Edwards on the Will
378 Pages

Edwards on the Will


378 Pages


Jonathan Edwards towered over his contemporaries--a man over six feet tall and a figure of theological stature--but the reasons for his power have been a matter of dispute. Edwards on the Will offers a persuasive explanation. In 1753, after seven years of personal trials, which included dismissal from his Northampton church, Edwards submitted a treatise, Freedom of the Will, to Boston publishers. Its impact on Puritan society was profound. He had refused to be trapped either by a new Arminian scheme that seemed to make God impotent or by a Hobbesian natural determinism that made morality an illusion. He both reasserted the primacy of God's will and sought to reconcile freedom with necessity. In the process he shifted the focus from the community of duty to the freedom of the individual. Edwards died of smallpox in 1758 soon after becoming president of Princeton; as one obituary said, he was "a most rational . . . and exemplary Christian." Thereafter, for a century or more, all discussion of free will and on the church as an enclave of the pure in an impure society had to begin with Edwards. His disciples, the "New Divinity" men--principally Samuel Hopkins of Great Barrington and Joseph Bellamy of Bethlehem, Connecticut--set out to defend his thought. Ezra Stiles, president of Yale, tried to keep his influence off the Yale Corporation, but Edwards's ideas spread beyond New Haven and sparked the religious revivals of the next decades. In the end, old Calvinism returned to Yale in the form of Nathaniel William Taylor, the Boston Unitarians captured Harvard, and Edwards's troublesome ghost was laid to rest. The debate on human freedom versus necessity continued, but theologians no longer controlled it. In Edwards on the Will, Guelzo presents with clarity and force the story of these fascinating maneuverings for the soul of New England and of the emerging nation.



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Published 17 March 2008
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EAN13 9781725221093
Language English
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The Jonathan Edwards Classic Studies Series
The Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University is pleased to offer this volume, in grateful cooperation with Wipf & Stock Publishers, as part of its mission to encourage ongoing research into and readership of one of America’s most original thinkers and one of its most significant historical and cultural figures. As much as the Edwards Center is devoted to presenting Edwards’s own writings in a comprehensive and authoritative online format, we also see providing secondary resources as vital to supporting an ongoing understanding of Edwards’s extensive and varied corpus, which can be accessed at http://edwards.yale.edu. Writings about Edwards’s life, thought, and legacy continue to accumulate from authors representing a broad range of disciplines and agendas. Within the voluminous secondary literature, the Edwards Center recognizes the importance of insuring that certain key works—which sadly have gone out of print but yet remain in demand—are available for new generations coming to the study of Edwards and are recognized for their worth. These monographs represent some of the very best and most pioneering studies of Edwards, his times, and his influence, from scholars over the past half century and more. Indeed, these works not only greatly influenced the study of Edwards but American history in general. We hope these landmark studies, ranging from biography to intellectual and social history to philosophy and theology, continue to be sources of inquiry and inspiration for decades to come.
Harry S. Stout Director The Jonathan Edwards Center Yale University
Jonathan Edwards ClassIc StudIes SerIes
The Young Jonathan Edwards by WIllIam Sparkes MorrIs WIth a new foreword by Kenneth MInkema
Jonathan Edwards, Pastor by PatrIcIa Tracy WIth a new preface by the author
Jonathan Edwards’s Moral Thought and Its British Context by Norman FIerIng WIth a new foreword by OlIver CrIsp
Beauty and Sensibility in the Thought of Jonathan Edwards by Roland A. Delattre WIth a new foreword by MIchael McClenahan
Religion and the American Mind by Alan HeImert WIth a new foreword by Andrew Delbanco
Samuel Hopkins and the New Divinity Movement by Joseph A. ConfortI WIth a new foreword by Douglas Sweeney
Edwards on the Will: A Century of Anglican Theological Debate by Allen C. Guelzo WIth a new preface/acknowledgements by the author
Jonathan Edwards: The First Critical Biography, 1889 by Alexander V. G. Allen WIth a new foreword by M. X. Lesser ______________________ Future volumes are forthcomIng. For current updates see http://edwards.yale. edu.
Wipf and Stock Publishers 199 W 8th Ave, Suite 3 Eugene, OR 97401 Edwards on the Will A Century of Anglican Theological Debate By Guelzo, Allen C. Copyright©1989 by Guelzo, Allen C. ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-717-6 ISBN 10: 1-55635-717-6 Publication date 11/9/2007 Previously published by Wesleyan University Press, 1989
Acknowledgements—Twenty Years Later
“One Is never quIte sure whether acknowledgements ought to go at the back or the front of a book.” LookIng back over the twenty years since I wrote that for the îrst edition ofEdwards on the Will, i have to admIt that i stIll have not arrIved at an answer. And for that reason these new acknowledgements wIll stay at the front, pending something more deînitive in the na-ture of a conclusIon—or a revelatIon. Edwards on the Willwas orIgInally conceIved as a doctoral dIssertatIon at the UnIversIty of PennsylvanIa In the 1980s, under the dIrectIon of Bruce KuklIck, who was then In the throes of producIng an opus that also stood In the shadow of Jonathan Edwards,Churchmen and Philosophers (1985). in the fall of 1980, Bruce led a graduate semInar on AmerIcan Intellectual history for eight of us students in his College Hall garret ofîce; the readIng lIst Included plentIful photocopIes of Nathanael Emmons, Samuel HopkIns, Henry Boynton SmIth, George A. Gordon—and not a sIngle readIng from Emerson, Thoreau, or WIllIam James. ThIs was a voyage of exploratIon Into the unfathomed waters of what Bruce later would call “the tradItIon of AmerIcan speculatIve thought,” and he explIcItly questIoned the standard constructIon of AmerIcan Intellectual hIstory, whIch was lIttle more than thIs: bad-CalvInIsts-whom-we’ve-gotten-rId-of, pre-pragmatIsts (FranklIn and Emerson), and then the pragmatIsts-we-know-and-love (James and Dewey), and
II PREFACE înally a smattering of heirs-of-the-pragmatists. This genealogy smacked a lIttle too convenIently, not to say exclusIvely, of Harvard and the envIrons of Boston. For someone lookIng to înd a trail of idealism in American thought (which Kuklick explIcated In larger detaIl InA History of Philosophy in America, 2000), as well as someone from Yale and Philadelphia, înding a metaphysIcal alternatIve to the FranklIn-to-Emerson-to-James inîeld was like înding the code to Minoan Linear-A. I made my îrst acquaintance with Jonathan Edwards’s Freedom of the WillIn an earlIer Penn semInar, thIs tIme wIth Larzar ZIff. A paper i wrote for ZIff onFreedom of the Willgot a mostly-apprecIatIve response, but wIth a quIzzIcal addendum— although my explIcatIon of Edwards’s arguments puzzled hIm, It was as good as anythIng else he’d heard, becauseFreedom of the Will Itself puzzled hIm. And the workispuzzlement a for many, If not most. Those expectIng to snIff the sulphurous aroma ofSinners in the Hands of an Angry GodInstead are treated to a lengthy and Involved analysIs of the language of volItIon, wIth some secondary IntrospectIve attentIon to the experience of willing; those looking for a document in the hIstory of determInIsm are treated to a lecture on the necessIty of theIsm as the only vIable context for atrue determinism; and those pursuing a triumphant justiîcation of Calvinism are staggered at înding themselves in the paws of an Enlightenment philosophe. ThatFreedom of the Willnot seem quIte so dId puzzlIng to me certaInly surprIsed Bruce KuklIck, and It was Bruce who, one afternoon as we were troopIng up to hIs semInar, turned at the staIrwell door and saId, “Why don’t you wrIte your dIssertatIon about Edwards on the wIll?” ThIs took me aback. i had orIgInally thought of wrItIng the dIssertatIon on Nathanael Emmons, partIcularly sInce Emmons remInded me so much of one of my beloved old preceptors, Robert KnIght Rudolph. But, as i had learned, the great obstacle to an Emmons dIssertatIon was the dearth of Emmons papers and manuscrIpts. So It was to Freedom of the Willi turned. Many of the people I thanked twenty years ago have gone on to dIfferent and varIed thIngs. Peter Potter—the edItor at