Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Resolutions... Edwardsean and Thabitian (1)

I've finally started reading The Life and Diary of David Brainerd. Actually, I've not yet reached the life and diary because this edition begins with a 40-page overview of Jonathan Edwards, who edited Brainerd's diary. I've not yet read the Marsden biography of Edwards, which I'm told is excellent. So, I decided to take a quick peak at this short overview of his life.

Now, I've read Edwards' resolutions a number of times... and each time I'm gripped by them. There is a great spiritual power and insightfulness that I can't shake. Of the 70 or so resolutions, I'm always pierced by a good two-dozen or so in any reading. And then I'm humbled all the more when I realize this was a teenage boy writing this stuff!! I see how unexamined and undisciplined my life is when I read these resolutions. I lack resolve on too many things that I perhaps think are inconsequential that Edwards reminds me are actually of great spiritual importance. Even the very use of the word "resolve" speaks to me of a substantial concreteness, such that when I hear the word I'm aware of my gooeyness. Yep. I need resolve.

So, I'm resolved to study Edwards' resolutions--not necessarily to blindly accept them as my own but to more intentionally use them as a window onto my own soul and as food for thought. I won't do a post on them all, but I thought the discipline of writing these things down might aid my resolve. And, I thought the prayers and comments of others might be of help to me and to others needing to live more resolute lives.

So, here goes. Edwards writes:
1. 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 myriad ages hence. Resolved, to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good of mankind in general. Resolved so to do, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever.

Okay... that's a three-fer. But I'm struck by the sweepingness of the statement: "do whatsoever," "my whole duration, without an consideration of time," "whatever difficulties... howmany soever, and how great soever."

Now if my excercise is more than lip service, keeping my heart far from the Lord, I can't just "amen" those statements. Without question, this is what the Lord of Hosts is entitled to; it's His due and my responsibility. No problems there.

The problem, if I'm honest, is in my heart. Maybe the absence of resolve is fundamentally a faint or cowardly or convencience and comfort seeking heart. And if Edwards' joining together of God's glory and my good is a correct coupling (that whatever leads to God's glory is for my highest good), and I think it is, the issue is more like faintheartedness and cowardliness. Were I even sufficiently motivated by my own desire for blessing and comfort (eternal), I'd have more resolve it seems.

I do want to see God receive all the glory due His name. I do want my entire life to be aimed directly at the center-mass of God's glory. I do want to do those things that lead to the blessing of mankind. Too often I don't want to do the whatsoever part. The whatsoever part suggests a holy out of control abandon for the things of God. Do I evidence that? In spurts maybe? On occassion perhaps? Daily resolved to do this with a specific and intentional plan for doing so and an alert flexibility that eagerly seizes opportunities as they arise while repenting of even the slightest hint of hesitant "consideration"? Definitely not -- yet! Yet! Yet!

Oh Lord, grant that all your people would be zealous for your glory at whatever cost and in whatever way you afford us! Grant that we would choose blessedness with hyou and the joy of basking in the glory of your presence over wimpy, faint, convenience-seeking settlements that are less than your highest praise and fame. Oh help us Lord!


Anonymous said...

I'm similarly struck by these Resolutions every time I read them. I look forward to this series of posts and am certain I will be challenged by both the resolutions and your study of them.

Oh, and the Marsden biography of Edwards is very excellent. I also recommend Daniell's biography of Tyndale. You know, if you're running out of things to read . . .

Shawn Abigail said...

We are tokens of what God can do through the most unlikely material. Sometimes He brings glory to Himself when we hunger and thirst for Christ in a way that will be satisfied with nothing less. And sometimes He receives glory when our hunger and thirst are gone, and we are spent, broken and defeated.

Ultimately it all centers around Christ. Not our relationship with Christ, but centering on Christ Himself - for we preach the Gospel of the Glory of Christ (2 Cor 4:4) and not merely the Gospel of the Salvation of Man (though thankfully the Gospel of Glory also contains the Gospel of Salvation).

This focus on Christ as All became obvious as I was leading a Sunday School class through Ephesians. I fear I failed to help them grasp this, but I shouldn't be too distressed that they didn't see something that has taken me 20 years to start to understand.

Where do the Father and the Spirit come into this? It is the Father's pleasure that we acknowledge the virtues and perfections of the Son. It is the Spirit's pleasure to be the enabler for true worship.

Thankfully God created us in such a way as to appreciate this. For example, I take some pleasure when I receive a compliment, but if you really want to see me happy spend some time telling me about how fine a child my son is (or my daughters for that matter). So it is with the Triune God. We acknowledge the person and work of the Father, but if you really want to touch the Father's heart, tell Him what He already knows about His Son.