Monday, January 21, 2013

Cotton Mather's Resolutions

Cotton Mather, Diary of Cotton Mather, 1681-1724, Vol. 1, pp. 3-5:

12 d. 1 m. [March [1681].]...Butt one special Action of this Day, was to make and write the following:
Lord! Thou that workest in mee to will, help mee to resolve.
I. As to my Thoughts.
1. To endeavour, that I will keep God, and Christ, and Heaven, much in my Thoughts.
2. In a special manner, to watch and pray, against lascivious Thoughts, ambitious Thoughts, and wandring Thoughts in the Times of Devotion.
II. As to my Words.
1. To bee not of many Words, and when I do speak, to do it with Deliberation.
2. To remember my obligations to use my Tongue as the Lord's, and not my own: and therefore, to promote savoury Discourse, if I can, wherever I come; and to discourse with such as come fairly in my way, about the Things of their everlasting Peace.
3. Never to answer any weighty Question, without lifting up my Heart unto God, in a Request, that Hee would help me to give a right Answer.
4. To speak Ill of no Man; except, on a good Ground, and for a good End.
5. Seldome to make a Visit, without contriving, what I may do for God, in that Visit.
III. As to my daily Course of Duties.
1. To pray at least thrice, for the most part every Day.
2. To meditate once a Day; in the Meditation proceeding after some such Method as this; that there shall bee two Parts of the work, doctrinal, and applicatory. The doctrinal to bee dispatched in an Answer to a Quaestion. The Applicatory to flow from thence into ExaminationExpostulationResolution.
3. To make a Custome of propounding to myself, these three Questions, every Night before I sleep.
What hath been the Mercy of God unto mee, in the Day past?What hath been my carriage before God, in the Day past? And,
If I dy this Night is my immortal Spirit safe?
4. To lead a Life of heavenly Ejaculations [short prayers to God].
5. To bee diligent in observing and recording of illustrious Providences.But in all, to bee continually going unto the Lord Jesus Christ, as the only Physician, and Redeemer, of my Soul.Lord! Thou that workest in mee to do, help mee to perform.
Penned by, Cotton Mather; A feeble and worthless, yett (Lord! by this Grace!) desirous to approve himself, a sincere and faithful Servant of Jesus Christ. The Lord knowes, how miserably defective I have been, in the performing of what I have thus resolved. But my Defects, have been the matter of my continual Reflections and Abasements before Him. And, for the main, I have made in my Study, to bee abounding in these Works of the Lord. Yea, these Flights of my Soul, Essayes to glorify God, have been but the lower and lesser Flights of my Youth; which I hope, will ere long proceed unto a Mounting up with the Wings of Eagles.

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