This is the time of year many of us make New Year's Resolutions. Since 'the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever', it makes sense for our new year's resolutions to focus on bringing God glory. Getting a gym membership, losing 10 pounds, eating more kale, reading the Bible more, swearing less, and so on, can all certainly be God-glorifying. By reading Edwards' 70 resolutions you will see a great deal of examples that focus on bringing God glory in all of life.
A puritan (a group of English Protestants in the 16th-17th century who sought the reformation and purity of the church) by the name of Jonathan Edwards wrote the following resolutions in his diary over the span of a couple years in 1722-23. He is best known for his writing (most famous of which is Religious Affections) and his preaching, which God used mightily in the First Great Awakening (a revival in America in the eighteen century), and most famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God.
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.
- Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory and to 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 to do this, whatever the difficulties I meet with, how ever so many and how ever so great.
- Resolved, to be continually endeavouring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the forementioned things.
- Resolved, 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.
Resolved, 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.
- Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.
- Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
- Resolved, never to do anything that I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.
- Resolved, 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 to let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.
- Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.
- Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom and of hell.
- Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can toward solving it, if circumstances don't hinder.
- Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride or vanity or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.
Resolved, to be endeavouring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.
- Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge.
- Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings.
- Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonour, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.
Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
- Resolved, to live so at all times as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel and another world.
- Resolved, never to do anything that I should be afraid to do if I expected it would not be above an hour before I should hear the last trump.
- Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.
- Resolved, never to do anything that, if I should see it in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or think any way the more meanly of him.
- Resolved, to endeavour to obtain for myself as much happiness in the other world as I possibly can, with al the power, might, visor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.
- Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action that seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intentions, designs, and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God's glory, to repute it as a breach of the 4th resolution.
- Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, trace it back till I come to the original cause; and then both carefully endeavour to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.
Resolved, to examine carefully and constantly what that one thing in me is that causes me in the least to doubt the love of God; and so direct all my forces against it.
- Resolved, to cast away such things as I find do abate my assurance.
- Resolved, never willfully to omit anything unless the omission is for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions.
Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly, and frequently that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of them.
- Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer or 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.
- Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.
- Resolved, never to say anything at all against anybody, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honour and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility and a sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the Golden Rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by, the test of this resolution.
Resolved, to be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that in Proverbs 20:6, "A faithful man who can find?" may not be partly fulfilled in me.
- Resolved, always to do what I can towards making, maintaining, and preserving peace, when it can be without over-balancing detriment in other respects.
- Resolved, in narrations never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity.
- Resolved, whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved.
Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it.
- Resolved, to inquire 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 to inquire so at the end of every week, month, and year.
- Resolved, never to speak anything that is sportive or a matter of laughter on the Lord's day.
- Resolved, never to do anything that I so much question the lawfulness of, 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.
- Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking.
- Resolved, to ask myself at the end of every day, week, month, and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better.
- Resolved, 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 remade this 12th day of January, 1723.
- Resolved never henceforward till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but to act entirely and altogether as God's.
- Resolved, 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.
Resolved, 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.
- Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved 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.
- Resolved, to endeavour to my utmost to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a tempter that is 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; and to do at all times what such a temper would lead me to. Examine strictly every week, whether I have done so.
- Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence and with 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.
- Resolved, that this never shall be, if I can help it.
- Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best and most prudent when I come into the future world.
- Resolved, that I will act so, in every respect, as I think I shall wish I had done if I should at last be damned.
- 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.
- Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and 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, know that I confide in my Redeemer.
Whenever I hear anything spoken in commendation of any person, if I think it would be praiseworthy in me, resolved to endeavour to imitate it.
- Resolved, to endeavour to my utmost to act as I can think I should do if I had already seen the happiness of heaven and the torments of hell.
- Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.
- Resolved, when I fear misfortunes and adversities, to examine whether I have done my duty, and resolve to do it; and let it be just as Providence orders it. I will, as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty and my sin.
- Resolved, not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness, and benignity.
- Resolved, 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.
- Resolved, 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.
- Resolved, that I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it—that what my listlessness inclines me to do is best to be done, etc.
- Resolved, never to do anything but duty; and then according to Ephesians 6:6-8, do it willingly and cheerfully "as unto the Lord, and not to man; knowing that whatever good thing any man does, the same shall he receive of the Lord."
- 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 cluster, and appearing excellent and lovely from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, to act just as I would if I strove with all my might to be that one who should live in my time.
- Resolved, when I find those "groanings which cannot be uttered" of which the Apostle speaks and those "breakings of soul for the longing it has" of which the Psalmist speaks, Psalm 119:20, that I will promote them to the utmost of my power, and that I will not be weary of earnestly endeavouring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness.
- Resolved, very much to exercise myself in this all my life long, that is, with the greatest openness I am capable of, 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.
- Resolved, that I will endeavour 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.
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.
- Resolved, 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 to implore needed help.
- Resolved, always to do that which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it.
- Let there be something of benevolence in all that I speak.
This list of resolutions was edited by Stephen J. Nichols in, Jonathan Edwards' Resolutions And Advice To Young Converts.