Edwards’ Resolution #17

Posted: Monday, February 3, 2014 in Resolutions

downloadResolved, That I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.

This means to live each day, each moment, with no regrets. No, “I wish I had’ or “II wish I hadn’t.” When we look back on our day, is there anything left undone? Anything we need to do for others? Any confession for sin? Anything?

Then look forward. With your sanctified imagination, envision what it will be like when you stand before Christ face to face! When you are at the end of your life, reaching a ripe age of maturity if the Lord allows, I pray my testimony and yours is that of the Apostle Paul, “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24)

It is worth remembering that Edwards wrote this as a young man. He could not have anticipated how he would pass into eternity, dying from an only recently invented smallpox inoculation administered to protect people from dying. It was a surprising turn of events (or as Edwards would have put it, surprising providence of God). Right as Edwards thought he was starting an exciting new phase of his ministry. He had moved to Princeton just a few months before to assume the presidency of the college, and had been formally installed as president only a few weeks prior to his death. His wife Sarah hadn’t even moved the whole household from Massachusetts. And yet, consider the following assessment:

There is an ancient Christian tradition of reflection on ars bene moriendi: the art of dying well. The theology of Jonathan Edwards was stern stuff, nourished by constant attention to Scripture and a shaped with a keen eye on God’s work in the world around him. It is good to be able to report that he died well, by all accounts… As death approached, some friends and relatives near his bedside were fretting over the terrible effect the death of the president would have on the college, and the loss to the American colonies that the passing of the famous preacher Jonathan Edwards would be. Nobody thought he was listening, but he said aloud, “Trust in God, and ye need not fear.”[1]

Looking forward to dying well, finishing the race well… Of course, this can only occur if we are at this moment living well – for the glory of Christ and the sake of His name.

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