Widstoe's Resolutions

The following resonated personally as a church-going scientist. Pasted from a church magazine article^[“Faith, the Greater Knowledge,” New Era, Aug. 1978.] found on this resource page.

On January 2, 1891, a 19-year-old Norwegian immigrant sat down in his home in Logan City, Cache County, Utah Territory, and wrote the following lines on some lined paper:

As I have come to fully realize; that, I am as weak as all other mortals-perhaps weaker than many; and realizing that happiness in life is only obtained by having a pure heart, a clear conscience; and fearing the Lord and keeping his commandments; also as I realize that happiness in old age consists of reviewing a life devoid from great sins; the gratification of noble desires manfully carried out; and finding that my life up to this time has not been as I should like it to have been: I lay down the following regulations by which I shall try to conduct my life hereafter; to which end may the Lord Almighty, my Creator, help me.

He then spelled out 17 resolutions. Nearly eight months later, on Tuesday, August 25, 1891, he copied them in a hardcover journal. Here he was to record his years of struggle as a stranger-student from Utah Territory at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He began by entering the 17 resolves that were to guide his life.


  1. That religion, the science of sciences, be made my chief concernment throughout life.
  1. That I will daily pray to God in secret.
  1. That I will daily reflect upon God and his attributes and try to become like him.
  1. That I will receive Light, Wisdom or Knowledge, wherever or however it may be offered.
  1. That I never be ashamed to acknowledge my principles, beliefs and religion when I once become fully convinced of their correctness.
  1. That I never lose one moment of time but improve it.
  1. That I maintain strict temperance in eating and drinking.
  1. That I never do anything that I would not do were it the last hour of my life.
  1. That I daily read the word of God, that I may learn his will and that I may be comforted, strengthened and encouraged by so doing.
  1. That in any narrations I speak nothing but the pure and simple verity.
  1. That I always do that which I think is my duty and for the best good for my fellow beings.
  1. That I live with all my might while I do live, that I may not die a living death.
  1. That I never by word or manner try to force my opinions on others but that I simply state them and offer my arguments against others!
  1. That I seek to overcome the habit of being quick tempered, loud speaking, impatient motions and whatever might offend my fellowmen and hurt me.
  1. That I never for a moment forget my duty towards my mother, she who has made me who I am and who will make what I will become, she who has spent the better portion of her life in my behalf and to whom I owe all the honor, respect, and affection that I can give; also that I always remember my duties toward my brother and all my friends and relations.
  1. That I complete every task which I begin; also that I carefully consider my purpose and its results before taking upon me any duty.
  1. That I always remember that the men and women I meet are my brothers and sisters and that I look to the beam in my own eye before attempting to remove the mote in my fellow’s eye.

The young man who wrote these lines…was John Andreas Widtsoe.

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