Last year around this time, I wrote an article on resolutions in which I encouraged us to consider making resolutions of a spiritual slant. I offered a few of Jonathan Edwards’ 70 resolutions that he wrote while a 19-year-old pastor. This year I want to offer the first one again and then draw it out. It’s in 18th century language, so keep that in mind. I have put in bold those phrases I think to be key.
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.
This, possibly a little differently worded, ought to be the overarching drive for every one of us. Let’s break it down into smaller phrases.
The glory of God
Edwards starts with the glory of God. He does this because this is where the entire story of creation starts. We are all created for God’s glory. God tells us so.
Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, and whom I have created for my glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made. (Isaiah 43:6-7)
It’s clear—we have breath and life we eat and drink and walk and think and speak and sleep and work and play and love and feel in order to bring glory to God. From person to person it will look different how we bring glory to God, but we are to be resolved to do so.
My own good, profit and pleasure
God’s glory will make us happy. We do not have to live for the glory of God or our good, profit and pleasure. That which glorifies Godwill be our highest good, profit and pleasure. It will bring us to most joy. The first question of the Westminster Catechism asks “What is the chief end of man?” And the answer is this: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” Glorify and enjoy. We are created to glorify God and enjoy Him. John Piper puts the connection this way: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” When we pursue His glory, we are pursuing our joy.
The good and advantage of mankind
The greatest commandments are to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. To love God means to live for His glory by enjoying Him, and to love our neighbor means to do what is to their good and advantage. It means that we put ourselves in their place and do to them what we would have done for us. This naturally flows from a life lived in pursuit of the glory of God.
Thus a simple summary statement of Edwards’ foremost resolution would be this:
I resolve to live for the glory of God by enjoying Him most and loving others as myself no matter what it takes.
Let this be your life resolution.