Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) was a colonial preacher and theologian– perhaps the greatest of all American theologians. As a young man (in 1722-23), he wrote 70 resolutions by which he hoped to live his life, resolving to read them every week. Here are a few.
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:
1. Resolved, that I will do whatever I think to be most to God’ s glory;… and whatever I think to be my duty, and for the most good and advantage of mankind in general; and to do this whatever the difficulties.
6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
7. Resolved, never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.
9. Resolved, to think of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.
13. Resolved, to endeavor to find out fit objects of charity.
14. Resolved, never to do any thing out of revenge.
15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger towards irrational beings.
16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone so that it shall tend to his dishonor, unless it would do some real good.
21. Resolved, never to do any thing, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think in any way the worse of him.
28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, that I may plainly perceive myself to grow in that knowledge.
31. Resolved, never to say any thing at all against anybody, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor and love; agreeable to the lowest humility, and to a sense of my own faults and failings; and agreeable to the golden rule.
33. Resolved, to do always what I can towards making and preserving peace, when it can be done without causing harm in other respects.
34. Resolved, never to speak any thing but the pure and simple truth.
46. Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother.
47. Resolved, to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a temper that is good and 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.
50. Resolved, I will act in such a way 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.
57. Resolved, when I fear misfortunes and adversities, to examine whether I have done my duty, and resolve to do it; and then, let the event be just as God orders it. I will, as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty and my sin.
58. Resolved, to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but rather to exhibit an air of love and cheerfulness.
59. Resolved, when I am most conscious of provocations to ill nature and anger, that I will strive most to feel and act good-naturedly.
65. Resolved, very much to exercise myself in this, all my life long; to declare my ways to God; and to lay open my soul to him– all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and every thing, and every circumstance.
66. Resolved, that I will endeavor always to keep a gentle demeanor in my actions and my speaking in all places, and in all companies, except it should so happen that duty requires otherwise.
67. Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire how I am the better for them, and what I might have learned by them.
Philippians 4:8-9 — Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable— if anything is excellent or praiseworthy— think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me— put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Galatians 5:22-23 — The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Psalm 51:1-2 — Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
Almighty God, since our minds have so many hidden recesses that nothing is more difficult than thoroughly to purge them from all pretense and lying, grant that we may honestly examine ourselves. Shine upon us the light of your Holy Spirit. May we truly acknowledge our hidden faults and put them far away from us, so that you may be our only God. May we conduct ourselves in the world with a pure conscience. And at last, may we be made partakers of that true glory which you have prepared for us in heaven, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
–John Calvin (1509-1564)