You Say You Want A Resolution…(Part 2)



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


  • Luke M. says:

    Mark… I think “a quick rabbit punch in the face” can be useful with “irrational beings” as long as you don’t “suffer the least motions of anger” toward them. It’s a difficult balance… to be punching the face, but not angry at the face.


  • Luke M. says:

    p.s. that was a really funny post. And if I’ve learned from an older post… we should be reading the books of old dead people… and making fun of them.

  • Caroline says:

    I had a good time laughing :) thanks so much for the witty explanations. M pathetic when it comes to understanding old English.

  • Luke,

    I’m going to try that on my dogs….I think I can do it.

  • You’re right, Luke, that’s exactly the lesson we should take away from this. In fact, the lesson can be extrapolated out to include making fun of old living people too.

  • Hey Caroline,

    Thanks. We’ll keep doing our best to convey exactly what the Puritans intended!

  • I like the first one on the list: “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.” The explanation that went along with this one was great. Who knew anything about spiritual theorems? I missed that when I was baptized… “Do you believe God sent Jesus to die on the cross for your sins, Jesus rose after three days, we’ll meet him in paradise, and it’s consequently your job to work toward solving any theorem in divinity that remains unsolved?”

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

  • jessica says:

    lol. i appreciate you. i am in a period of learning to celebrate and enjoy walking with the Lord, rather than being overwhelmed by the things that don’t make sense.

  • nice thots-thx for sharing these insights

  • beth says:

    amazing photo

  • Hi Marshall,

    I think I’m going to start asking new believers that question.

  • Good policy, Jessica!

  • Hey Bethi!

    Yeah, it’s really amazing because that was Jonathan Edwards actual skin color – believe it or not, there was no Photoshop touching up to this photo.

  • Jim Hogue says:

    I mean, whose to say that the rabbit punch to the face isn’t making peace with them? I think it depends on the situation, who you’re punching, and if they’re grateful for the punch. Your thoughts?

  • Lorraine says:

    ROFLOL!! And I have the Complete Works of Jonathan Edwards on my Amazon wishlist!! Hahaha – maybe I should re-think that!? Unless perhaps, you are planning a translation of the whole kit and kaboodle…

    But, now you’ve gone and done it, ’cause I never thought about the sewing of the fig leaves before now…that is a brain worm that is going to wriggle in there for a bit! hahaha

    My dogs are also certain I’ve been to Singapore every time I step outside the door – man, those tails are well attached!
    Thanks for the fab. post.

  • Hey Jim,

    Who wouldn’t be grateful for a punch from you? I know I would, and I’d be perfectly at peace with it.

  • Hi Lorraine,

    I think you should go ahead and get the Complete Works – I’ll come out with a companion book sometime in the future, then all will be clear. Glad you could relate on the dogs…thanks for your comments! And don’t give the sewing of fig leaves too much thought – it’s just too deep for anyone.

  • Petra Hefner says:

    I've resolved to fold the fig leaves and to put them away. They never really concealed anything anyhow, even if they were mysteriously double-stitched! I've resolved to ask for help in all and everything from here on out, because I am a real klutz! But chances are that I will not; I'm too prideful for that. Arrggh, is there any hope? Happy 2011!!

  • Mark Altrogge says:

    Good resolutions Petra! There's hope! Happy New Year!

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