least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.
67. 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. June 9, and July 13, 1723.
58. Not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness and benignity. May 27, and July 13, 1723.
52. When I am most conscious of provocations to ill-nature and anger that I will strive most to feel and act good-naturedly; yea, at such times, to manifest good nature, though I think that in other respects it would be disadvantageous, and so as would be imprudent at other times. May 12, July 11, and July 13.
68. Whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination., July 4 and 13, 1723.
61. That I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it—that what my listlessness inclines me to do is best to be done, &c. May 21, and July 13, 1723.
62. Never to do anything but my duty, and then according to Eph. vi. 6-8, to do it willingly and cheerfully, as unto the Lord and not to man; knowing that whatever good thing any man doth the same shall he receive of the Lord. June 25, and July 13, 1723.
63. On the supposition that there never was to be but one individual in the world at any one time who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true lustre, and appearing excellent and lovely from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: To act just as I would do if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time. Jan. 14, and July 13, 1723.
64., When I find those "groanings which cannot be uttered," of which the Apostle speaks, and those breakings of soul for the longing it bath,” of which the Psalmist speaks, Psalm, cxix. 20, That I will promote them to the utmost of my power, and that I will not be weary of earnestly endeavoring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness. July 23, and August 10, 1723.
65. Very much to exercise myself in this all my life 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 everything, and every circumstance, according to Dr. Manton's Sermon on the 119th Psalm. July 26, and Aug. 10, 1723.
66. That I will endeavor always to keep a benign aspect, and air of acting and speaking in all places, and in all companies, except it should so happen that duty requires otherwise.
67. After afflictions to enquire, What I am the better for them; What good I have got by them; and, What I might have got by them.
68. To confess frankly to myself all that which I find in myself, either infirmity or sin; and, if it be what concerns religion, also to confess the whole case to God, and implore needed help: July 23, and Aug. 10, 1723.
69. Always to do that which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it. Aug. 11, 1723. 70. Let there be something of benevolence in all that I speak. Aug. 17, 1723.
His biographer remarks: "Those who have read the preceding Resolutions will not need to be apprised that they discover in the writer a knowledge of his own heart, of the human character, and of the secret springs of human action, as well as a purity, conscientiousness and evangelical integrity, very rarely found in an individual. His obvious intention and rule was, to refer every voluntary action, and every course of conduct, habitually and imme diately to the eye of Omniscience; to live as always surrounded by His presence; and to value nothing in comparison with His approbation, and, what of course accompanied it, that of his own conscience. At this early period he had begun to remember that he was immortal, that he was soon to enter on a stage of existence and action incomparably more expanded and dignified than the present, and that nothing here had any ultimate importance, except as it had a beiring on his own welfare and that of others in that nobler state of being. These Resolutions are, perhaps, to persons of every age, but especially to the young, the best uninspired summary of Christian duty, the best directory to high attainments in evangelical virtue, which the mind of man has hitherto been able to form. They are, also, in the highest degree interesting, as disclosing the writer's own character; and no one will wonder that the youth, who, in his nineteenth year, could, in the presence of God, deliberately and solemnly form the first Resolution:—'Resolved, That I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory and my own good, profit and pleasure, ON THE WHOLE; without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence; to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general-whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever;'-should have attained to an elevation and energy of virtue rarely witnessed in this fallen world.”
STEAL NOT THE TIME AND PROPERTY OF OTHERS. There are many ways in which persons may unjustly usurp their neighbor's property, by withholding what is his due; but I shall particularize only two:
1. Their unfaithfulness in not fulfilling engagements. Ordinarily, when men promise anything to their neighbor, or enter into engagements, by undertaking any business with which their neighbor instrusts them, their engagements invest that neighbor with a right to that which is engaged; so that if they withhold it, they usurp that which belongs to their neighbor. So it is when men break their promises, because they ind them to be inconvenient, and they can not fulfill them without difficulty and trouble; or merely because they have altered their minds since they promised. They think they have not consulted their own interests in the promise which they have made, and that if they had considered the matter as much before they promised, as they have since, they should not have promised. Therefore they take the liberty to set their own promises aside. Besides, sometimes persons violate this command, by neglecting to fulfill their engagements, through a careless, negligent spirit.
They violate this command, in withholding what belongs to their neighbor, when they are not faithful in any business which they have undertaken to do for their neighbor. If their neighbor has hired them to labor for him for a certain time, and they be not careful well to husband the time; if they be hired to day's labor, and be not careful to improve the day, as they have reason to think he who hired them justly expected of them; or if they be hired to accomplish such a piece of work, and be not careful to do it well, but do it slightly, do it not as if it were for themselves, or as they would have others do for them, when they in like manner intrust them with any business of theirs; or if they be intrusted with any particular affair, which they undertake, but use not that care, contrivance, and diligence, to manage it so as will be to the advantage of him who intrusts them, and as they would manage it, or would insist that it should be managed, if the affair were their own; in all these cases they unjustly withhold what belongs to their neighbor.
2. Another way in which men unjustly withhold what is their neighbor's, is in neglecting to pay their debts. Sometimes this happens, because they run so far into debt that they can not reasonably hope to be able to pay their debts; and this they do, either through pride and affectation of living above their circumstances; or through a grasping, covetous disposition, or some other corrupt principle. Sometimes they neglect to pay their debts from carelessness of spirit about it, little concerning themselves whether they are paid or not, taking no care to go to their creditors, or to send to him; and if they see him from time to time, they say and do nothing about their debts, because it would put them to some inconvenience. The reason why they do it not, is not because they can not do it, but because they can not do it so conveniently as they desire; and so they rather choose to put their creditor to inconvenience by being without what properly belongs to him, than to put themselves to inconvenience by being without what doth not belong to them, and what they have no right to detain. In any of these cases, they unjustly usurp the property of their neighbor.
Sometimes persons have that by them with which they could pay their debts if they would; but they want to lay out their money for something else, to buy gay clothing for their children, or to advance their estates, or for some such end. They have other designs in hand, which must fail, if they pay their debts. When men thus withhold what is due, they unjustly usurp what is not their own. Sometimes they neglect to pay their debts, and their excuse for it is, that their creditor doth not need it; that he hath a plentiful estate, and can well bear to lio out of his money. But if the creditor be ever so rich, that gives no right to the debtor to withhold from him that which belongs to him. If it be due, it ought to be paid; for that is the very notion of its being due. It is no more lawful to withhold from a man what is his due, without his consent, because he is rich and able to do without it, than it is lawful to steal from a man because he is rich and able to bear the loss.-Edwards' Sermons.