America’s greatest theologian was Jonathan Edwards. Edwards’ preaching and theological writings still have a strong influence on today’s church. Recently, some of our pastors were fortunate to attend an ‘Expositor’s Conference’ in Mobile that taught about the lives of some of the reformers and puritans. Edwards, an 18th Century Puritan, was the focus of one of our sessions.
I thought it would be beneficial to share some of the influences on Edwards’ life that shaped Him into a man that was ‘God-enthralled’ in all that he did. We all certainly want to be motivated by the ‘glory of God’ the way that Jonathan Edwards was.
Edwards was a remarkable thinker who was proficient in handling the Scriptures. Both his father and his grandfather pastored for nearly sixty years each. So Edwards grew up being trained in the scriptures, the Westminster Shorter Catechism and reformed theology. What a joy it is for us, as parents and grandparents, to be able to train our children in similar catechisms which are foundational to understanding biblical doctrine. Take full advantage of faithfully teaching and reviewing the catechisms with your children at home.
Edwards received the finest classical education in college and came to Christ at the age of seventeen.
While finishing his master’s degree, young Edwards pastored a small church in New York City. It was during this formative time that God began to confirm the call for Edwards’ life. Dr. Steve Lawson tells us, “When Edwards was eighteen years old, having been recently converted, he determined to pursue and promote the glory of God with his entire being.” Lawson writes of Edwards life in The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards. During the 1722-23 timeframe, Edwards began writing what is known as his ‘Resolutions.’ Now these were not the type of resolutions that we commonly make on New Years Day. These ‘resolutions’ were more of a personal mission statement that would be the compass for his soul. These resolutions were not merely a spiritual list of ‘do’s and don’ts.’ Rather these resolved statements, derived from the scripture and even the catechisms, would be a guide in his pursuit of godliness.
Some of the major categories of these resolutions are ‘pursuing the glory of God’, ‘forsaking sin’ and ‘living with all his being for the Lord’, among others. Here are some pieces of Jonathan Edwards resolutions:
‘Pursuing the Glory of God’
• to ‘do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory’ (number 1)
• ‘never willfully to omit anything, except the omission be for the glory of God’ (number 27)
• ‘Resolved, 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.’ (number 24)
• ‘never to give over…(in) my fight with my corruptions’ (number 56)
• ‘to confess frankly to myself … [and] to God’ all sin within (number 68)
Living with All His Being for the Lord
• ‘to live with all my might, while I do live’ (number 6)
• ‘study the Scriptures…steadily, constantly and frequently’ (number 28)
Edwards wrote that if there was ‘one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian,’ he would strive ‘to be that one, who should live in my time’ (number 63)
Can you hear the ‘single-mindedness’ of focus on growing in godliness that rings true from Edwards’ resolutions? Jonathan Edwards wanted only for God to be ‘glorified’ in every facet of his being and his life. I pray that this week as you work, study for tests, parent, eat, enjoy recreation and engage in a myriad of activities, let your single focus be to pursue the ‘glory of God’ in all things. Paul wrote it this way, ‘For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.’
(*Resolutions taken from The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards by: Dr. Steven J. Lawson)