Have you made your New Years’ Resolutions yet? If not, no pressure. Jonathan Edwards has done all the hard work for us.
For as I mentioned in my last post, he created a whole list of resolutions that are far more godly than any we could ever contrive. And like every good Puritan, he peppered his resolutions with phrases like “devout frames” and “henceforward” which only John Piper understands, and would take too much effort to text someone. So because I care for all our loyal readers I have selected a few of Edwards’ resolutions and added brief and helpful explanations which you need not be smarter than a fifth-grader to understand. Let’s pick up from last post…
11. Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances do not hinder.
You probably didn’t know that divinity had theorems. These theorems are sort of like physics problems, only spiritual, like, how did that donkey start talking anyway? Or how could Adam and Eve sew fig leaves together without needles and thread?
15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger towards irrational beings.
Jonathan Edwards must have owned dogs, which would explain why he’d be tempted to “suffer…motions of anger towards irrational beings.” I too am tempted to “suffer motions” when I leave the house for literally 60 seconds to get the mail, then come back in only to have our 2 dogs start barking insanely and running about in a frenzy like I’ve just come back from 6 months in Singapore.
Husbands, “irrational beings” does not include your wives. Do not go down that road.
19. Resolved, never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.
Contrary to popular belief, Edwards was not against card playing. What he means here is he wouldn’t do anything in any round he wouldn’t do on the last hand.
20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance, in eating and drinking.
I’m right with you, J.E. I will drink no more than 15 cups of coffee a day, and eat no more than half a dozen Krispy Kremes before lunch.
23. Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, 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.
I want to talk to my lawyer. I think this means that if I’m caught snowboarding, I must immediately pay off all my credit cards. Or something like that. This is what is called a “Puritan Conundrum.” It was an early form of Sudoku.
31. Resolved, never to say any thing at all against any body, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and 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.
This means don’t call anybody a “dufus” unless they deserve it.
33. Resolved, to do always, what I can towards making, maintaining, and preserving peace, when it can be done without overbalancing detriment in other respects.
This means whenever you can, make peace with people, unless you can give them a quick rabbit punch in the face. That’s what “when it can be done without overbalancing detriment in other respects” means in Puritan.
34. Resolved, in narrations never to speak any thing but the pure and simple verity.
This means when telling stories tell the truth. Puritans were fond of extra syllables, so instead of “stories,” they’d say “narrations,” and instead of “truth” substitute “pure and simple verity.” Using these words will win you friends in the office breakroom. Next time someone is telling you a story, say, “Bill, I appreciate your narration, but can you give me just the pure and simple verity?” If he asks you what that means, say, “It means, Bill, can you please shut your yapper?”
Well, we’ve only reached number 34 of Jonathan Edwards’ 70 Resolutions. Maybe we’ll take up the rest at a later time. But for now, I’ll close this narration, lest I overbalance my detriment.
photo: Me and Jonathan Edwards enjoying a hike together
Originally published Dec 30, 2009