Resolutions and Jonathan Edwards (22) The Violent Increase Their Eternal Happiness
22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power; might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.
Today's resolution could be labeled "Eternal Christian Hedonism". I think John Piper would enjoy that title. Edwards was not a gloomy, downcast Christian as some may think. Even his sermon, 'Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" is about eternal happiness secured by Jesus to those who repent and trust in Christ alone for salvation. Edwards not only delighted in God's creation (he was fascinated by things such as spiders), and the many means of grace God provided through which we could worship Him (Lord's Day; preaching; prayer; singing; studying; Scripture memory; meditation; observance of sacraments), but Edwards sought to live in such a way that consistently increased his eternal happiness.
Notice the word, 'violence' in today's resolution. They may be a strange word for us to read in Edwards' resolution, but it is appropriate. Matthew 11:12 states, "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force" (KJV).
You may have never noticed this passage before. Matthew documented that the violent take heaven by force. What can this mean? Listen to this commentary from Puritan, Thomas Watson:
"The exercises of the worship of God are contrary to nature; therefore, there must be a provoking of ourselves to them. The movement of the soul toward sin is natural, but its movement toward heaven is violent. The stone moves easily to the center. It has an innate propensity downward, but to draw up a millstone into the air is done by violence because it is against nature. So to lift up the heart to heaven in duty is done by violence and we must provoke ourselves to it. What is it to provoke ourselves to duty? It is to awaken ourselves and shake off spiritual slothfulness. Let us then examine whether we put forth this holy violence for heaven.
Do we set time apart to call ourselves to account and to try our evidences for heaven? "My spirit made diligent search" (Ps. 77:6). Do we take our hearts, as a watch, all in pieces to see what is amiss and to mend it? Are we curiously inquisitive into the state of our souls? Are we afraid of artificial grace, as we are of artificial happiness? Do we use violence in prayer? Is there fire in our sacrifice? Is the wind of the Spirit filling our sails, causing unutterable groans (Rom. 8:26)? Do we pray in the morning as if we were to die at night? Do we thirst for the living God? Are our souls enlarged with holy desires? "There is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee" (Ps. 73:25). Do we desire holiness as well as heaven? Do we desire as much to look like Christ as to live with Christ? Is our desire constant? Is this spiritual pulse ever beating?
Are we skilled in self-denial? Can we deny our ease, our aims, our interests? Can we cross our own will to fulfill God's? Can we behead our beloved sin? To pluck out the right eye requires violence. (Matt. 18:9). Are we lovers of God? It is not how much we do, but how much we love. Does love command the castle of our hearts? Does Christ's beauty and sweetness constrain us? (2 Cor. 5:14). Do we love God more than we fear hell? Do we keep our spiritual watch? Do we set spies in every place, watching our thoughts, our eyes, our tongues? When we, have prayed against sin, do we watch against temptation? Do we press after further degrees of sanctity? "Reaching forth unto those things which are before" (Phil. 3:13). A good Christian is a wonder; he is the most contented yet the least satisfied. He is contented with a little of the world, but not satisfied with a little grace.
How violent Christ was about our salvation! He was in agony; He "continued all night in prayer" (Luke 6:12). He wept, He fasted, He died a violent death; He rose violently out of the grave. Was Christ so violent for our salvation, and does it not become us to be violent who are so intimately concerned in it? Christ's violence was not only satisfactory, but exemplary. It was not only to appease God, but to teach us. Christ was violent in dying to teach us to be violent in believing." 
Christ was 'violent' about securing our eternal happiness. Now we must be violent in the various means of grace God has provided for Christians to partake in. Edwards understood this and he sought his eternal happiness with all his might. Believer, are you seeking your eternal happiness in your daily disciplines? Or are you a sluggish and miserable Christian? Let us learn from Edwards.
Excerpt from "Heaven Taken By Storm" by Thomas Watson