“The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards”—Book review

Wednesday, Jan. 2 ...Our resolutions may be at the highest one day, and yet, the next day, we may be in a miserable dead condition, not at all like the same person who resolved.

So that it is to no purpose to resolve, except we depend on the grace of God.

For, if it were not for His mere grace, one might be a very good man one day, and a very wicked one the next.
   ~ JONATHAN EDWARDS

Are you thinking about two or three New Year resolutions yet?

the_unwavering_resolve_of_jonathan_edwardsWhat about 70 resolutions???

Oh my. That’s what Jonathan Edwards did. And not just resolutions for one year, but for his whole life. (Read all 70.)

Why?
Because he was passionate about pursuing holiness for the glory of God.

And in reading this semi-biography about him by Steven J. Lawson, I’m more motivated about it, too.

While The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards tells little about this eighteenth-century pastor’s life, it reveals much about his spirituality.

Edwards was in his teens in 1722 when he began these Resolutions to help him stay focused on living for God’s glory. He begins with:

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, 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 myriad’s 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 difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.

He wrote prolifically in short spurts and in long reflections. He prayed, he preached, he was disciplined, but above all, he depended on God’s grace to keep his Resolutions.

These diverse disciplines—Bible study, theological reading, meditation, prayer, and singing—worked hand in hand, the one supporting the other, in Edwards’ pursuit of holiness. These religious duties helped Edwards maintain a vibrant communion with God. His theology led to doxology.
  
~ STEPHEN J. LAWSON

Lawson does an excellent job in helping us understand how deeply humble and committed Edwards was to advancing the glory of God in Christ in everything. He breaks the Resolutions into natural groupings and gives us enough background of Edward’s heart so we can better appreciate him.

Jonathan Edwards believed that as surely as night follows day and summer follows spring, his Christian duty to love others flowed out of his fervent love for God.

These affections—love for God and for others—are bound together. The more one’s devotion to God deepens, the more he will pursue the scriptural commands to abound in love toward his fellow men.

Edwards realized that, in Christ, he owed a debt of love that he must repay.

To ensure that he kept his spiritual priorities, Edwards also resolved to read over the Resolutions once a week for the rest of his life. We have much to admire in his Puritan work ethic.

In his concluding chapter, Lawson writes:

Jonathan Edwards lived with one driving passion: soli Deo gloria—for the glory of God alone. His master purpose in all things, his overarching aim in all of life, was to bring honor and majesty to the name of God.

He desired to exalt the greatness of God with every breath he drew and with every step he took. Every thought, every attitude, every choice, and every undertaking must be for the glory of God.

Each of Edwards’ seventy resolutions was centered on this supreme passion for God’s honor.

I was personally challenged and convicted by learning more about Edwards and his Resolutions. I look forward to reading more from him in the year to come (“Read more biographies” is one of my 2012 resolutions), and possibly reading more in the series from which this book originated, “The Long Line of Godly Men Profiles.”

* * *

Who is one of your heroes of the faith?

My thanks to Ligonier Ministries for this review copy.

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