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of the Will, may be taken as an example of the most that had been done, to settle the opinions of the orthodox, and refute their opposers, on this subject, before this period. His defect, and that of his followers until the time of Mr. Edwards, is seen in this one thing: that they insisted on the great fact, merely, that the will of man was not in a state of indifference, but so strongly fixed in its choice, as to require supernatural grace for conversion ; overlooking, in a great measure, the nature of moral agency, and what is essential to its nature. Their opposers, on the contrary, were constantly affirming, that freedom of will was necessary to moral agency, and carried their views to the extent, that the will determined itself, and could not be enslaved. In this state of ethical and theological science, Mr. Edwards set himself to the task of examining the great subject of Moral Agency, as connected with the human will : and, by the precision of his definitions and statements, the cogency of his reasonings, the fulness of his illustrations, the thorough handling of all objections, and the application of his views to many scriptural truths, he placed the grand points of his subject in a light so overwhelmingly convincing, as to leave little room for any doubt or dispute afterwards.
In this Treatise it is contended, that the power of choosing, or willing, does itself constitute freedom of agency; and that particular acts of will are determined, i. e. are rendered certain, or become such as they are, rather than otherwise, by some sufficient cause or reason, in perfect consistency with their being acts of will, or in perfect consistency with that power of willing which constitutes freedom of agency. On the ground that the power of willing pertains to man, the author asserts a Natural Ability, which is the just occasion of precept, invitation, etc., or of the will of God being addressed to him; and on the ground, that his acts of will are rendered certain, by a suflicient cause, the author asserts a Moral Inability. The principal point contended for, and which is most essential to the defence of the Calvinistic scheme of faith, in distinction from the Arminian, is the latter one, that the acts of the will are rendered certain, by some other causė than the mere power of willing. What the particular cause, or causes, may be, is not particularly considered; but this question is dismissed with a few brief remarks. The fact, that there is, and must be, some such cause, is the great subject argued, and most powerfully demonstrated. This cause he asserts is the foundation of necessity, in the sense merely of certainty, of action, and does not therefore destroy natural ability, or the power of choice, nor imply that man acis otherwise than electively, or by choice; so that it is a necessits consistent with accountability, demerit, or the contrary, and so with rewards and punishments. He asserts that all such terms is must, cannot, impossible, unable, irresistible, unavoidable, inrincible, etc., when applied here, are not applied in their proper signiti
cation, and are either used nonsensically, and with perfect insignificance, or in a sense quite diverse from their proper and original
, meaning, and their use in common speech; and that such a necessity, as attends the acts of men's wills, is more properly called certainty, than necessity.
Rightly to understand this controversy, it must be observed, that he and his opponents, alike, considered sin to consist in acts of will. Had this not been the case, it would have been idle for Mr. Edwards to have confined himself, in his whole treatise, to acts of choice, and the manner in which they are determined, i. e. rendered certain. He must, in that case, have agitated the previous question, respecting acts of choice themselves; and have asserted and maintained, that something else of specifically a different nature, enters into moral character, and forms the ground of praise. and blame, or retribution. But the question, which he considered to be at issue, is this : Does the mind will, in any given manner, without a motive, cause or ground, which renders the given choice, rather than a different choice, certain. Whitby, the writer whom he especially has in view, in his remarks on the Freedom of Man, asserts, that man, by his own activity alone, decides the choice. Mr. Edwards acknowledges that man chooses, but asserts, in opposition to the opinion of Whitby, and those who side with him, that there must be some other ground or cause, beside the mere activity of man, or his power of choosing, which occasions his choosing in one manner, rather than another. He asserts that, “doubtless common sense requires men's being the authors of their own acts of will, in order to their being esteemed worthy of praise or dispraise, on account of them.” The very act of volition, itself, is doubtless a determination; i. e. it is the mind's drawing up a conclusion, or coming to a choice, between two things or more, proposed to it. But determining, among external objects of choice, is not the same, as determining the act of choice itself, among various possible acts of choice. The question is, What influences, directs or determines, the mind or will, to such a conclusion or choice as it does form? Or what is the cause, ground, or reason, why it concludes thus, and not otherwise ? This is the question, on his own statement.
In the latter part of February, 1754, a letter was received from Mr. Hollis, by Mr. Edwards, containing his explicit directions, as to the School, for which he had expended so much money, to so little purpose. By this letter, Mr. Hollis withdrew the care of the school, and the expenditure of his benefactions, from the hands of those, who had had the charge of them, and placed them in the hands of Mr. Edwards. On the 25th, Mr. Edwards enclosed a copy of this letter, in a note to the provincial agent, requesting, from him, an account of the existing state of the school, and of the furniture and books, belonging to it. On the 27th, he went to the school, to examine into its actual condition, and found in it sir Indian boys. The following day, he mentioned this fact, in a second note to the agent, and informed him, that, as the Mohawks had long had the resolution to leave Stockbridge, early in the spring, he had appointed a conference with them, on the 1st of March, to learn whether they still persisted in that resolution ; to the end, that, if they did so, he might suspend any farther expense upon them, on Mr. Hollis' account. At this conference, which was held with all the Mohawks, men, women and children, in the presence of many of the people of the town, they informed him, that they had all agreed in the autumn, that they would return, in the spring, to their own country; and that this agreement was owing to the determination of the Council of their nation, the Sachems of the Conneenchees, and could not be altered, unless by a new determination of their Sachems. Of this, he
* Many benevolent men, on being apprized of such a wanton and shameful porversion of the funds, appropriated by themselves to a given charity, woull, at once, have wholly discontinued their benefactions; but the benevolence of Mr. Hollis, like a living and copious fountain, could neither be dried up, nor obstructed.
Of this, he gave the agent due notice, the day following, as well as of his purpose to expend none of Mr. Hollis' money upon them, so long as they persisted in that resolution.
As the General Court had interested themselves, in the affairs of Mr. Hollis, and had waited to know his mind concerning them, that they might order their own measures accordingly; Mr. Edwards, in a letter to the Secretary of the Province, dated March 8th, inclosed an extract from the letter of Mr. Hollis, and informed him of the actual state of the school, of the determination of the Council of the Mohawks, and the consequent resolution of the little colony, to return to their own country, and of the notice he had given the agent, that he should withhold any subsequent expense of Mr. Hollis' money upon them. He likewise informed him, that some of the Mohawks had, since the conference, brought their children to him, and earnestly requested that they might be instructed; offering to take the charge of their maintenance themselves; and that he had consented to receive them.* He also asks the advice of the Secretary, whether he might still occupy the schoolhouse, which had been built on the lands of the Indians, at the expense of the Province, for the benefit of Mr. Hollis' school.
The individuals, opposed to Mr. Edwards and Mr.Woodbridge, thus found every plan, which they had formed, of connecting themselves with the Stockbridge Mission, defeated, and their last hope extinguished. In 1750, the prospects of the mission, in consequence of the arrival of the two detachments of the Mohawks and Onohquaugas, which seemed to be mere harbingers of still larger colonies of their countrymen, were uncommonly bright and promising. And, could the benevolent intentions of Mr. Hollis, of the Society in London, and of the Provincial Legislature, in behalf of the Iroquois, have been carried forward to their full completion, with no obstructions thrown in their way, by greedy avarice, or unhallowed ambition; it is difficult to conceive of the amount of good, which might have been accomplished. A large and flourishing colony of the Iroquois would soon have been established, at Stockbridge, drawn thither for the education of their children, and brought directly within the reach of the means of Salvation. What would have been the ultimate effect of such a colony, on their countrymen at home, and on the more remote Indian Tribes, can only be conjectured. By the steadfast resolution of those persons, to oppose these plans of benevolence, unless the management of the funds, - by which they were to be accomplished, could be placed in their own hands, this whole system of beneficence towards the Iroquois, which would only have enlarged with the opportunity of exerting it, was frustrated finally and forever. We will not cherish the belief, that the disappointed individuals found any thing, in this melancholy result, to console them, under the shame and mortification of their own defeat : although they thus effectually prevented the benevolent efforts of their opponents, by driving the intended objects of them beyond their reach. A short time after the letter of Mr. Hollis was received, the individual, in whose hands the Mohawk school had been left by the former teacher, removed with his family, to bis former place of residence; leaving behind him only one of his associates at Stockbridge.
* These children of the Mohawks, and the children of the Onohquaugas constituted, from this time, the male Iroquois boarding-school, at Stockbridge. How long it was continued, I have not been able to ascertain ; but suppose it was removed to Onohquauga, soon after the establishment of the mission of Mr. Hawley, at that place.
Sickness of Mr. Edwards.—" God's Last End in Creation."
“ Nature of Virtue.”—Mr. Edwards' second son resides at Ononquauga.-Dangers of the War.-Letter to Mr. Erskine. -Letter to Col. Williams.-Lord Kaimes.-Letter to Mr. Erskine.—Letter to Mr. M°Culloch.—Letter of Dr. Bellamy.Treatise on Original Sin.--Letter to his Father Letter to Mr. Erskine.
In July 1754, Mr. Edwards had a most severe attack of the ague and sever, which lasted until January. It wholly disqualified him from writing, even to his correspondents, and greatly enfeebled his constitution. In the course of the spring following, he began the preparation of two other Treatises, which were entitled “A DISSERTATION, CONCERNING THE END FOR WHICH GOD CREATED THE WORLD;” and “ A DISSERTATION, CONCERNING THE NATURE OF TRUE VIRTUE." These two subjects are fundamental, in a System of Theology. On the first, many writers had hazarded occasional remarks; yet it has rarely occupied the space even of a chapter, or a section, in theological systems; and I know not whether any writer, before Mr. Edwards, had made it the subject of a formal and separate Treatise. From the purest principles of reason, as well as from the fountain of revealed truth, he demonstrates, that the chief and ultimate end of the Supreme Being, in the works of Creation and Providence, was the manifestation of his own glory, in the highest happiness of his creatures. The treatise was left, by the author, as at first written, without being prepared for the press; yet it exhibits the subject, in a manner so clear and convincing, that it has been the manual of theologians from the time of its publication to the present.
The Nature of Virtue has been a frequent subject of discussion, among ethical writers of almost every class,-heathen, infidel and christian. Aristotle, and other ancient moralists, supposed virtue to consist in avoiding extremes, and in following the mean in every thing. Others of the ancients, defined virtue to be living according to Nature. Balguy and Doddridge represent it as consisting in acting agreeably to the Moral Fitness of things. Wollaston places it in regard to Truth. Hutcheson defines it to be “a quality apprchended in some actions, which produces approbation and love towards the actor, from those who receive no benefit from the action."