The Freedom of the Will (Vol. 1-4)
eBook - ePub

The Freedom of the Will (Vol. 1-4)

Jonathan Edwards

  1. 303 pagine
  2. English
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eBook - ePub

The Freedom of the Will (Vol. 1-4)

Jonathan Edwards

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Informazioni sul libro

The Freedom of the Will is a work by Christian reformer, theologian, and author Jonathan Edwards which uses the text of Romans 9: 16 as its basis. It was first published in 1754 and examines the nature and the status of humanity's will. The book takes the classic Calvinist viewpoint on total depravity of the will and the need of humanity for God's grace in salvation. Although written long before the modern introduction and debate over Open Theism, Edwards' work addresses many of the concerns that have been raised today over this view. Edwards responded that a person may freely choose whatever seems good, but that whatever it is that seems good is based on an inherent predisposition that has been foreordained by God.

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Jonathan Edwards

The Freedom of the Will (Vol. 1-4)

e-artnow, 2018
Contact: [email protected]
ISBN 978-80-268-9646-3
Editorial note: This eBook follows the original text.

Table of Contents

Part I.
Section 1. Concerning The Nature Of The Will.
Section 2. Concerning The Determination Of The Will.
Section 3. Concerning The Meaning Of The Terms Necessity, Impossibility, Inability, &C; And Of Contingence.
Section 4. Of The Distinction Of Natural And Moral Necessity, And Inability.
Section 5. Concerning The Notion Of Liberty, And Of Moral Agency.
Part II.
Section I. Showing The Manifest Inconsistence Of The Arminian Notion Of Liberty Of Will, Consisting In The Will's Self-Determining Power.
Section 2. Several Supposed Ways Of Evading The Forgoing Reasoning, Considered.
Section 3. Whether Any Event Whatsoever, And Volition In Particular, Can Come To Pass Without A Cause Of Its Existence.
Section 4. Whether Volition Can Arise Without A Cause, Through The Activity Of The Nature Of The Soul.
Section 5. Showing, That If The Things Asserted In These Evasions Should Be Supposed To Be True, They Are Altogether Impertinent, And Can't Help The Cause Of Arminian Liberty.
Section 6. Concerning The Will's Determining In Things Which Are Perfectly Indifferent, In The View Of The Mind.
Section 7. Concerning The Notion Of Liberty Of Will Consisting In Indifference.
Section 8. Concerning The Supposed Liberty Of The Will, As Opposite To All Necessity.
Section 9. Of The Connection Of The Acts Of The Will With The Dictates Of The Understanding.
Section 10. Volition Necessarily Connected With The Influence Of Motives.
Section 11. The Evidence Of God's Certain Foreknowledge Of The Volitions Of Moral Agents.
Section 12. God's Certain Foreknowledge Of The Future Volitions Of Moral Agents, Inconsistent With Such A Contingence Of Those Volitions, As Is Without All Necessity.
Section 13. 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.
Part III.
Section 1. God's Moral Excellency Necessary, Yet Virtuous And Praise-Worthy.
Section 2. The Acts Of The Will Of The Human Soul Of Jesus Christ Necessarily Holy, Yet Truly Virtuous, Praise-Worthy, Rewardable, &C.
Section 3. 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 Blame-Worthiness.
Section 4. Command, And Obligation To Obedience, Consistent With Moral Inability To Obey.
Section 5. That Sincerity Of Desires And Endeavours, Which Is Supposed To Excuse In The Non-Performance Of Things In Themselves Good, Particularly Considered.
Section 6. Liberty Of Indifference, Not Only Not Necessary To Virtue, But Utterly Inconsistent With It; And All, Either Virtuous Or Vicious Habits Or Inclinations.
Section 7. Arminian Notions Of Moral Agency Inconsistent With All Influence Of Motive And Inducement, In Either Virtuous Or Vicious Actions.
Part IV.
Section 1. 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.
Section 2. 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.
Section 3. 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.
Section 4. 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.
Section 5. Concerning Those Objections, That This Scheme Of Necessity Renders All Means And Endeavours For The Avoiding Of Sin, Or The Obtaining Virtue And Holiness.
Section 6. Concerning That Objection Against The Doctrine Which Has Been Maintained, That It Agrees With The Stoical Doctrine Of Fate, And The Opinions Of Mr. Hobbes.
Section 7. Concerning The Necessity Of The Divine Will.
Section 8. Some Further Objections Against The Moral Necessity Of God's Volitions Considered.
Section 9. Concerning That Objection Against The Doctrine Which Has Been Maintained, That It Makes God The Author Of Sin.
Section 10. Concerning Sin's First Entrance Into The World.
Section 11. Of A Supposed Inconsistence Of These Principles, With God's Moral Character.
Section 12. Of A Supposed Tendency Of These Principles To Atheism And Licentiousness.
Section 13. Concerning That Objection Against The Reasoning, By Which The Calvinistic Doctrine Is Supported, That It Is Metaphysical And Abstruse.


Table of Contents
Many find much fault with calling professing Christians, that differ one from another in some matters of opinion, by distinct names; especially calling them by the names of particular men, who have distinguished themselves as maintainers and promoters of those opinions: as calling some professing Christians Arminians, from Arminius; others Arians, from Arius; others Socinians, from Socinus, and the like. They think it unjust in itself; as it seems to suppose and suggest, that the persons marked out by these names, received those doctrines which they entertain, out of regard to, and reliance on, those men after whom they are named; as though they made them their rule; in the same manner, as the followers of christ are called Christians, after his name, whom they regard and depend upon, as their great Head and Rule. Whereas, this is an unjust and groundless imputation on those that go under the forementioned denominations. Thus, say they, there is not the least ground to suppose, that the chief divines, who embrace the scheme of doctrine which is, by many, called Arminianismt believe it the more, because Arminius believed it: and that there is no reason to think any other, than that they sincerely and impartially study the Holy Scriptures, and inquire after the mind of Christ, with as much judgment and sincerity, as any of those that call them by these names; that they seek after truth, and are not careful whether they think exactly as Arminius did; yea, that, in some things, they actually differ from him. This practice is also esteemed actually injurious on this account, that it is supposed naturally to lead the multitude to imagine the difference between persons thus named, and others, to be greater than it is; so great, as if they were another species of beings. And they object against it as arising from an uncharitable, narrow, contracted spirit; which, they say, commonly inclines persons to confine all that is good to themselves, and their own party, and to make a wide distinction between themselves and others, and stigmatize those that differ from them with odious names. They say, moreover, that the keeping up such a distinction of names, has a direct tendency to uphold distance and disaffection, and keep alive mutual hatred among Christians, who ought all to be united in friendship and charity, though they cannot, in all things, think alike.
I confess, these things are very plausible; and I will not deny, that there are some unhappy consequences of this distinction of names, and that men’s infirmities and evil dispositions often make an ill improvement of it. But yet, I humbly conceive, these objections are carried far beyond reason. The generality of mankind are disposed enough, and a great deal too much, to uncharitableness, and to be censorious and bitter towards those that differ from them in religious opinions: which evil temper of mind will take occasion to exert itself from many things in themselves innocent, useful, and necessary. But yet there is no necessity to suppose, that our thus distinguishing persons of different opinions by different names, arises mainly from an uncharitable spirit. It may arise from the disposition there is in mankind (whom God has distinguished with an ability and inclination for speech) to improve the benefit of language, in the proper use and design of names, given to things of which they have often occasion to speak, which is to enable them to express their ideas with ease and expedition, without being encumbered with an obscure and difficult circumlocution. And our thus distinguishing persons of different opinions in religious matters may not imply any more, than that there is a difference; a difference of which we find we have often occasion to take notice: and it is always a defect in language, in such cases, to be obliged to make use of a description, instead of a name. Thus we have often occasion to speak of those who are the descendants of the ancient inhabitants of France, in distinction from the descendants of the inhabitants of Spain; and find the great convenience of those distinguishing words, French and Spaniard; by which the signification of our minds is quick and easy, and our speech is delivered from the burden of a continual reiteration of diffuse descriptions, with which it must otherwise be embarrassed.
That there is occasion to speak often concerning the difference of those, who in their general scheme of divinity agree with these two noted men, Calvin and Arminius, is what the practice of the latter confesses; who are often, in their discourses and writings, taking notice of the supposed absurd and pernicious opinions of the former sort. And therefore the making use of different names in this case cannot reasonably be objected against, as a thing which must come from so bad a cause as they assign. It is easy to be accounted for, without supposing it to arise from any other source, than the exigence of the case, whereby mankind express those things, which they have frequent occasion to mention, by certain distinguishing names. It is an effect, similar to what we see in cases innumerable, where the cause is not at all blameworthy.
Nevertheless, at first, I had thoughts of carefully avoiding the use of the appellation, Arminian, in this Treatise. But I soon found I should be put to great difficulty by it; and that my discourse would be too much encumbered with circumlocution, instead of a name, which would better express the thing intended. And therefore I must ask the excuse of such as are apt to be offended with things of this nature, that I have so freely used the term Arminian in the following Discourse. I profess it to be without any design to stigmatize persons of any sort with a name of reproach, or at all to make them appear more odious. If, when I had occasion to speak of those divines who are commonly called by this name, I had, instead of styling them Arminians, called them ” these men“ as Dr. Whitby does Calvinistic divines, it probably would not have been taken any better, or thought to show a better temper, or more good manners. I have done as I would be done by, in this matter. However the term Calvinistic is, in these days, among most, a term of greater reproach than the term Arminian; yet I should not take it at all amiss, to be called a Calvinist, for distinction’s sake: though I utterly disclaim a dependence on Calvin, or believing the doctrines which I hold, because he believed and taught them; and cannot justly be charged with believing in every thing just as he taught.
But, lest I should really be an occasion of injury to some persons, I would here give notice, that though I generally speak of that doctrine, concerning free-will and moral agency, which I oppose as an Arminian doctrine; yet I would not be understood as asserting, that every divine or author, whom I have occasion to mention as maintaining that doctrine, was properly an Arminian, or one of that sort which is commonly called by that name. Some of them went far beyond the Arminians; and I would by no means charge Arminians in general with all the corrupt doctrine which these maintained. Thus, for instance, it would be very injurious, if I should rank Arminian divines, in general, with such authors as Mr. Chubb. I doubt not, many of them have some of his doctrines in abhorrence; though he agrees, for the most part, with Arminians, in his notion of the Freedom of the Will. And, on the other hand, though I suppose this notion to be a leading article in the Arminian scheme, that which, if pursued in its consequences, will truly infer, or naturally lead to all the rest; yet I do not charge all that have held this doctrine, with being Arminians. For whatever may be the consequences of the doctrine really, yet some that hold this doctrine, may not own nor see these consequences; and it would be unjust, in many instances, to charge every author with believing and maintaining all the real consequences of his avowed doctrines. And I desire it may be particularly noted, that though I have occasion, in the following Discourse, often to mention the author of the book, entitled An Essay on the Freedom of the Will, in God and the Creature, as holding that notion of Freedom of Will, which I oppose; yet I do not mean to call him an Arminian: however, in that doctrine he agrees with Arminians, and departs from the current and general opinion of Calvinists. If the author of that Essay be the same as it is commonly ascribed to, he doubtless was not one that ought to bear that name. But however good a divine he was in many respects, yet that particular Arminian doctrine which he maintained, is never the better for being held by such an one: nor is there less need of opposing it on that account, but rather more; as it will be likely to have the more pernicious influence, for being taught by a divine of his name and character; supposing the doctrine to be wrong, and in itself to be of an ill tendency.
I have nothing further to say by way of preface; but only to bespeak the reader’s candour, and calm attention to what I have written. The subject is of such importance, as to demand attention, and the most thorough consideration. Of all kinds of knowledge that we can ever obtain, the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of ourselves, are the most important. As religion is the great business for which we are created, and on which our happiness depends; and as religion consists in an intercourse between ourselves and our Maker; and so has its foundation in God’s nature and ours, and in the relation that God and we stand in to each other; therefore a true knowledge of both must be needful, in order to true religion. But the knowledge of ourselves consists chiefly in right apprehensions concerning those two chief faculties of our nature, the understanding and will. Both are very important: yet the science of the latter must be confessed to be of greatest moment; inasmuch as all virtue and religion have their seat more immediately in the will, consisting more especially in right acts and habits of this faculty. And the grand question about the Freedom of the Will, is the main point that belongs to the science of the Will. Therefore, I say, the importance of the subject greatly demands the attention of Christians, and especially of divines. But as to my manner of handling the subject, I would be far from presuming to say, that it is such as demands the attention of the reader to what I have written. I am ready to own, that in this matter I depend on the reader’s courtesy. But only thus for I may have some colour for putting in a claim; that if the reader be disposed to pass his censure on what I have written, I may be fully and patiently heard, and well attended to, before I am condemned. However, this is what I would humbly ask of my readers; together with the prayers of all sincere lovers of truth, that I may have much of that Spirit which Christ promised his disciples, which guides into all truth; and that the blessed and powerful influences of this Spirit would make truth victorious in the world.

Part I.

Table of Contents


Section 1.
Concerning The Nature Of The Will.

Table of Contents
It may possibly be thought, that there is no great need of going about to define or describe the Will; this word being generally as well understood as any other words we can use to explain it: and so perhaps it would be, had not philosophers, metaphysicians, and polemic divines, brought the matter into obscurity by the things they have said of it. But since it is so, I think it may be of some use, and will tend to greater clearness in the following discourse, to say a few things concerning it.
And therefore I observe, that the Will (without any metaphysical refining) is, That by which the mind chooses any thing. The faculty of the Will, is that power, or principle of mind, by which it is capable of choosing: an act of the Will is the same as an act of choosing or choice.
If any think it is a more perfect definition of the Will, to say, that it is that by which the soul either chooses or refuses; I am content with it: though I think it enough to say, It is that by which the soul chooses: for in every act of Will whatsoever, the mind chooses one thing rather than another; it chooses something rather than the contrary or rather than the want or non-existence of that thing. So in every act of refusal, the mind chooses the absence of the thing refused; the positive and the negative are set before the mind for its choice, and it chooses the negative; and the mind’s making its choice in that case is properly the act of the Will: the Will’s determining between the two, is a voluntary determination; but that is the same thing as making a choice. So ...

Indice dei contenuti

  1. The Freedom of the Will (Vol. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents