“Resolved, never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.”
- Jonathan Edwards, Resolutions
The famed Puritan theologian Jonathan Edwards wrote a list of 40 resolutions early in his life to guide how he wanted to life. Essentially, they were rules to live by. Amongst those resolutions is today’s quote. In it, Edwards states that he never wants to find himself doing something that he would be afraid of doing if it were the last hour of his life.
With this resolution (and combined with his other 39 resolutions), he is holding himself to a high standard - doing his best to ensure that any of his activities would be worthy of the last precious moments of his life. Keep in mind that this resolution is not one that restricted him to just a small set of acceptable activities. Instead, think of this resolution as a rule that excludes certain activities. For example, most of us would have to admit that spending the last hour of our lives in a drunken stupor or catching up on the latest episode of a reality tv show would not be a wise use of that time. This is the type of filter that Jonathan Edwards used to decide how to spend his time.
Granted, most of us do not live our lives with the disciplined fervor of a Puritan preacher – but the advice is still valuable to consider. Are there tasks that you occasionally (or often) find yourself doing that would not be worth the last hour of your life? Could that time be better spent elsewhere?
Filter your activities through today’s quote during the course of this week and see what results. Maybe some formerly-enjoyable tasks will loose their luster. Try dropping those activities and replace them with something else – you will likely find that your evenings are more enjoyable and fulfilling than they were before!
About Jonathan Edwards: Jonathan Edwards was a preacher and theologian that lived during colonial times in the United States, from 1703 – 1758. His Resolutions are a list of 40 items that he resolved to live throughout the course of his life – a list that he resolved to review every week. It was a list constructed over the course of a year as he transitioned from university life to his preaching career. These Resolutions were later distributed in tract form as advice to help guide others in their daily lives.