Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.
Edwards packs a lot in this first resolution. Three times he resolves. In the first resolve Edwards makes it clear that he desires to do that which will be most to God’s glory, and his own pleasure. You may think these two pursuits are separate, but one of the great things about Edwards is that he points out in other places that these two pursuits (God’s glory and his own pleasure) are not separate, but one and the same. He has said elsewhere, “God is glorified not only by His glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in. When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified than if they only see it. His glory is then received by the whole soul, both by the understanding and by the heart. God made the world that He might communicate, and the creature receive, His glory; and that it might [be] received both by the mind and heart. He that testifies his idea of God’s glory doesn’t glorify God so much as he that testifies also his approbation of it and his delight in it.”
Edwards rightly thought that God could only be glorified if His glory was seen and delighted in. Without delight, God gets no glory. This is the good, profit, and pleasure he is speaking of here. It is not worldly pleasure he is seeking to get, he is seeking the pleasure that is to be found (and had) at God’s right hand (Ps. 16:11). This, he wants to do for the whole duration of his life. Do you?
In the last two resolves Edwards speaks of doing his duty and all he can for the good of mankind, no matter the cost it brings him. This is interesting knowing how he spent his time day by day. He spent around 13 hours in his study everyday reading, writing, re-reading, re-writing, etc. If he resolved to do his duty and all he could for the good of mankind, why did he spend so much time in his study? Some may think mankind is only served by feeding the homeless, or going to visit the people in need, whatever the need be. Edwards would not say those are bad things to do, he would encourage you to do them.
But to Edwards, he was doing all he could for the good of mankind by cultivating a life of study. He rightly knew that he would be of no use to anyone if his soul was not happy in God. He also knew that mankind’s deepest need was to have Christ. Thus, he studied, day in and day out, to serve mankind, and give us his writings with the hope that we would see Christ in them.
To this I can only say thank you Jonathan, you have served us well, for we see much of Christ in you.