New Year's Day, as we know it on January 1, wasn't adopted until in 1752. At that time, Puritans eschewed New Year's celebrations. Rather, they encouraged their children to meditate on the year past and the one to come. And one Puritan in particular took to making resolutions. Resolutions, and a determined ability to keep them, fashioned the character of the leading pastor and promoter of America's First Great Awakening. And, according to his biographer George Marsden, his revivalism helped to shape America as an independent country.
Jonathan Edwards made resolutions throughout his life, but it's a list he made after graduating from Yale that has earned the awe of admirers for the past three centuries. "Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly, and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same." Nothing was so trivial that Edwards couldn't work to improve it. "Resolved, to maintain ...1