Jonathan Edwards on the Brevity of Life

(From Modern Reformation, Web Exclusive Articles)

Resolution 6: Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.[1]

Life is short.

When we were children, it seemed like ages from one birthday to the next. We marked our lives by six-month increments because years were too long to comprehend. We boasted, “I’m five and a half!” Now into my fifth decade, I am convinced that the passage of time increases in velocity, relative to the age of the observer. I cannot seem to slow my life down, even when I try. Birthdays seem to come every fortnight rather than every year. The past and future seem as vast as the sea, but the present is as thin as a razor blade. Grain after grain slips through the hourglass, and no one can slow it down or cling to even one moment.

The teenage Jonathan Edwards—not yet famous, not yet influential—realized that his time on this Earth was going to go by fast. On December 18th, of 1722, when he was just nineteen years old, he began a series of seventy resolutions—or personal vows—that would guard the trajectory of his life. “While I do live,” he resolved, I should live with “all my might.” I take this expression as a determination to face life head on, intentionally and purposefully; rather than carelessly and matter-of-factly. The brevity of our lives only seems to increase the urgency of living them purposefully. Our lives (though short) are deep, beautiful, and meaningful if we view them as means to glorify the eternal God. According to Edwards, life is to be seized and apprehended actively, rather than carrying us along passively like corks bobbing on the water.

To read the full article on Modern Reformation, click here.

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