"THE MOST IMPORTANT TEXT EDWARDS WROTE IN THE STOCKBRIDGE YEARS, AND THE ONE OFTEN USED TO MARK HIS PLACE IN THE HISTORY OF IDEAS": 1754 FIRST EDITION OF JONATHAN EDWARDS' ENQUIRY INTO THE MODERN PREVAILING NOTIONS OF FREEDOM OF WILL
EDWARDS, Jonathan. A Careful and Strict Enquiry into the Modern Prevailing Notions of that Freedom of Will, which is Supposed to be Essential to Moral Agency, Vertue and Vice, Reward and Punishment, Praise and Blame. Boston: S. Kneeland, 1754. Octavo, contemporary full dark brown paneled calf rebacked with original spine laid down, raised bands. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. $9200.
Rare first edition of the famous 18th-century American theologian's treatise arguing for the centrality of freedom of will, in contemporary binding.
Best known as the prominent Calvinist theologian from whose pulpit the first stirrings of the Great Awakening flowed, Jonathan Edwards was a "philosophizing divine… His theological treatises abound in philosophical reflections, all of which were intended to clarify and defend his theological positions. For him the arts, sciences and philosophy ideally had no status separate from theology" (Edwards 1:460). "The most important text Edwards wrote in the Stockbridge years, and the one often used to mark his place in the history of ideas, was A Careful and Strict Enquiry into the Modern Prevailing Notions of That Freedom of Will (1754). The argument turned on a definition of freedom: Edwards followed custom and labeled it as the lack of restraint to do what one wills… Consistent with the philosophical theology of his whole career, Edwards argued that only the regenerate person can truly choose the transcendent Good and that choice can be made only through a 'disposition' that God infuses in the process of regeneration. Edwards rejected Hobbes's materialism along with the utilitarianism of most free-will advocates: the only freedom worth having was choosing what was 'excellent,' and that was only divine. The best argument that determinism did not obviate blame—or praiseworthiness—was Jesus, whose obedience was inevitable but still praiseworthy" (ANB). Johnson-Lesser 311. Evans 9962. Bookplate.
Scattered light foxing to text, marginal paper flaw to page 235. Handsome contemporary binding with expert restoration to spine ends. An exceptional copy of an important work.