Wednesday, December 14, 2005

JE Resolution 6


6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

Living “with all my might” is not simply living with gusto, enjoying life to the fullest, spending our days with purpose and energy. There are many, many people who seemingly live their days with all their might—live it for all it’s worth. Their lives are full to overflowing with their jobs, their children, their families, their friends, their sports, their bank accounts. It takes a great deal of time and effort to maintain all these things and so it is easy to believe that if one is filling time and “living productively” one is living mightily.

However, as we’ve seen, to Jonathan Edwards living “with all my might” means living to the glory of God:

. . . it is in your power, with great diligence to attend the matter of your duty towards God and towards your neighbour. It is in your power to attend all ordinances, and all public and private duties of religion, and to do it with your might.
Pressing into the Kingdom of God, Application 2


And again, we can see the echoes of the Westminster Shorter Catechism in his meditations:

Q2: What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him?

A2: The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him.

Q3: What do the Scriptures principally teach?

A3: The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.


But how are we to do that?

In his sermon, Christian Cautions, Edwards tells us that in order to live to the glory of God we must know two things intimately: the Word of God and our own selves.

The Word of God is our rule, given to us so that we may know how we should live (the WSC calls it “what duty God requires of man”) and unless we know and understand what it says, our self examination will have no moorings. We may look at the way we spend our time and conclude -- because we seem to have so little of it left—that we are living with all our might and if we spend at least some of it in Christian pursuits we may even be able to tell ourselves we are living to the glory of God. And yet, without a diligent study of the rule God has given, we cannot be sure whether our actions really do fulfill our duty to God.

But to what purpose will all this care of God to inform us be, if we neglect the revelation which God hath made of his mind, and take no care to become acquainted with it? It is impossible that we should know whether we do not live in a way of sin, unless we know the rule by which we are to walk. The sinfulness of any way consists in its disagreement from the rule. And we cannot know whether it [agrees] with the rule or not, unless we be acquainted with the rule. Rom 3:20, “By the law is the knowledge of sin.”

Therefore, lest we go in ways displeasing to God, we ought with the greatest diligence to study the rules which God hath given us. We ought to read and search the Holy Scriptures much, and do it with the design to know the whole of our duty, and in order that the Word of God may be “a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our paths,” Psa. 119:105. Everyone ought to strive to get knowledge in divine things, and to grow in such knowledge, to the end that he may know his duty, and know what God would have him to do.


Therefore, the first requirement in living with all one’s might is to study God’s Word—His rule given to us “to the end that he may know his duty, and know what God would have him do.” But without bringing our own hearts under self examination “as subject to the rule” we still won’t know if we are living with all our might:

We should examine our hearts and ways until we have satisfactorily discovered either their agreement or disagreement with the rules of Scripture. This is a matter that requires the utmost diligence, lest we overlook our irregularities, lest some evil way in us should lie hid under disguise, and pass unobserved. One would think we are under greater advantages to be acquainted with ourselves than with anything else. For we are always present with ourselves, and have an immediate consciousness of our own actions. All that passeth in us, or is done by us, is immediately under our eye. Yet really in some respects the knowledge of nothing is so difficult to be obtained, as the knowledge of our ourselves. We should therefore use great diligence in prying into the secrets of our hearts and in examining all our ways and practices. That you may the more successfully use those means to know whether you do not live in some way of sin; be advised,

First, evermore to join self-reflection with reading and hearing the Word of God. When you read or hear, reflect on yourselves as you go along, comparing yourselves and your own ways with what you read or hear. Reflect and consider what agreement or disagreement there is between the word and your ways. The Scriptures testify against all manner of sin and contain directions for every duty. As the apostle saith, 2 Tim. 3:16, “And is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Therefore when you there read the rules given us by Christ and his apostles, reflect and consider, each one of you with himself, Do I live according to this rule? Or do I live in any respect contrary to it?


There is no time like the present to apply ourselves to this admonition that Edwards gave himself. Resolved to live with all my might, while I do live.

[Update: Kim at the Upward Call has her reflections on Resolution 6 posted just in time for New Years. I hope to have my next installment posted today, too, God willing.]

1 Comments:

Blogger Kim said...

The Word of God is our rule, given to us so that we may know how we should live (the WSC calls it “what duty God requires of man”) and unless we know and understand what it says, our self examination will have no moorings.

No argument from me.

Great post!

1:22 PM  

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