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He isn't a pantheist because the relation between God and the world is construed as a relation between a creative volition and its immediate effects. Edwards' model is not a whole and its parts, or a substance a bearer of properties and its properties, or an essence and its accidents, but agent causality. Edwards never doubted that God's end is himself. God's ultimate aim in all his works must therefore be himself. Edwards concludes that he creates the world for his own glory.

Jonathan Edwards (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

End of Creation reconciles these claims. In pursuing his own glory, God thus takes both himself and the creature's good as ultimate aims. Happiness consists in the knowledge and love of God, and joy in him. An apparent consequence is that God must create a world to display his glory. Whether Edwards was aware of these consequences is uncertain. The two most common objections to them, however, — that they imply that there isn't any real contingency and that God isn't free — would not have troubled him.

For Edwards thought that our world displays neither contra-causal freedom nor real indeterminacy. He also believed that moral agency and freedom are compatible with metaphysical necessity. Edwards believes that this is the only kind of freedom that is either relevant to moral agency or worth having. True virtue aims at the good of being in general and therefore also prizes the disposition that promotes it.

Truly virtuous people thus love two things — being and benevolence. One of the principal concerns of Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, et al. Edwards' attitude toward these attempts is ambivalent. On the one hand, he denies that the truly benevolent are motivated by self-love. On the other, Edwards argues against, e. Conscience, for instance, is the product of a power of placing ourselves in the situation of others which is needed for any sort of mutual understanding , a sense of the natural fitness of certain responses injury and punishment or disapproval, benefit and reward or approval , and self-love.

Placing ourselves in the situation of those we have injured, we recognize that being treated in that way would not merely anger us but seem unfitting or undeserved, and that we are therefore inconsistent in approving of our treating others in ways we would not wish to be treated ourselves. Edwards is inclined to think that all except pity are forms of self-love.

The important point, however, is that even if they aren't, actions motivated by them aren't truly virtuous. To see why consider pity. Now pity is directed to those in extreme distress whose suffering appears undeserved or excessive. Its object is therefore restricted to only part of being in general. Pity, for example, may motivate a judge to act unjustly.

We should not conclude that pity or other instinctual affections, or even rational self-love, are bad. Edwards point like Kant's is merely that their goodness isn't a truly moral goodness. The implication is nonetheless clear.

Jonathan Edwards Sermon - God's Sovereignty in the Salvation of Men (Part 1 of 6)

Natural virtues are either tainted with self-love or fail to extend to being in general. They are therefore counterfeits or simulacra of true virtue. Edwards concludes that true virtue is a supernatural gift. Love's scope can be narrower or wider, however. Only true benevolence, therefore, is truly beautiful. Since God's benevolence alone is perfect, he is the only thing that is truly beautiful without qualification.

The fitness of God's dispensations, the harmony of his providential design, and so on, also exhibit the highest degree of secondary beauty. The saints alone, however, can discern true beauty. Because their hearts have been regenerated by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the saints love being in general. At other times he identifies it with the consent of being to being, i. His view appears to be this. True beauty is identical with benevolence or agreement in somewhat the same way in which water is identical with H 2 O or heat with molecular motion. But benevolence is also the objective basis of a dispositional property, namely, a tendency to produce a new simple idea in the savingly converted.

Edwards' account of true beauty thus resembles some accounts of color or extension.

to proclaim old truth

Spiritual delight is a simple idea or sensation like our ideas of color or extension. The dispositional property is a power objects have to produce these ideas in our understandings. Benevolence is the objective configuration underlying this power and corresponds to the microstructure of bodies that underlie their tendency to excite ideas of color or extension in minds like ours. For example, a conviction of Christ's sufficiency as a mediator depends on an apprehension of his beauty and excellency.


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The new sense also helps us grasp the truth of the gospel scheme as a whole. Edwards' defense of the objectivity of the new spiritual sense has four steps. The world is an interconnected system of minds and ideas in which the only true substance and cause is an infinite and omnipotent love. Human benevolence is thus an appropriate or fitting response to reality.

Since benevolence is an appropriate response to reality, so too is benevolence's delight in benevolence. There is also an implicit theological defense of the spiritual sense's objectivity. There were Puritan precedents for these claims. Edwards is making two claims. First, the new spiritual disposition and tastes which God bestows on the soul are divine.

Jonathan Edwards (1703 - 1758)

The differences between God's love and joy and the love and joy that he bestows on his saints is a difference of degree, not of nature or kind. Hence, since God in some sense is reality or being itself, it follows that the spiritual sense is necessarily aligned with reality. Edwards thinks that reason can prove that God exists, establish many of his attributes, discern our obligations to him, and mount a probable case for the credibility of scripture. His view is briefly this. Since accurate reasoning about a subject matter requires attending to actual ideas of it, one can't accurately reason about religion if one lack the relevant actual ideas.

To have an actual idea of God, for example, one must have actual ideas of the ideas that compose it. But most of us don't. Those parts of the idea of God that everyone has ideas of knowledge, power, and justice, for instance either aren't attended to or, if they are, fail to elicit the appropriate affective reaction.

In addition, we can't fully understand ideas of affections which we haven't experienced and so can't properly understand God's benevolence if we aren't benevolent ourselves. And without the simple idea of true beauty, one can understand neither God's holiness nor the facts that depend on it. True benevolence remedies these deficiencies.

Because the desires of the truly benevolent are properly ordered, they attend to ideas of religion and are suitably affected by the ideas of God's attributes and activities that everyone has. They fear his wrath, for example, and are grateful for his benefits. Furthermore, they understand God's benevolence because their own benevolence mirrors it. Finally, the truly benevolent delight in the benevolence in which holiness consists, i. Edwards' claim, then, is that to reason accurately about God one must have an actual idea of him, and to have that one must be truly benevolent.

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Right reasoning about religious matters requires right affections. Edwards is an evidentialist. Rational religious beliefs are either properly basic or rest on good evidence. A belief that the gospel scheme exhibits true beauty is an example of the former. But most religious beliefs depend on evidence.

Sometimes this evidence includes the idea of true beauty. Even when it does not, however, the right affections are needed to appreciate its force. In either case, only those with properly disposed hearts can read the evidence correctly. A number of New Englanders were shaken by the revivals but not converted, and became convinced of their inexorable damnation.

Edwards wrote that "multitudes" felt urged—presumably by Satan—to take their own lives. It is not known if any others took their own lives, but the "suicide craze" [22] effectively ended the first wave of revival, except in some parts of Connecticut. However, despite these setbacks and the cooling of religious fervor, word of the Northampton revival and Edwards's leadership role had spread as far as England and Scotland. It was at this time that Edwards was acquainted with George Whitefield , who was traveling the Thirteen Colonies on a revival tour in — The two men may not have seen eye to eye on every detail.

Whitefield was far more comfortable with the strongly emotional elements of revival than Edwards was, but they were both passionate about preaching the Gospel. They worked together to orchestrate Whitefield's trip, first through Boston and then to Northampton. When Whitefield preached at Edwards's church in Northampton, he reminded them of the revival they had experienced just a few years before.

Revival began to spring up again, and Edwards preached his most famous sermon " Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God ", in Enfield, Connecticut in Though this sermon has been widely reprinted as an example of " fire and brimstone " preaching in the colonial revivals, this is not in keeping with Edward's actual preaching style. Edwards did not shout or speak loudly, but talked in a quiet, emotive voice. He moved his audience slowly from point to point, towards an inexorable conclusion: they were lost without the grace of God.

While most 21st-century readers notice the damnation looming in such a sermon text, historian George Marsden reminds us that Edwards' was not preaching anything new or surprising: "Edwards could take for granted The problem was getting them to seek it. The movement met with opposition from conservative Congregationalist ministers. In , Edwards published in its defense The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God , dealing particularly with the phenomena most criticized: the swoonings, outcries, and convulsions.

These "bodily effects," he insisted, were not distinguishing marks of the work of the Spirit of God one way or another; but so bitter was the feeling against the revival in the more strictly Puritan churches, that in , he was forced to write a second apology, Thoughts on the Revival in New England, where his main argument concerned the great moral improvement of the country. In the same pamphlet, he defends an appeal to the emotions, and advocates preaching terror when necessary, even to children, who in God's sight "are young vipers He considers "bodily effects" incidental to the real work of God, but his own mystic devotion and the experiences of his wife during the Awakening which he gives in detail make him think that the divine visitation usually overpowers the body, a view in support of which he quotes Scripture.

In these works, he urged conduct as the sole test of conversion, and the general convention of Congregational ministers in the Province of Massachusetts Bay protested "against disorders in practice which have of late obtained in various parts of the land. To offset this feeling, Edwards preached at Northampton, during the years and , a series of sermons published under the title of Religious Affections , a restatement in a more philosophical and general tone of his ideas as to "distinguishing marks.