A Mirror for the Soul

By Dustin W. Benge

The revival of interest in Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) in recent years has brought his Resolutions to a new generation of readers. The Edwards Resolutions have been printed on tee-shirts, been the subject of ministry conferences, and have been read by many preachers desiring somehow to emulate the life and ministry of their author. However, Edwards was not the only preacher of the 18th century to have a list of maxims against which he regularly measured his life and heart. In fact, such lists for personal self-examination were common practice among ministers and other Christians.

Like Edwards, fellow 18th century revivalist and preacher, George Whitefield (1714–1750) also composed a list of criteria, which he used each night as a basis of judging himself on his actions during the day. Whitefield’s smaller list[1] (to be compared with the 70 Resolutions of Edwards) seems to be much more manageable for the contemporary Christian to use as a mirror into their own soul.

The list is,

Have I,

  1. Been fervent in private prayer?
  2. Used stated hours of prayer?
  3. Used prayer every hour?
  4. After or before every deliberate conversation or action, considered how it might tend to God’s glory?
  5. After any pleasure, immediately given thanks?
  6. Planned business for the day?
  7. Been simple and recollected in everything?
  8. Been zealous in undertaking and active in doing what good I could?
  9. Been meek, cheerful, affable in everything I said or did?
  10. Been proud, vain, unchaste, or enviable of others?
  11. Recollected in eating and drinking? Thankful? Temperate in sleep?
  12. Taken time for giving thanks according to Law’s rules? (William Law)[2]
  13. Been diligent in studies?
  14. Thought or spoken unkindly of anyone?
  15. Confessed all sins?

[1] Arnold Dallimore, George Whitefield: The Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the 18th Century Revival, Vol. 1, (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1995), 80.

[2] To read the list of William Law, visit: http://img.sermonindex.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic_pdf.php?topic_id=12062&forum=34


Dustin W. Benge (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as Associate Pastor and Pastor for Family Ministries at Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Mobile, AL. Dustin is a junior fellow of the Andrew Fuller Center and lives with his wife, Molli, in Mobile.