Freedom of the Will


One of America's preeminent philosophical theologians, Jonathan Edwards (1703–58) was a central figure in New England's first Great Awakening. Famed for his stirring sermons, Edwards remains a significant influence on modern religion, and this in-depth analysis of Calvinist beliefs represents his most important contribution to Christian thought.
Romans 9:16 ("It is not of him that willeth") serves as the text for Edwards' examination of the nature and state of man's will. ...
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Freedom of the Will

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One of America's preeminent philosophical theologians, Jonathan Edwards (1703–58) was a central figure in New England's first Great Awakening. Famed for his stirring sermons, Edwards remains a significant influence on modern religion, and this in-depth analysis of Calvinist beliefs represents his most important contribution to Christian thought.
Romans 9:16 ("It is not of him that willeth") serves as the text for Edwards' examination of the nature and state of man's will. Written in 1754 while the author served as a missionary to Native Americans, this polemic raises timeless questions about desire, choice, good, and evil. Edwards contrasts the opposing Calvinist and Arminian views of free will and addresses issues related to God's foreknowledge, determinism, and moral agency. His copious quotations from scripture, along with citations from the works of Enlightenment thinkers, support a thought-provoking exploration of mankind's fallen state and the search for salvation.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780486489209
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Publication date: 6/13/2012
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 262,184
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Colonial-era preacher and theologian Jonathan Edwards (1703–58) was a prolific author whose eloquent works inspired countless missionaries. He is the author of Dover's Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God and Other Puritan Sermons.
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Table of Contents

Part I Wherein Are Explained and Stated Various Terms and Things Belonging to the Subject of the Ensuing Discourse

I Concerning the Nature of the Will 1

II Concerning the Determination of the Will 4

III Concerning the Meaning of the Terms, Necessity, Impossibility, Inability, &c. and of Contingence 12

IV Of the Distinction of Natural and Moral Necessity, and Inability 18

V Concerning the Notion of Liberty, and of Moral Agency 24

Part II Wherein It Is Considered Whether There Is or Can Be Any Sort of Freedom of Will, as That Wherein Arminians Place the Essence of the Liberty of all Moral Agents; and Whether Any Such Thing Ever Was or Can Be Conceived of

I Showing the Manifest Inconsistence of the Arminian Notion of Liberty of Will, Consisting in the Will's Self-Determining Power 29

II Several Supposed Ways of Evading the Foregoing Reasoning Considered 33

III Whether Any Event Whatsoever, and Volition in Particular, Can Come to Pass without a Cause of Its Existence 37

IV Whether Volition Can arise without a Cause, through the Activity of the Nature of the Soul 42

V Showing, That if the Things Asserted in These Evasions Should Be Supposed to Be True, They Are Altogether Impertinent, and Cannot Help the Cause of Arminian Liberty; and How, This Being the State of the Case, Arminian Writers Are Obliged to Talk Inconsistently 46

VI Concerning the Will Determining in Things Which Are Perfectly Indifferent in the View of the Mind 49

VII Concerning the Notion of Liberty of Will, Consisting in Indifference 55

VIII Concerning the Supposed Liberty of the Will, as Opposite to All Necessity 63

IX Of the Connection of the Acts of the Will with the Dictates of the Understanding 66

X Volition Necessarily Connected with the Influence of Motives: with Particular Observations on the Great Inconsistence of Mr. Chubb's Assertions and Reasonings about the Freedom of the Will 73

XI The Evidence of God's Certain Foreknowledge of the Volitions of Moral Agents 85

XII God's Certain Foreknowledge of the Future Volitions of Moral Agents, Inconsistent with Such a Contingence of those Volitions as Is without All Necessity 101

XIII Whether We Suppose the Volitions of Moral Agents to Be Connected with Any Thing Antecedent, or Not, yet They Must Be Necessary in Such a Sense as to Overthrow Arminian Liberty 113

Part III Wherein Is Inquired Whether Any Such Liberty of Will as Arminians Hold, Be Necessary to Moral Agency, Virtue, Praise, and Dispraise, &c.

I God's Moral Excellency Necessary, yet Virtuous and Praiseworthy 117

II The Acts of the Will of the Human Soul of Jesus Christ, Necessarily Holy, yet Truly Virtuous, Praiseworthy, Rewardable, &c. 120

III The Case of Such as Are Given up of God to Sin, and of Fallen Man in General, Proves Moral Necessity and Inability to Be Consistent with Blameworthiness 133

IV Command and Obligation to Obedience, Consistent with Moral Inability to Obey 139

V That Sincerity of Desires and Endeavors, Which Is Supposed to Excuse in the Non-Performance of Things in Themselves Good, Particularly Considered 148

VI Liberty of Indifference, Not Only Not Necessary to Virtue, but Utterly Inconsistent with It; and All, either Virtuous or Vicious Habits or Inclinations, Inconsistent with Arminian Notions of Liberty and Moral Agency 155

VII Arminian Notions of Moral Agency Inconsistent with All Influence of Motive and Inducement, in either Virtuous or Vicious Actions 161

Part IV Wherein the Chief Grounds of the Reasonings of Arminians, in Support and Defense of the Aforementioned Notions of Liberty, Moral Agency, &c. and against the Opposite Doctrine, Are Considered

I The Essence of the Virtue and Vice of Dispositions of the Heart and Acts of the Will, Lies Not in Their Cause, but Their Nature 169

II The Falseness and Inconsistence of That Metaphysical Notion of Action and Agency Which Seems to Be Generally Entertained by the Defenders of the Arminian Doctrine concerning Liberty, Moral Agency, &c. 174

III The Reasons Why Some Think It Contrary to Common Sense, to Suppose Those Things Which Are Necessary, to Be Worthy of Either Praise or Blame 181

IV It Is Agreeable to Common sense, and the Natural Notions of Mankind, to Suppose Moral Necessity to Be Consistent with Praise and Blame, Reward and Punishment 187

V Concerning Those Objections, That This Scheme of Necessity Renders All Means and Endeavors for the Avoiding of Sin, or the Obtaining Virtue and Holiness, Vain and to No Purpose; and That It Makes Men No More Than Mere Machines in Affairs of Morality And Religion 194

VI Concerning That Objection against the Doctrine Which Has Been Maintained, That It Agrees with the Stoical Doctrine of Faith, and the Opinions of Mr. Hobbes 200

VII Concerning the Necessity of the Divine Will 202

VIII Some Further Objections against the Moral Necessity of God's Volitions Considered 208

IX Concerning that Objection against the Doctrine Which Has Been Maintained, That It Makes God the Author of Sin 220

X Concerning Sin's First Entrance into the World 234

XI Of a Supposed Inconsistence of These Principles with God's Moral Character 236

XII Of a Supposed Tendency of These Principles to Atheism and Licentiousness 240

XIII Concerning that Objection against the Reasoning, by Which the Calvinistic Doctrine is Supported, That It Is Metaphysical and Abstruse 243

Conclusion 251

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2005

    The most thurough defense of Calvinism Available

    If one takes for fact that God is ominpresent and ominscient then Edwards logically demonstrates how the Calvinist doctrine of predestination is absolutely necessary. Well written and breaks down rather complex issues into simple ideas that can be easily understood by all.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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