On December 19, 1722, the supply preacher of a small Presbyterian church in New York City made a second journal entry in his new endeavor: “Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it.”
This entry eventually became known as number thirty-six of Jonathan Edwards’ “Resolutions.” Edwards, the supply preacher, would become well known for these resolutions in the years to come. To him, the “Resolutions” were a collection of matter-of-fact statements he sought to live by. These were not the kinds of resolutions culturally associated with New Year’s Day.
As biographer George Claghorn observes, “For Edwards, [the Resolutions] were neither pious hopes, romantic dreams, nor legalistic rules. They were instructions for life, maxims to be followed in all respects. Edwards depended on the sustaining strength of his omnipotent Deity to enable him to live up to them.”
And certainly, God help any man trying to live according to that second entry, known as Resolution #36: “Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it.” Talk about a pious hope, a romantic dream, a legalistic rule if you’ve ever heard of one!
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