Jonathan Edwards is arguably known as the foremost American theologian. The style & content of his writings betray the depth of his mind, and can at times even overwhelm the reader. Less realized is his unswerving concern for the growth of young believers. A small pamphlet has been published by P&R, edited by Stephen Nichols. The booklet contains Edwards’ famous Seventy Resolutions and a letter he penned to a young believer in a nearby town. Though not written for publication, the letter was published after his death and has remained in print since the 1800s.
His counsel to the young lady remains relevant and insightful. Here’s a brief overview of his suggestions:
- Strive for godliness in the same way you did when first saved.
- Practice what you hear unbelievers exhorted to do.
- When you hear sermons, hear them for yourself.
- God has forgiven & forgotten your past sins. You shouldn’t.
- You should be more grieved over your post-conversion sins than you felt about your pre-conversion sin.
- Be humbled by the sin that remains in you, but not disheartened.
- In prayer & the sacraments, come as a needy worshipper.
- Remember that pride hides in your heart and will destroy your peace and communion with God.
- Consider the best conversations & experiences to be the ones that: (a) humble you the most, and (b) fixate your heart on sacrificing yourself for God.
- If you begin to doubt your salvation, look over your past for a while and then seek to discover new things about Christ.
- When your spiritual life ebbs & fear floods your heart, don’t let it be cast out until love overwhelms it.
- You should often be exhorting, counseling and warning others.
- When you counsel, do it with earnestness, affection, thoroughness and humility.
- Meet with other Christians occasionally to talk about spiritual things.
- In times of great difficulty, need or desire, secretly engage in a day of fasting & prayer.
- Do not give non-Christians the opportunity to dismiss the faith because of your life.
- Do not talk of religion & spiritual things with levity and laughter.
- Walk as a child with God, keeping your eye closely on the cross.
- Pray much for the church, it’s ministers and the work of the gospel in people’s lives.
These are a brief summary of his letter. Thankfully, his ‘Advice to Young Converts‘ is available online. Do take the time to read the whole thing!