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Freedom of the Will Hardcover – November 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Edwards was born in East Windsor, Connecticut, to Timothy Edwards, pastor of East Windsor, and Esther Edwards. The only son in a family of eleven children, he entered Yale in September, 1716 when he was not yet thirteen and graduated four years later (1720) as valedictorian. He received his Masters three years later. As a youth, Edwards was unable to accept the Calvinist sovereignty of God. However, in 1721 he came to the conviction, one he called a "delightful conviction." He was meditating on 1 Timothy 1:17, and later remarked, "As I read the words, there came into my soul, and was as it were diffused through it, a sense of the glory of the Divine Being; a new sense, quite different from any thing I ever experienced before… I thought with myself, how excellent a Being that was, and how happy I should be, if I might enjoy that God, and be rapt up to him in heaven; and be as it were swallowed up in him for ever!" From that point on, Edwards delighted in the sovereignty of God. In 1727 he was ordained minister at Northampton and assistant to his maternal grandfather, Solomon Stoddard. He was a student minister, not a visiting pastor, his rule being thirteen hours of study a day. In the same year, he married Sarah Pierpont, then age seventeen, daughter of James Pierpont (1659–1714), a founder of Yale, originally called the Collegiate School. In total, Jonathan and Sarah had eleven children. Throughout his time in Northampton his preaching brought remarkable religious revivals. Jonathan Edwards was a key figure in what has come to be called the First Great Awakening of the 1730s and 1740s. Edwards was dismissed over the issue of open communion in 1750. He then moved to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, then a frontier settlement, where he ministered to a small congregation and served as missionary to the Housatonic Indians. There, having more time for study and writing, he completed his celebrated work, The Freedom of the Will (1754). Edwards was elected president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) in early 1758. On March 22, 1758, he died of fever at the age of fifty-four following experimental inoculation for smallpox and was buried in the President's Lot in the Princeton cemetery beside his son-in-law, Aaron Burr. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Cosimo Classics (November 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602069174
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602069176
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,748,653 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

124 of 133 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Jonathan Edwards is one of the greatest thinkers in American history, and while "Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God" has become his most famous work, "The Freedom of the Will" is his best. Two and a half centuries after Edwards wrote it, this book is still the premiere and most thorough argument for the complete sovereignty of God.
"The Freedom of the Will" is a challenging read and might be too hard for people new to the debate between Calvinists and Arminians. It would take too long to outline the entire argument Edwards makes or recap every point he touches on, but what follows are some examples of the ideas and questions raised by Edwards in this book.
1) It is alleged by Arminian belief that a person or action cannot be morally good (or bad) if the agent performing the action is incapable of doing otherwise. But can God be evil? The Bible teaches that He is not only holy, just, and perfect, but that He knows everything that has happened and everything that is to come. So can He do or be evil, or is His will and nature necessarily determined to be perfectly good? If God is capable of doing evil, and not necessarily good, then how can He assure us that He will be perfect for all eternity (if one day, He might choose not to be)? And if He is necessarily determined to be perfectly good forever and cannot be otherwise, does this make God any less holy, perfect, and morally virtuous? As a corollary to this, if He is no less praise-worthy by being necessarily holy, are we, as fallen human beings born into sinfulness, any less blame-worthy if we are necessarily inclined to evil, incapable of willing what is truly good?
2) Another area Edwards focuses on is discussing the Arminian contention that the will actually is free.
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39 of 45 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is truly one of the greatest works written. Daniel Webster wrote: "The Freedom of the Will" by Mr. Edwards is the greatest achievement of the human intellect." The London Quarterly Review wrote about this work: "His gigantic specimen of theological argument is as near to perfection as we may expect any human composition to approach. He unites the sharpness of the scimetar [sic] and the strength of the battle-axe." A former President of Princeton said that Edwards was "The greatest thinker that America has produced."
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Stratiotes Doxha Theon VINE VOICE on December 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
We are free to do what we desire - but our desires are enslaved to sin ensuring that our "will" is no longer truly free. So argues Jonathan Edwards, considered by many to be America's premier philosopher and theologian. Few have given this difficult topic the kind of attention and logical sophistication that Dr. Edwards did in this treatise. Whether we are students of Calvin, Luther, Augustine, or Aquinas, there is much in this work we can appreciate from this giant of American intellects. This is not for the casual theological/philosophical mind but requires a great deal of concentration to grasp. The somewhat anachronistic 18th century language gives the work even more challenge. But the deeper appreciation of God's providence and grace will be it's own reward. These are not the doctrines of fatalism as another reviewer has described. These are the doctrines of a God who reaches out to mankind in our helpless state. It is by grace and grace alone that we can know and serve God only by the movement of His Holy Spirit in our lives. There may be subtle differences between the great thinkers on this topic (mentioned earlier) but none deny the essential truth that mankind is lost and finds no rest until it rests in Him. Essential reading for philosophers and theologians alike.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey A. Thompson VINE VOICE on July 31, 2009
Format: Paperback
I'm not a very smart guy. It took every ounce of my resolve to get through this book. I didn't understand all the arguments. However, I have a far better understanding of the Calvinist position on predestination. I learned a lot about how to construct logical argument. One of his main techniques is precisely defining his terms; for example, what exactly is "the will." He then shows how Arminians define the term in self-contradictory ways. I found "Religious Affections" much more convicting and accessible, but Edwards demonstrates his penetrating intellect more in "Freedom of the Will.". I would suggest planning to spend a lot of time trying to understand the arguments in this book.

This particular edition has a lot of typos. Something about "Cod's majestic glory" made me chuckle. Another problem is that there is no explanation by the publisher. Footnotes go on for pages and then are signed by "-W" Is this Edwards? Is this somebody else?

Great book. I don't know if it would convince a die hard Arminian, but the book makes me meditate on the nature of God and his relationship with creation and his creatures. Is God the author of evil? How can we be held responsible for moral choices when we are morally deficient to make good choices? What is human will?

I definitely need to go through the book again.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Leon C. Stansfield on May 5, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I ordered this book, same cover, about a month ago through Amazon and have begun reading it. I read some of it aloud to my wife, as I enjoy reading aloud. I have reached page 26. Here is what I have discovered: (1) Jonathan Edwards is very difficult to read. His thoughts are intricate and detailed. He was very intelligent, but his writing is not for the ordinary reader. (2) This particular printing --- Copyright 2011 ISBN 978-1463659899 --- was quite obviously typeset and printed without anyone taking the time to proofread the text for obvious errors. For example, on page 20, paragraph 2, second sentence, I find this: [my suggested corrections in brackets]

"For that which is possessed of no will, cannot have any paver [power]or opportunity of doing according to its mill, [will] nor be necessitated to act contrary to its will . . ." Near the end of the same paragraph is the this:
". . . but not that the bird's power of flying has a power arid [and] Liberty of flying."

Then in the next paragraph we find this: "But that which has no will, cannot be subject of these things, -- I need say the less on this bead [head], Mr. Locke having set the same thing forth . . ."

When one is seeking to gain a knowledge of Mr. Edwards' thoughts it is disturbing to have to try to figure out what the original text actually says. As a publisher of numerous books via lulu.com , most of which I market via my own website and which includes two books [Luther on Human Will, and The Bondage of the Will] for which the text was meticulously copied from, or abridged from, other texts, I think I have a duty to report this kind of poor workmanship.

I also found typos on pages 9, 14, 17, 18, 19, 23 and 24.
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