Confessions and Resolutions: Encouraged by Jonathan Edwards – Part 2

Part 2: One Resolution, Three Links! (Resolution #1)

“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 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 difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.”

Commentary. It is a humility worthy of our imitation that he introduces his resolutions with a plea for God’s help. I offered that introduction to you in the last blog. Simply, Edwards is of the biblical mind that his success in keeping these resolutions is wholly dependent upon God’s gracious help, so far as these resolutions accord with God’s will.

This first resolution seems to bring about the matter of decision-making in his life and the basis of those decisions. It appears from the phrase, “that I will do whatsoever”, introduces the idea of selection – that in the course of our day we are confronted with multiple things that we may do, and that the objects of these decisions may be good vs. bad, right vs. wrong, moral vs. sinful, or perhaps, optimum good vs. lesser goods. But out of the many things that we may think, say, or do, what are the things that we actually will think, say, or do? And what is the basis of those decisions? (I believe the biblical passage that he is most accurately attempting to resolve is that of 1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1.) But for his own answer, let us continue –

The basis of those decisions is, he answers, “whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit, and pleasure.” So we infer, not just to God’s glory or our own good, profit, and pleasure, but that which is most participative in those ideas. In other words, we will often be confronted with many things that are lawful for us and that glorify God, but may not be the most helpful to others, and therefore, may not be the most God glorifying. This requires our greatest consideration. It is enough in this commentary to state that Edwards’ resolution encourages us to base our daily “doings” upon what most glorifies God and what is most to our own good, profit, and pleasure – these two considerations appear to be the basis of decisiveness. And this will be his course during his life, for it appears that this will be his course in eternity, yet without hindrance. Thus, by the mention of “time”, he means never to excuse himself from the consideration of what most glorifies God and what most fulfills his own others-oriented pleasures.

But I would also interject from reading Edwards that the personal good, profit, and pleasure that he speaks of is not a good, profit, and pleasure that is confined to himself, for that would be self-centered, and unbiblical. From Scripture we may deduce that there is a kind of personal gain that is godly – that is, the gain that we seek in the gain of others. So long as our good, profit, and pleasure is most occupied with the good of others and seeks their good as an end servant to the ultimate end of glorifying God, then that personal good, profit, and pleasure is a righteous pursuit. In other words, I do not think that Edwards is here referring to a self-confined pursuit, but a personal pleasure in the good and profit of another to the glory of God. I believe that I am right to conclude this because of the next link in his resolution –

“Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general.” From this I would draw that he sees his duty as that conformity to the Scriptures, the golden rule of Christ, and in connection to the aforementioned resolution – simply, that this aspect of his resolution is the overflow of the prior resolution. As he (we) does (do) what is most God-glorifying in every situation, with the pursuit of his own good, profit, and pleasure, the overflow will be the resolve to do whatever is to the “good and advantage of mankind in general.” This is much like that overflow that we find often in Paul, who makes his own subjective desires to be with Christ in glory the source of and servant to the objective needs of the Church, that by continuing with them he might work with them for their progression and joy in the faith (Philippians 1:21-26).

Now we must ask, what is that good and advantage which is “most” good and advantageous for mankind? The resolve towards this end in and of itself agrees with that sentiment of the Holy Spirit when through Paul He inspired, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others,” Philippians 2:4. Directly following is the example of Christ’s humiliation, and thus, it figures that that greatest good and advantage for mankind is that which comes through faith in Christ, or by the testimony of the Gospel. That which is most good and advantageous is their salvation. Edwards resolved to make this an end in his life and ministry, and so should we.

As to the third link, it is the link of expectancy – that when one resolves to do what most glorifies God, and what is most profitable to himself, which is his own growth in Christ and the salvation and profit of others, that difficulties will follow. Simply, that to meet the prior resolutions will result in affliction and difficulties, but as he also resolves to do these things no matter the degree or amount of the difficulties which attend to it, so we may rightly infer and find remarkable encouragement from him in that he considers the two former resolves greater than the difficulties that will attend to them and so comes the third link! For when he resolves to do the first two links of the resolution in spite of the expected difficulties that will follow them, he concludes that to glorify God supremely and to be concentrated on one’s own pleasure (when that pleasure is another person’s pleasure in Jesus Christ) are two resolutions whose reward is greater than the difficulties that come with the pursuit of them and, therefore, he gives a greater weight to God’s glory and the advance of the Gospel than he does to affliction for the sake of them. This is truly encouraging – he resolves to glorify God and advance the Gospel (personally and publicly) despite the greatest of trials and tribulations.

My Own Confession and Resolution. First, that this commentary has been longer than the rest will be, but hey, it’s an awesome resolution worthy of our consideration and imitation in so far as it aligns with Scripture, which I hold that it does. I confess that I often think, do, and say many things in any given hour that do not hold up to such a resolution. I often do not even consider what most glorifies God in a given moment with given possibilities. And I often confine my pleasure to those things that do not in any way build up others.

I resolve, therefore, with God’s help, to pursue the servitude that I find in Christ with the intention of setting before all men the Gospel of Christ to the glory of God, that this might be the thing that most enthralls my affection. Moreover, that I might always, in every place, under any trial, seek and do that which most glorifies God, knowing that that will be my greatest good, profit, and pleasure both now and in eternity.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: